- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER (US); 1 edition (15 February 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743225058
- ISBN-13: 978-0743225052
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.3 x 23.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 889 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 281,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle Paperback – 15 Feb 2005
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Software titan Larry Ellison has been busy scribbling footnotes to the most detailed account yet of his outsized life....He also responds and sometimes challenges the account of author Matthew Symonds -- a twist in presentation that adds a real-time feel to the 500-page biography.
"Harvard Business Review"
A sympathetic and revealing portrait of an idiosyncratic executive and company....Entertaining.
"The New York Times"
The access ÝSymonds¨ got is apparent....This access gives the reader a rare window on Ellison's mind.
An unusually candid study of how a tiny start-up...grew -- sometimes painfully -- into a Silicon Valley institution.
Symonds excels at letting readers into the 59-year-old Ellison's often turbulent personal life....Ýand¨ provides a wonderful image of an Ellison who is far from being all-business.
Lisa Baertlein Reuters Software titan Larry Ellison has been busy scribbling footnotes to the most detailed account yet of his outsized life....He also responds and sometimes challenges the account of author Matthew Symonds -- a twist in presentation that adds a real-time feel to the 500-page biography.
"BusinessWeek" Symonds excels at letting readers into the 59-year-old Ellison's often turbulent personal life....[and] provides a wonderful image of an Ellison who is far from being all-business.
"Harvard Business Review" A sympathetic and revealing portrait of an idiosyncratic executive and company....Entertaining.
"The New York Times" The access [Symonds] got is apparent....This access gives the reader a rare window on Ellison's mind.
"Financial Times" An unusually candid study of how a tiny start-up...grew -- sometimes painfully -- into a Silicon Valley institution.
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In this unique, remarkable, and truly excellent book, Matthew Symonds captures, as well as a journalist could, what an amazing man Mr. Ellison is, and what an amazing company he founded and led to unbelievable success. Symonds also gives a truly special look inside the mind and character of the enigmatic founder of this software colossus.
Currently, I am working on a book on the Relational Model for Database. And I picked up this book by Symonds as part of my research. Having read "Softwar", I am well prepared to describe, with awe, the remarkable role that Mr. Larry Ellison played in making Dr. E.F. Codd's dream a reality. Indeed, as Codd provided the theoretical foundation for the Relational Model for Database, and fought valiantly for its acceptance, even unto his death, Ellison probably merits more credit than any particular human being for making the Relational Model a commercial reality, and success.
A common theme occurs throughout this wonderful book. The theme is that programmers, of which Larry Ellison is certainly one, are constantly playing the game of "I'm Smarter than You" whenever locked in technical debate. One of the reasons that Ellison is so disliked by many uninformed observers in the industry is that he nearly always won that game. And that sort of unparalleled excellence always seems to become the object of jealousy.
I strongly recommend this excellent book to any who would understand both Mr. Ellison and the history of his amazing company. God bless.
- There's some great reporting embedded in what is really a ~500 page PR piece for Ellison
- The Ray Lane story was worth the read
- Ellison at the emergence of the Internet and struggling (like others) to see the future is a great historical read
- Giving the subject of your book permission to have a running commentary on the bottom of each page of your text, makes a mockery of the word journalist. (Doubly so because Ellison's commentary was unnecessary and extraneous. It added nothing to the story. It only proved how badly he compromised the author.)
- The book was in desperate need of an editor. It has periods of true reporting sandwiched in-between verbatim transcripts of Ellison position papers. Easily could have been 1/2 the size and twice as good.
- Tons of tactical details about: Ellison firing execs, defending Ron Wahl is spite of overwhelming evidence of incompetence, management by parachuting in, management only in crisis,etc. but none of this gets put into a coherent description of 1) who is Larry Ellison, 2) why given the permanent dysfunction of the company did it and he succeed. If there ever was a great example of "can't see the forest for the trees" reporting, this book is it.
- The whitewash of the Oracle contracting scandal with the State of California is a great example of when reporters become PR flacks of their subject. The author spent 3 years with Ellison and couldn't conclude "of course Oracle was pushing the edge?" A reporter would have asked if the "sales at any price" culture that almost killed the company in the 1990's had returned. A comprised flak rationalized it.
- Three years with Ellison and Oracle and no summing up of how this talented and flawed human being built the company
The most interesting part of the book, to me, was the footnotes penned by Larry himself, a quid pro quo for the two years of access to Ellison's life that Symonds received. Ellison is humorous, humble and scathingly disparaging of his enemies (heads up Gates and Siebel!) in hundreds of footnotes scattered throughout the book. Sure, it's a bit frustrating that Larry always has the last word on controversial issues. And his attempts to spin the story may turn your stomach at times. But 'Softwar' would be a much drier read without Ellison's contributions. Besides, you're always free to make up your own mind when Larry's version of reality comes across as a little too convenient. At the end of the day, 'Softwar' may be the best Ellison bio out there, and a great read for folks who are interested in a classic American success story.
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