Despite his image as a larger-than-life lavish billionaire, deep down Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison is really just a geek who loves to code.
He made that clear on stage Tuesday as he cracked jokes and giggled through his keynote speech at Oracle’s customer conference in San Francisco.
Ellison was demonstrating how Oracle’s database could easily move from a customer’s data center to Oracle’s cloud with a few clicks of a mouse. When it came time to show off the product, he didn’t hand off the demo to another Oracle exec but stayed on stage alone.
And he was downright giddy about it, saying stuff like …
“Because of my new job, I’m CTO now, I have to do my demos by myself.”
“I love my new job. Almost no one works for me now.”
(He was joking. He’s also executive chairman and Oracle’s largest shareholder. Oracle has 120,000 employees.)
As he walked people through the steps of using the new Cloud service he quipped:
“I’m going to sign in with John Smith. They took away my CEO title, took away my name — it’s been a rough few weeks.”
He said he wanted this demo to include him writing the code live for a new “Employee of the Month” program, to show how easy it is to write apps on Oracle’s cloud.
“I am CTO now, so I thought I’d show me writing but [Oracle CMO] Judy [Sim] said I could not. No one wants to see an 11-hour demo,” he giggled, adding, “A few years ago, I did have a demo that took a long time. I learned my lesson. Not going to actually write code during the demonstration.”
Later when showing off a retail application, he joked about his reputation for spending money.
“I’ve always liked retail. I’ve spent a lot of time in retail, both by myself and waiting for others. I’m kind of an expert.”
Of course, underneath the cheerfulness was a serious message.
Oracle is heavily pushing its cloud services to its customers this week, and for good reason. Enterprise customers no longer want to buy software via huge, expensive contracts and install it in their own data centres. They want to rent their software and all the tech that supports as a cloud service paid for by subscription. Oracle needs to persuade its customers to buy Oracle’s cloud services instead of moving to competitors like Salesforce.com, Workday, or Amazon.
The demo itself wasn’t really new, but it was still impressive. It scanned 4 billion rows of data in a second, Wikipedia’s actual, live database.
The Oracle database that Ellison was showing off competes with SAP’s database HANA and, ironically, the man who invented SAP HANA was on Oracle’s stage just moments before Ellison came out.
HANA was created by SAP star engineer Vishal Sikka who suddenly left SAP a year ago, thanks to internal politics at the company, sources told Business Insider at the time. Sikka landed as CEO of Indian outsourcer Infosys, an Oracle partner. So Oracle showcased Sikka as a keynote speaker. It was a subtle dig at SAP in a week full of subtle and not-so-subtle digs at competitors.
And it seems that Ellison, who shocked the tech world when he stepped down as CEO after 37 years, couldn’t be happier.