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I was an Oracle Product Manager for the core database. Larry would often offer to be available for anything that might raise the profile of Oracle. He also solicited suggestions for anything high-profile to get involved with - sports, causes, whatever. He said that his goal was to be someone who could call any CEO in the world, and no matter how much that CEO might hate Oracle, the CEO would still take his call. And if the CEO took his call then Larry would use his wealth in any way possible to make the sale.

Larry is guilty of a lot of things - but his high profile was very calculated and served business interests.

Back when Larry was offering to invest in companies I was thinking of starting, I asked him whether it was more important to be liked or respected. He surprised me by saying, with apparent sincerity, "liked".

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 ...

Hi Curt Curious to know why you think Larry stepped down as CEO recently. Also curious to know if you think Oracle will continue to thrive as a company and what it's biggest threat is today.

looks like someone's sitting on a techcrunch deadline...

Please feel free to mail me directly with questions like that. I've also written quite a bit about Oracle on several of my blogs, especially at http://www.dbms2.com/category/products-and-vendors/oracle/ and http://www.softwarememories.com/category/companies/oracle/

May I ask if what caused you to leave Oracle?

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.

I have an answer you won't expect: I had been a PM, and I was invited to a meeting. When I arrived, it was a small conference room with the lights out and two very serious guys in suits. I went in, sat down, and asked who else we were expecting, and what the meeting was about. They replied that no one else was expected. Then I was asked if I'd seen the paper that morning. I had, and the front page said that Oracle had just purchased a well-known company. They explained that my name had come up as someone to lead the new acquisition.

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.)

Thank you for your response. I would ask for the name of said company, but I'm sure you'd like to protect your anonymity.

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