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Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle Paperback – 1 Aug 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (1 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743225058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743225052
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Alan Goldstein "The Dallas Morning News" Thank goodness for Larry Ellison. The chairman and chief executive of Oracle Corporation always keeps things interesting. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Matthew Symonds is currently political editor of The Economist, but before that was the magazine's technology and communications editor for nearly four years. He has also been a founding editorial director of The Independent and strategy director of BBC Worldwide Television. Symonds lives in London with his wife and three children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Mar 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a comprehensive, detailed collection of Larry Ellison anecdotes and quotes from people around him. Author Matthew Symonds occasionally interjects himself, but mostly lets his sources talk. Perhaps for fairness, he quotes many people who disagree with each other about important decisions at Oracle. Perhaps for journalistic objectivity, he generally refrains from judgment. This shows the reader every perspective, even if it doesn’t define context, chronology or direction. You get all of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, though you may want a clearer box top picture. Some of the technology coverage will intrigue only tech industry buffs, but overall you will learn a great deal of interesting information about Ellison and Oracle. We also found that Ellison’s character came most into focus when the book entered the world of yacht racing, his passion. The author also includes poignant, revealing anecdotes about Ellison’s childhood and candid reports about his personal life. Larry Ellison was allowed to review the manuscript and his comments appear as counterbalancing footnotes on many pages. That guy, he always does things a new way — as you will see.
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By london33 on 18 Sep 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Larry Ellison is undoubtedly and impressive individual. Matt Symonds clearly admires Ellison and with good reason. However, the book feels far from objective, particularly from a journalist. Reviews outside of Amazon describe it as "overly fawning" which matches my experience with the book. In addition, the book can in places be rather repetitive, particularly when discussing the Business Suite and Ellison's belief that Oracle enterprise software would be the singular and ultimate business application suite.

I finished book thinking that with Symonds' level of access to Ellison, the book could have been so much more.
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Format: Paperback
Larry Ellison came from nothing to be worth around 20 billion.
But rather than being a boring type businessman like Bill Gates, his personality is more like that of a bad guy from a James Bond movie. Anyone should enjoy this book.
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By k man on 28 July 2014
Format: Paperback
Great book very good read told me a lot about Larry Ellison
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
If you want to know a lot about Ellison AND Oracle 10 Dec 2003
By Nicholas Honko - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For years it seems like I've heard about Larry Ellison being the complete antithesis of Bill Gates while at the same time earning almost as much money. Knowing this about him and very little about Oracle, I decided it was time to look into it. "Softwar" appears to blend a few things that I find very desirable into one book.
First, its written by an independent observer-- Matthew Symonds of the Economist. While who can say whether this is truly an unbiased account, the vast majority of the book seems to portray Oracle in good light, but contains quips that allow the reader to see where all the Oracle detractors might have a point.
Second, Larry Ellison. When Symonds writes something or quotes someone (like Tom Siebel or other former employees) and Ellison disagrees, he gets to chime in and tell his side of the story through footnotes. After looking at so many books that just don't seem to have any proximity to Ellison, I chose this book mainly because you can get Ellison's rhetoric straight from the horses's mouth.
Third, if you read this book soon, the information will be more practical than books that seem to focus on interesting, but outdated info about a companies products or strategies. I personally knew nothing of Enterprise software or hardware other than hearing people complain about SAP. Now I at least have a semblence of knowledge about a field I'll probably end up at least working with.
If you want a book that puts Oracle in a good light while displaying its bad side at times and to hear mostly about Oracle with a brief biography of Ellison and how he commands the world's second largest software company, read it! PS I loved it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Highly Recommended 1 Mar 2004
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is a comprehensive, detailed collection of Larry Ellison anecdotes and quotes from people around him. Author Matthew Symonds occasionally interjects himself, but mostly lets his sources talk. Perhaps for fairness, he quotes many people who disagree with each other about important decisions at Oracle. Perhaps for journalistic objectivity, he generally refrains from judgment. This shows the reader every perspective, even if it doesn't define context, chronology or direction. You get all of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, though you may want a clearer box top picture. Some of the technology coverage will intrigue only tech industry buffs, but overall you will learn a great deal of interesting information about Ellison and Oracle. We also found that Ellison's character came most into focus when the book entered the world of yacht racing, his passion. The author also includes poignant, revealing anecdotes about Ellison's childhood and candid reports about his personal life. Larry Ellison was allowed to review the manuscript and his comments appear as counterbalancing footnotes on many pages. That guy, he always does things a new way - as you will see.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
very interesting but not objetive 20 Jan 2006
By scanman7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very interesting book overall, paints larry in a very (probably almost too) positive light. (the author was selected by larry to write the book.) the most interesting part is that larry adds his own notes to the bottom of various pages. the parts about sailing at the end were sort of boring, but it's nice to know that larry is planning on donating to medical foundations when he retires from oracle.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Fascinating Look at a Software Entrepreneur 30 Nov 2003
By Robert A. Navarro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a very insightful look at a kindler and gentler Larry Ellison (as compared to the days when he talked about "cutting off the oxygen supply" of his competitors). Symonds has done a masterful job in explaining what the Oracle products are about. He has also captured the personality of an individual who has changed the software world in many ways. From the perspective of a database administrator and architect who has been involved with Oracle software over the last two decades, I find the account very illuminating, honest, interesting and entertaining. This is a book that I just could not put down once I started reading it!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Great Book about a Very Interesting Company 5 Feb 2004
By Timothy S. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating book. I should note that I worked at Oracle for 12 years (1989-1991), though much too far down in the hierarchy to have had dealings with Larry Ellison himself. But when Symonds writes about the people that I did know and work for and with, he hasn't struck a single false note. He has captured very accurately the Oracle culture--a lot of very bright and very driven people, with of course a few inevitable mistakes thrown in.
In this book, Ellison comes over as one of the most insightful leaders in SV in the 80s and 90s. I wasn't always able to see this side of him, as I kept hearing negative reports from those who had been subjected to his (earlier, and admitted by him in this book to have been wrong) MBR (management by ridicule) approach.
I believe Symonds has done an accurate evaluation of Ellison, and Ellison, in his footnotes, comes over as a thoughtful person able to admit where he was wrong.
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