Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison is actually a much nicer guy than he gets credit for, people close to him say

Larry Ellison smiling demo
Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison. Business Insider

Oracle’s executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison loves to race, loves to compete, and most importantly, loves to win.

He’s famous for his take-no-prisoners style of leadership, complete with a constant barrage of smack talk about his competitors.

Over the years, he’s smack-talked Microsoft, IBM, HP, Salesforce, and many others, and his latest target is Amazon, the leader in the cloud computing market that Oracle has recently entered.

But despite his industry-wide reputation for being hard-nosed, long-time Oracle board member Ray Bingham tells us he’s never seen Ellison yell or lose his cool — even during sensitive conversations. He is always calm and respectful to the people in the room, even when the conversation gets heated or even if they are discussing sensitive topics.

One of Larry Ellison’s direct reports, chief architect Edward Screven, told us that another little-known fact about Ellison: he’s a really good listener and doesn’t want to be surrounded by yes-men and yes-women.

If someone disagrees with him, Ellison will respectfully hear the other person out, as long as that person presents Ellison with the data, facts, and research to back up an opposing viewpoint.

We’ve heard this before: that making a case and being proved right is one of the best ways to earn Ellison’s respect. For instance, Thomas Kurian, president of Oracle product development who reports to Ellison and whose star has been on the rise at the company, won Ellison’s respect in exactly that way, in addition to being a hard worker, several people who know Kurian have told us.

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