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If you like Lawrence Ellison's story, you might also like:
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Lawrence Ellison's
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Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison
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Larry Ellison Interview (page: 2 / 5)

Founder & CEO, Oracle Corporation

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  Larry Ellison

People have accused you of launching some brutal attacks on your competition. Is that an okay thing to do?

Larry Ellison: Were you shocked by the way we treated Iraq? We were incredibly aggressive against them. Was that really right? Of course we were aggressive against the Iraqis. They invaded Kuwait, they were threatening our oil supplies, they were threatening the world order. It was the job of our armed forces to defeat the enemy.

It is my job to go out into the marketplace and win. We run adds that compare our products to the competitors' products. We don't lie about this, we just say, "We can do this; they can't." We name the competition, it's fact-based advertising. We say very clearly that we're faster, and these tests prove it. We're more reliable, and these tests prove it. We're more economical, and so we'll name a competitor. Even if the facts are true, it's considered a little bit rude by some people.

I don't think it's immoral. I think that we're giving true facts to customers, giving valuable information to customers so they can make better decisions.

It is Bill Gates's job to make Microsoft the biggest company on earth, that's what he's paid for. It's my job for Oracle -- to move from the number two software in the company in the world to become the number one software company in the world. That's my job, that's what I'm paid for. If I'm not aggressive enough in the pursuit of that, if I'm not successful in the pursuit of that, I should be gotten rid of. If the general running Desert Storm is not aggressive enough and successful enough in the pursuit of that goal, he should be fired.

Can you trace your interest in this type of modern communication? When did you first get on a career track?

Larry Ellison: I decided to go into the computer business in college. I started working part-time programming. I found that in a very short period of time, I could make more money writing programs than a tenured professor at the University of Chicago was making, and I was a teenager. I said, "Well, this is kind of cool." It was also fun, it was like a big game, it was like working on puzzles. So I enjoyed it. It paid extremely well, I could work at home, I could work my own hours. I closely associated with computers, because they were absolutely a slave to reason, they knew nothing about fashion. They were completely logical. I enjoyed spending time with them. I liked what I was doing, it was very profitable, and it was very creative.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

It was also giving me immediate feedback.

I could start writing a program, and within several hours, I could have a result. Freud defines maturity as the ability to defer gratification. The great thing about programming is you don't have to be mature at all. You don't have to defer gratification for more than a few hours. You get wonderful, tight feedback. It's a lot of fun. That's characteristic of games and sports. The reason why games and sports are so popular is because you win or lose very quickly. You get immediate feedback. It's a very tight loop, you don't wait hours or days or years before you find out if you're winning or losing. You find out a second and a half after you release that basketball. You know whether it's going in or not.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

How did you land that first job?

Larry Ellison: It was in school, and they noticed when I was writing programs for school, I was getting done faster than everybody else. They offered me a job. I figured out very, very quickly that rather than being paid by the hour, I was much better off being paid by the program. I was working at the University, and then I started doing consulting for local businesses. That worked very well.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

You already had that work ethic. You're kind of a paradox. You have a very serious side, and a completely fun side.

Larry Ellison: I don't think it's paradoxical at all. As human beings we are endlessly curious about ourselves. We find all sorts of arenas to test ourselves in. Right now, I have the fastest racing sailboat in the world, maybe the fastest racing sailboat in history. Sayonara has raced 26 times; we have 24 firsts and two seconds. I'm discovering all sorts of things about myself as I race that boat. I discover all sorts of things about myself every day as Oracle competes with Microsoft for supremacy in the software world.

Larry Ellison Interview Photo

There's a wonderful saying that's dead wrong. "Why did you climb the mountain?" "I climbed the mountain because it was there." That is utter nonsense. It's ludicrous and absurd. You climbed the mountain because you were there, and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like. You wondered what the view was from the top. That's how we explore the thing that we're most interested in. We explore our own limits, and our relationship with others. We're much more interested in each other, and in ourselves, than we are in everything else.

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This page last revised on Oct 20, 2010 15:38 EST
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