Larry Ellison's best zingers: a look back

Ellison stepped down as Oracle's CEO on Thursday. Here's a look back at some of his choice quotes

Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

Few CEOs have been as consistently entertaining as Larry Ellison. Love him or hate him, you can depend on him to liven up a speech with a put-down, a faux pas or a zinger for a competitor. Reporters joke that his public relations staff must take a lot of Xanax before he takes the stage. You never know what he's going to say next.

Ellison, who's 70, stepped down as Oracle's CEO on Thursday. He'll still be executive chairman and CTO, so it's unlikely we've heard the last of him yet. But to mark the end of an era, here are some of our favorite Ellison quotes, culled from various appearances.

A shareholder once asked Ellison why he needed two company presidents, Mark Hurd and Safra Catz.

"I just figured two's better than one. Seriously, it's a large company. We have a separation of responsibilities."

Another shareholder complained it was too hard getting information about Oracle's annual meeting.

"We love people to come to our annual meeting. We even have cookies."

Oracle's rivalry with has been a constant favorite.

"You can check in, but you can't check out. I like to think of it as the roach motel of clouds."

Part of the animosity with Salesforce is that Ellison thinks he doesn't get enough credit for "inventing" cloud computing. He was an early backer of NetSuite, one of the first cloud companies, but the mantle is often given to Salesforce's Marc Benioff.

"I think I started the first cloud company," he told an audience in San Francisco in January. "It's called NetSuite. It's a year older than"

The theme came up again at All Things D two years ago.

"I started NetSuite. NetSuite was my idea. I called up Evan Goldberg and said, 'We're going to do ERP [enterprise resource planning] on the Internet, software as a service.' Six months later, Marc Benioff, finding out what NetSuite was doing, kind of copied it."

Ellison has something to say about any competing technology that comes along.

"For those who think Hadoop is going to replace Oracle, they couldn't possibly understand what Hadoop is. It's batch processing. If you want to know someone's phone number [in Hadoop], come back the next day."

But his favorite target is German applications giant SAP.

"Ninety-nine percent of their business is ERP, and they haven't rebuilt it for the cloud. They haven't even started. It's very hard for me to think of SAP as a competitor."

Oracle is waging a legal battle with SAP, which admitted a former subsidiary stole its intellectual property. Ellison tried to subpoena SAP's former CEO, Leo Apotheker, who was later CEO of Hewlett-Packard, but Apotheker was conveniently out of the country. It was too much for Ellison to pass up.

"We subpoenaed him for the SAP trial and he was on the lam. The HP board sent him to Bolivia to talk to customers. Then they sent him to Mongolia to talk to customers, just out of reach of the federal subpoenas."

"The board figured out, we should have left Leo in Mongolia. Because when he came to California, it really got bad."

HP's decision to replace Hurd with Apotheker is another favorite.

"I'm speechless. ... HP had several good internal candidates ... but instead they pick a guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP."

He's immensely proud of the security of the Oracle database.

"Mr. Snowden never could have gotten into an Oracle database," he said in January.

On trying to imitate his old friend Steve Jobs:

"To model yourself after Steve Jobs is like, 'I'd like to paint like Picasso, what should I do? Should I use more red?'"

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuespersonnelOracle

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?