Larry is guilty of a lot of things - but his high profile was very calculated and served business interests.
What inspired me to ask is that John Cullinane had earlier volunteered the same question to me, and given the opposite answer, which also surprised me.
This was all in the late 1980s. And it was a staple of my conversations with Larry that he blast other people, commonly in quite humorous terms.
Larry's also the person who first told me of the bit about almost everybody thinking they were above average ...
I'm getting the impression that Larry is checking out now; the engagement he had ten years ago doesn't seem to be there anymore.
So I asked why we bought it. I was told that Larry took any opportunity to buy a potential competitor. My role would be to spend perhaps a year understanding their technology deeply. Then some number of months creating an integration plan for any technology we might want to keep. Then managing an Oracle team responsible for integrating the technology into Oracle products. And finally winding down the company.
Well, I've spent my entire career creating things. And now I was being asked to destroy things. So I thought "Is this what I want to do?". So I turned down an offer that was really coming from Larry and senior management - I figured it was time to go.
(This was over 10 years ago - Larry was still very involved.)