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Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle
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Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  191 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In a business where great risks, huge fortunes, and even bigger egos are common, Larry Ellison stands out as one of the most outspoken, driven, and daring leaders of the software industry. The company he cofounded and runs, Oracle, is the number one business software company. Perhaps even more than Microsoft's, Oracle's products are essential to today's networked world.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Arjun Balaji
Nov 19, 2014 Arjun Balaji rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

A fun book with a longer blog post (with all my notes) certainly coming soon. I picked up Softwar after Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle a couple of months ago.

The most important thing I picked up from Softwar was how often historical trends repeat themselves — fundamentally, the battles we're currently witnessing with SaaS stacks are just iterations of wars that existed between database stacks and enterprise systems in the mid-nineties. Oracle and Ellison were in the thick of thi
David Kopec
Aug 09, 2013 David Kopec rated it really liked it
Great Read, but Flawed

True to its subtitle Softwar does indeed deliver an 'intimate portrait' of billionaire business leader Larry Ellison. Unfortunately, although the book is enthralling and features an incredibly interesting format including written responses by Ellison to points raised by Symonds, it falls short in two important areas for biographies.

Firstly, Symonds is not objective - he clearly worked very closely with Ellison and certainly paints a more rosy picture of the complicated man
Mark Casey
Sep 22, 2015 Mark Casey rated it really liked it
This is a very good history of Oracle, but unfortunately it wraps up in 2004. I've watched Oracle from the sidelines since then, but it would be nice to read a history of the last decade by someone with access as good as that given to Matthew Symonds.

The book's biggest weakness from my point of view is that Symonds didn't talk much with software executives other than those who work at Oracle. It would have been interesting to get comments from executives at SAP, Peoplesoft, Siebel (there is a pa
Aug 23, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
If you're in the software business, this is a must-read. This book was last updated in 2004, which makes it very dated given the breakthroughs and changes over the past decade, but in a way that makes it even more interesting. A lot of Ellison's predictions - particularly about software-as-a-service and the Internet as the dominant backbone for business applications - were spot on. His belief and foresight about the relational database as a commercially viable enabler for organizations was proph ...more
James Gingerich
Sep 23, 2008 James Gingerich rated it it was amazing
If you have ever worked with Oracle or competed against them; this book is a must read. It captures the competitive spirit of Larry Ellison and the resultant culture of his firm. The book highlights the "Perfect Storm" of Oracle's infamous encounter with the State of California and details Ellison's gamble in shifting the company from a vendor of client-server software to the E-Business Suite. Whether or not Symonds intended to draw analogies between Ellison's yachting "hobby" and his business p ...more
Aug 18, 2010 Sam rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, library
"I was most interested in the information on Oracle and Larry's theories on computing. This was dominant in the book, though it wasn't complete. I think I'd like to find a less complementary biography to balance this because I thought the author seemed more than friendly with him. I'd also like to find an update to cover the last 5+ years since the book was printed. For example, I know that the PeopleSoft and Seibel purchases have happened since then, and I'm curious on his take on why these wer ...more
June Ding
May 16, 2015 June Ding rated it really liked it
A surprisingly very good book, not because it reads well ( not as great at story telling as many of the biographies I read), but because the insight it offers about Ellision and how he made those revolutionary decisions. It feels real and so relevant even though the book was written more than 10 years ago. What Ellison sai'd and believed at the time have been proved so right, which proves him a true visionary. What also amazes me is that throughout the book you read him readily admit his mistake ...more
Aug 28, 2007 Davis rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: software executives
Great biography on Larry Ellison. I've worked in the IT industry for over 10 years some of which focused on implementing software packages. I've seen Larry give keynote speeches and usually came across as an arrogant, self-righteous person. However, after reading this book and contemplating his ideas for the software industry, I now understand his actions and consider him to be one of the geniuses of the industry. At times the book comes across as a sales pitch, but at least it is a very convinc ...more
Marc Nissen
Aug 03, 2014 Marc Nissen rated it really liked it
Working for Oracle makes this book not mandatory to read, for sure. However, I was surprised how it helped me to understand business strategies of today. This book gives an autobiographical insight as well, but not more than I expected.
In my point of view the editor sometimes seemed to be too dependant and is lacking to be objective. But overall reading this book was a pleasure due to the unique live comments and footnotes of Larry himself.
Mark McGranaghan
Mar 08, 2015 Mark McGranaghan rated it really liked it
A surprisingly interesting look at the life and work of Ellison. Not the person I expected.

The book benefited from Symonds' close access to Ellison. One could not have written this book well from a distance.

Unfortunately the book is getting out of date. It's 10+ years old now, a long time in the industry.

Charles Yan
Aug 24, 2016 Charles Yan rated it really liked it
The first half of the book chronicles the beginnings of Oracle and major internal events that happened between then and 2003. The second half of the book is where it starts to get really interesting, as it more deeply explores Larry's personality, upbringing, and philosophy. And plus there were a few chapters about maxi yacht racing, where Larry's team sails into the eye of a hurricane..
Scott Cederberg
Mar 17, 2008 Scott Cederberg rated it it was ok
While this book fanned the flames of a brief obsession with Larry Ellison, it was overly fawning and did not provide much insight into the reasons for Oracle's business success. I suppose I got what I deserved for reading a book whose cover quotes reviews marveling at the "access" obtained by the author.
Matanya rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2013
Yan Schwartz
Yan Schwartz rated it really liked it
Jun 14, 2013
Brent rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2014
Justin Wyman
Justin Wyman rated it it was amazing
Jun 24, 2013
Brian rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2013
Jon Kamran
Jon Kamran rated it it was amazing
Dec 14, 2015
Greg Kettler
Greg Kettler rated it liked it
Oct 02, 2011
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Nov 25, 2011
Prats rated it liked it
Oct 27, 2009
Brian Mulloy
Brian Mulloy rated it liked it
Nov 22, 2014
Warren Hosseinion
Warren Hosseinion rated it liked it
Mar 30, 2013
Micael Holmström
Micael Holmström rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2013
Rob Lai
Rob Lai rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2016
Julian Bu
Apr 28, 2015 Julian Bu rated it really liked it
not the best written book, but probably the best book about larry ellison
Frank Long
Frank Long rated it it was amazing
Apr 29, 2014
Christine Spang
Christine Spang rated it liked it
Mar 06, 2013
Henriette rated it liked it
Jul 21, 2013
Peter Brown
Peter Brown rated it really liked it
May 25, 2014
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“Although he always talked about technology and Oracle with passion and intensity, he didn’t have the methodical relentlessness that made Bill Gates so formidable and feared. By his own admission, Ellison was not an obsessive grinder like Gates: “I am a sprinter. I rest, I sprint, I rest, I sprint again.” 0 likes
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