The 10 Most Outrageously Entertaining Things Larry Ellison Just Said

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison was absolutely hilarious onstage at AllThingsD’s D10 conference yesterday.

He talked about Steve Jobs, cloud computing, HP, Leo Apotheker and himself.

Ellison has been the CEO of Oracle since 1977, so that makes him the longest-running tech CEO in Silicon Valley history.

That gives him the right to have opinions on just about everything.

Not that he’d ask anyone for permission.

'They don't call it the Internet anymore, they call it cloud computing,' Ellison laughed.

At one time, he got a reputation for hating cloud computing, but it wasn't the concept it was the name. 'What I objected to was, 'Oh my god, they just invented cloud computing.''

He's been preaching about it for nearly 20 years, using the term 'network computer.'

But he's given in: 'I'm no longer resisting the name. Call it what you want.'

In fact, on June 6, Oracle will be launching a whole bunch of software-as-a-service apps and calling it Oracle Public Cloud.

Running a company is 'all about creative destruction, right?' he says.

It reminds him of 'Woody's Allen's great line about relationships. A relationship is like a shark, it either has to move forward or it dies. And that's true about your company.'

Not all tech companies get it.

'I think we see a lot of companies in Silicon Valley under stress. But for every company under stress there's a Facebook or a Splunk or somebody else.'

Although Ellison says he likes HP as a company, he is still flabbergasted that they hired Leo Apotheker.

Oracle sued SAP in 2007 alleging that it was illegally downloading Oracle software. 'We subpoenaed him for the SAP trial and he was on the lam. The HP board sent him to Bolivia to talk to customers. Then they sent him to Mongolia to talk to customers, just out of reach of the federal subpoenas,' he describes.

'The board figured out, we should have left Leo in Mongolia. Because when he came to California it really got bad. 'Maybe we'll get out of the PC business,'' he said, pretending to be Apotheker. ''But then again, maybe not.''

Ellison called Apotheker some choice names like 'thief' and a 'criminal.'

'SAP pleaded guilty to criminal theft of our software. Let me be clear. I'm not accusing SAP of anything. What did SAP do? Did you engage in criminal behaviour and steal lots of Oracle software? Yes. That's SAP. Who was CEO when you were doing all this criminal stuff? Leo.'

Ellison also riffed: 'You are going to fire Mark Hurd and hire Leo? What I said at the time was that this was the best idea since the Apple board fired Steve Jobs. Really brilliant. Nine months later when HP said, 'Whoops! I think that might have been a mistake.' I would have tweeted 'told you.''

'You want me to give HP advice? Bless their hearts. I think Meg was a big improvement. I like her and I hope she does well for the benefit of HP employees, customers and everyone else,' he said referring to CEO Meg Whitman.

'I wish HP nothing but the best. I think HP is an icon. Those of us who had their careers in the Valley think of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett as role models. We would love to be half as good as they were.'

What keeps Ellison going? 'Red Bull,' he quipped.

But then he offered his true 'corny' thoughts that life is 'a journey' and that's he's fascinated by people and technology-- and winning, or at least trying to.

'I enjoy the competition and the process of learning as we compete. The whole thing is just fascinating. I don't know what I'll do when I retire. When I go sailing, I look around ... anyone want to race? I just love competing as opposed to just going out and watching the sunset.'

Ellison acknowledges his reputation is somewhere between bad boy and insane.

'I really should never talk about myself,' he says. 'Frequently I'll be interviewing with somebody or talking and in about 15 minutes they'll interrupt me mid-stream and say, 'Oh my God, you're nothing like I'd thought you'd be.''

And with a self-deprecating chuckle he adds, 'Well, it's a very low bar. I didn't start to bite the head off a small animal during the meeting,' then he added in his best Yiddish accent that people will turn to each other and say, 'Seems nice to me.'

The audience roared.

When asked what philanthropy Ellison was doing in the area of medicine, he laughed: 'I have a medical foundation called, very creatively, the Ellison Medical Foundation. We are focused on diseases related to ageing--I mean, for obvious reasons,' he said referring to himself. Ellison is 64.

Ellison said he spends about $1 billion on this foundation.

Plus, he also found himself funding a medical startup even though 'I swore I would never get involved in another startup ever gain in my entire life.'

The startup uses computers to discover drugs in the same way that aeronautics companies use computers to test aeroplanes. 'We're basically building chemical simulators so we can design and test drugs.'

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