I understand when an artist or someone creative gives their life to their work: it's an obsession that is personal. But giving your life to Oracle just for the money seems like a life wasted at that level. Even the day to day workers over there get to go home and see their families every night. At the C-level, you basically live in a private jet and never see your family... Very sad.
That's the nice take on it.
For others (or from a different perspective) for some making money itself is a bit of an addiction that swallows everything else.
I know a great guy -- very kind, very smart. But he doesn't really know how to have fun if he's not making money. That's his game and he's great at it. But I feel like he's missing out on a lot out of life. And he understands that on an intellectual level. But he can't imagine doing anything else.
I am personally very conflicted when it comes to people who almost insanely dedicate themselves to one pursuit. On one hand I feel sorry for them because I feel like they miss out on a lot. On the other hand, I'm very glad they exist. They do things no one else can or will do and our world is better off for it.
The best at what? I think that’s the real existential question. The best at making money? Okay. Maybe I’m not as interested in having “created significant shareholder value” on my gravestone.
In other words, don't project your own idea of a fulfilled life onto other people. "Creating shareholder value" might just be the most important thing in the world to someone like Hurd. It's not your place to say he's wrong or misguided, as long as he doesn't do anything illegal to make it happen.
The CEO job is the ultimate programming job. You are orchestrating people, money, processes, sales, product development, IT and more...
Probably why CEOs are paid multiples of a typical worker.
Very few can handle the job.
If it wasn't "making and guiding companies", but e.g. someone was obsessed with making spaghetti paintings, and working for it the same hours, would we consider them balanced?
No, but I never heard anyone say "again, why" about Van Gogh. The why is self-evident in retrospect.
I wouldn't put my art before everything else in life, and I'm not saying Mark Hurd did, but I get that some people do and once in a while that results in an incredible gift to humanity.
Most of the time it doesn't, but I don't see how you get a Van Gogh without a lot of people giving an unhealthy amount of themselves to potentially boring, mediocre shit.
To frame it with someone I know much better, what about Nikola Tesla? Profoundly accomplished, objectively made enormous contributions to engineering that made huge improvements to the quality of life for a large chunk of humanity. He was utterly obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge and nothing else. On his death bed he regretted his work ethic and wished only to have ever known the touch of a woman.
We may be benefiting from their obsessions, but they aren't.
Of course it’s possible to make smaller strides while living a more or less healthy life but I think for some (Tesla, Erdős) it just tips. But then again Erdős was maybe happy with his life...
Sticking with the scientists for a moment, maybe Feinman is exemplary. But are a bunch of Feinmanns enough?
Even a genius may not be immune to FOMO.
Which is why you're not Mark Hurd or Vincent Van Gogh.
Your family will (presumably) remember you fondly, and that's your reward. It will have to be enough. If it is, then good for you.
It's not what everybody else wants out of life, and that's OK.
Funny though I bet nobody who didn’t know him personally will remember Hurd in 50 years. Maybe a case study in B-school, but they don’t build monuments to folks who ran other people’s companies. Not that it isn’t crazy hard work, just that I don’t think a Hurd or a Cook is much concerned with their place in history.
And certainly, nobody who worked at Oracle will be remembered as one of the all-time best-loved business figures.
Balance has a cost, too. I consider myself pretty balanced. And I'm happy being balanced. Mostly. But I understand that I will never be truly great at anything. As long as I insist on balance, I will only ever be pretty good. Luckily enough, pretty good has been good enough. But still, I wonder what it would be like to pick one horse and ride it.
Some of them have kids with medical issues. Some of them have dedicated the same number of years directly supporting him.
If that person feels like those people would all be worse off without them, if he felt Oracle would tank much harder than it has if he stepped away, I could see that weighing on a good person.
How's that different from working 80 hours/week IF you enjoy it? Just don't force others to do the same.
I will find out in a few weeks. I don't have a good feeling about this. I have accepted that my time might be up. I'm probably looking at another round of more aggressive chemo. I am doing my best to just not think about this.
I have always enjoyed woodworking but never really spent the money on getting a proper woodshop together. But when I was on the tail end of the first round of chemo I got a lot of credit cards and bought tools. Because, fuck it.
