Summary of Softwar

An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle

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Softwar book summary
Larry Ellison has driven himself and Oracle, his company, like one of his racing yachts: win the race, full speed ahead.


8 Overall

6 Applicability

10 Innovation

7 Style


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. 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.

In this summary, you will learn

  • The highlights of Larry Ellison’s life story; and
  • Background about Oracle, the Internet revolution and the stock market tech bubble.


The Parents
Larry Ellison was born in New York in 1944, the son of Florence Spellman, 19, and an Air Force pilot. They were not married and she did not discover that she was pregnant until the pilot had gone abroad. At nine months old, Larry caught pneumonia and almost died. His mother...
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About the Authors

Matthew Symonds is currently the political editor of The Economist, where he previously spent four years as the technology and communications editor. He was a founding editorial director of The Independent and was strategy director of BBC Worldwide Television.

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