New: Book Report: The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison

I've "used" Oracle applications. When I say "used", I mean "tried and gave up". Oracle calendar was slow, buggy, and thought it was a good idea to store my password, unencrypted, in a publically visible file. Yes, I'm still angry about that. Oracle expense report software has saved my employers plenty of money. Not because it's efficient. Rather, because it's so awful that I tend to pay for things out of my own pocket rather than try to file expense reports.

The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison is a history of Oracle Corporation and CEO Larry Ellison. Oracle got ahead through selling vaporware and spreading FUD. I always assumed that their apps were crap but that their underlying database must be good--because they were a successful database company, right? But it turns out that they were in the right time and right place. And they won and kept a lot of business by lying to their customers.

This book was a powerful reminder that a company can do very well by cheating its customers and doing evil. I like being honest with customers and like finding "win-win" situations... but there are people who say "screw that" and go for the quick bucks. If I assume that a company that's been around for several years must have some kind of honesty or else their reputation would have caught up with them, Oracle proves me wrong. I guess I shouldn't have needed this book to remind me. There are plenty of long-lived evil companies out there.

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Posted 2009-04-05