So through all this I spend a lot of time down in the woodshop to keep myself busy. I feel like garbage but it keeps my mind occupied. Even if I had Hurd money I wouldn't want to be sitting on beach. Free time to think is my enemy. Free time results in serious bouts of depression. Basketball, and woodworking is how I am spending most of my time. Something, something, idle hands.
You might want to check out Maitake mushrooms (but talk to your doctor first):
and even psilocybin, for the mental aspects:
Kai-Fu Lee writes about this in his latest book and he came to the conclusion that he should have prioritised his family much more and that it was pretty much his biggest regret in life. Seems to be very, very common among people who come close to death.
Although there is plenty of suspicion that it can (even if indirectly through stress related lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol, poor food).
There are plenty of diseases where you die within a few months of diagnoses. For all we know he got his diagnosis and immediately took his leave.
While I agree with your overall sentiment that it's not worth it, you are making so many assumptions as you know nothing about his personal life. Not everyone has a good family life, and it's a dangerous assumption to blame work for it - the causality can often be the other way round (crappy family relations, spouse unwilling to change, etc so find fulfillment in things outside of home).
We just don't know. And it's none of our business.
I don't believe there's enough information to reach that conclusion. It is quite possible that his sickness was sudden or that it was discovered suddenly at which point he took a leave of absence. There are numerous people who go into the hospital for a routine check of - I feel tired/I have a constant headache, etc only to be told they have a life threatening disease. By the time the father of a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was already stage 4 or so and he stopped working then
Mark was 62; maybe you’re thinking of Larry, 75?
Reminds me of the recent HN story about the lady who ran a large furniture retail outlet in Nebraska. She was something like 85 years old when Berkshire Hathaway bought the company. It never occurred to Warren Buffett to demand a noncompete agreement from an 85-year-old, but he says he won't make that mistake again.
And if so, that's OK.
I see many in retirement that are just as consumed by their hobbies as they were with their careers.
Spending that time away from family however is difficult to justify.
Most CEOs being older people does not mean most older people are CEOs. "Few old people become peak leaders in their respected field" is absolutely true, almost by definition unless you consider a huge portion of people in their field "peak leaders".
Is being the CEO of Oracle not creative? Is there anything wrong with devoting your life to a company? I would say there is nothing wrong with devoting one's life to a startup, so I don't see why there is anything wrong with devoting one's life to being a CEO.
Maybe some people don't want to die in mediocrity.
If I were to know that I have 3 months left on this earth, I would want to spend all of it with my wife and the rest of my family. I don't think that's dying in mediocrity.
Some people bury themselves in their job, some people bury themselves in work, some people in video games, it's ultimately based on the same drive to achieve something based on a struggle.
My dad did : he died out of the blue of acute leukemia, in a matter of days, at 63 yrs.
edit: and, he was not a CEO, far from it.
Pancreatic cancer took my father's life at 73. Not much warning and not influenced by how much or little he worked.
The good ones either could do, or at least verbalize how they wished their bosses would do, some pretty effective delegation by... well... leading.
There are ways to communicate the overall picture and the goals of a project so that people generally know what is expected of them, and feel empowered to go and tackle individual problems that lie in the way. Even if they don't act, it's no surprise to them when their performance review is bad because they knew what everyone was doing and they chose not to participate.
Nobody is being micromanaged, nobody is working on 'pointless' stuff. Everybody can and most people do step up.
There's a weird bit of human psychology that can be used cynically (as by con men and serial killers), but it doesn't have to be: If you trust people, they are inclined to trust you. I think that may be part of the dynamic that goes on in these situations. Here's my dream, I'm sharing it with you, let's go do it.
I wonder if we should be focusing a lot harder on communication skills and leadership training. Because if you can wind up that toy and walk away from it, do you really need to be working 70 hours a week? Or do you have people for that?
It's not just a movie trope, it's a human cliche. Pour enough oxytocin onto a human brain and you'll believe anybody is your bestie. Survival creates a bond.
These guys create emergencies and then become emotionally invested in the heroes who show up and fix the problem. If they do that repeatedly, the bond is stronger. Infuriatingly, that often holds for people fixing the same problem over and over. They want to keep these 'friends' around and ignore everyone else.
They have no emotional bond for most of the people who would let them go home after 40 or 50 hours.
The sheer joy of creation and maintenance. Or, with the mental model of the organization as a developing child, an unruly yet talented child full of promise - raising it up to reach it's peak potential, like an athlete's father, like Tiger Wood's father, might do.
That sounds like a legitimate life work, and a hobby, and an interest, to me.
EDIT: The care-and-feeding of some of my long-running simulations, be they agent-based computational economics, or alife, give me a lot of joy, even after 20 years of watching them and nurturing them and tuning their parameters. (The results are can be quite surprising! I don't understand people who golf or fish, or that retire to do whatever retired people do, but starting companies or herding populations of computer programs is something I could imagine doing until I die.)
Here I am on a Friday night, casually hanging out on my laptop - between Reddit and Hacker News and watching work tech talks and looking at GitHub issues. A new bug came in. I know several companies depend on me to fix it. It's not urgent, but I'm taking a look at it. I guess it feels good to be useful to other people (looking at the bug), and to feel like part of something bigger than you (the tech talks).
HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20928570
I didn't notice anything about being a workaholic, so at the end of it I have to assume he worked as hard at his job as any other CEO? So are you just saying that CEOs work too hard, too many hours? I'm not disagreeing necessarily I would just like to know how many hours and how hard it is exactly because I couldn't find it in the article?
...And in an organization with thousands of people there's more knowledge than even a hundred people can fully absorb. So I don't think this particular criticism is fair.
His family yes. Hurd though is not around anymore.
> Why work that hard?
It's not hard if you enjoy it. I work just about every day. I enjoy what I do and being at the office. Not every single thing but very generally most things and most days. Not working feels strange to me. Would I work less if I had more money? The thought of that scares me. I enjoy working. Part of the reason is the positive feedback of making money but part of it has nothing to do with that. After all people play games on the computer. They are addicted to that and they in most cases don't get any money at all. Well for some of us work is play. And you make money from that. It's very enjoyable vs. being at a vacation home (I have one and have for a long time).
> The job is so demanding and so hard it seems like Mark worked himself to death, literally.
Well as others have pointed out that is probably not what has happened. Now could an illness been exacerbated by lack of rest and focusing only on work? Sure. Maybe not enough sleep or denying some basic thing that is needed. But not because you didn't take time off to relax and smell the roses. He died very quickly. Could he have ignored some symptoms? Sure but maybe not. Maybe it just happened.
> He probably could have retired happy and rich at like 40 years old...
You seem to be tying everything to making money and of course assuming that someone having enough money to not work is going to be happy. Not all of us are like that as my comment is suggesting and as others have said.
> I understand when an artist or someone creative gives their life to their work: it's an obsession that is personal.
Why? What makes what an artist does that is creative make it different than someone in business, entertainment or anything else? Business is an art and enjoyment. Maybe not to you but certainly to many people (me included).
> But giving your life to Oracle
Implies that some companies might be worth 'giving your life to' or some causes. Not the case. Nothing is worth (even your example of art) giving your life to. Of course you can think that some social cause is worth 'giving your life' but that means you are also doing the wrong thing to your family if you have one. They will maybe suffer when you are not there.
> Even the day to day workers over there get to go home and see their families every night. At the C-level, you basically live in a private jet and never see your family... Very sad.
Sad to you. Maybe they like it that way?
I'm not very familiar with how Oracle is run, but it surprised me to see "co-CEO". I always assumed this wasn't a great way to run a company, and yet here is a major exception.
Can someone enlighten me as to why Oracle chooses to have co-CEOs? Is it something specific to their business?
...the co-CEO structure is very unusual, although some high-profile technology companies, including Motorola and Wipro, in addition to RIM, have adopted it.
“Two CEOs with complementary skills and knowledge could presumably lead a firm better (compared with single CEO) and deliver better performance,” she added. “In addition, it might be helpful in retaining good CEO-material employees and avoid having them leave the firm and take their valuable knowledge with them elsewhere, especially if there was an exodus.”
However, Danielova adds, there are probably many more drawbacks to such a structure.
“I am going to be focusing on, No. 1, the products, the technology—as well as the culture,” says Benioff, “and Keith is very much focused on the operations and distribution functions of the company. We feel it’s going to naturally align with both of our strengths.”
Product, Marketing, Vision, Culture -- vs -- Sales, Support, Services (Business)
It basically reverts back to what start-ups would segment out as Business v. Technical co-founders.
At the risk of sounding dumb, isn't that what the COO is for?
Larry has been quoted as saying in this year's Oracle Openworld conference - “I believe in a dual-CEO structure. The normal case would be dual CEO here for obvious reasons. That it’s good to have capacity and good to have specialization. And then, God forbid, if something untoward should happen, you have capacity; you are not incapacitated.” 
1 - https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/18/former-oracle-co-ceo-mark-...
1. Why do most of the programmers at my job have a title of Senior Engineer or better?
2. Why does Goldman Sachs have thousands of Vice Presidents?
3. Why does Oracle have two CEOs?
The only thing that the employer has to worry about is a perception of title inflation, but there’s a tragedy of the commons problem. This can be combated by creating higher-end titles. I wonder when we’ll see a company with a CCEOO.
Safra Catz, the other co-CEO, will run Oracle in the meantime. Ellison intends to appoint a new co-CEO in the near future(2)
He wasn't well liked in my department (Superdome!). IT and Ops had been completely outsourced which wasn't particularly appreciated.
>Hurd, one of the company’s two CEOs, is struggling with an illness that has occasionally taken him in and out of the public eye for more than a year, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. Management’s rationale for staying silent until now centered at least in part on the depth of Oracle’s leadership bench, said the people, who requested anonymity discussing an issue the company considers private.Hurd, 62, shares the CEO title with Safra Catz, 57, a well-regarded 20-year company veteran, who previously served as finance chief and still oversees Oracle’s accounting, operations, legal and corporate development.
The modeling for Playboy seems like a very gratuitous detail to include and doesn't seem to serve any purpose for the story.
She posed for Playboy; Hurd was involved in her hiring for "events" and then immediately commences an irregular relationship with her, including her being paid for work at places where there is no HP event but Hurd happens to be.
It makes it look a lot more deliberate, than if, say, she had a career as an event presenter and then some time after hiring a sexual relationship commenced.
This seems to imply that hiring a woman who has posed for Playboy has a higher chance of being because of prurient purposes. This seems discriminatory.
It definitely has a higher chance of being for prurient purposes if she first came to his attention for her nude modeling! Let's be realistic here.
What were you expecting, exactly? And how do your expectations correspond to the reporting quality & character of said news outlet?
I aspire to conduct myself so that whenever I die I will be remembered as something more altruistic, or at least ethical than a corporate raider, or a politician who tried to sleep with his interns, etc.
> Cause it's easy to get the estimate of a person by the people they date/marry.
I think the second one is true. Not as true as some things. But if it is true then the first is true, since the second is more universal.
> Many people believe they can estimate a person by the people the person dates/marries.
It's possible Hurd believed this. Whether he thought he was moving the needle in his favor by any of his actions is probably unknowable.
I see why you read the comment the way you did, and I suggest there is a different reading.
He gutted R&D, slashed important internal departments, tried to outsource everything, etc.
And with all of this, he ended up spending a billion dollars on palm, which was basically a complete waste of money. But hey, they were trendy at the time so investors loved it! (The poor palm employees that basically got shit canned).
Now, HP is a shell of it's former self and collapsing under it's own weight. They don't have the people to innovate, they are actively downsizing (my current employer is hiring a lot of their talent) and all the while they are trying to bridge gaps using underpaid contractors (I got a job offer in linked-in for them at $40k... lol! That was less than I earned there as an intern!)
The only people that praise hurd are those that didn't see the absolute destruction he caused to moral. But hey, he turned profits for a few years, so he must be amazing, right?
Frankly, the board firing Hurd was just dumb American sexual hypocrisy (both Hurd and the board), burnt billions in value and nearly tanked the company because he was banging someone on the company dime. I'll never understand why he didn't just pay his mistress with his own $30M salary. Perceived deniability? It's bizarre.
And then Apotheker really trashed HP. Meg W, as much as I disagree with her politics, somehow got HP back to being competitive.
HPE has good server and HPC/GPU products, even if the website sucks balls, and competes hard with Dell, IBM etc.
But I think there is actually a good point behind a possibly tasteless joke. If you are overly litigious in life, or take up certain aggressive business practices, maybe the thought of death is humbling and can teach us all to relax and be kinder. I think we all know our share of living people who could use this advice.
“When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if we must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.”
Thursday - Amazon announces support for RDS on VmWare
Friday - Oracle announces its Co-CEO has died