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An obituary for Larry Ellison

September 3rd, 2010

A few years ago, I discovered almost by accident that Alfred Nobel (yes, the Nobel Prize guy) was actually the inventor of dynamite, and I was very curious about it, because how the man who invented something that killed and still killing thousands worldwide can give his name to the award that recognizes the people who fight hard in their fields of activity, including the World Peace.

The answer is quite intriguing: In 1888, when Ludvig Nobel (Alfred’s brother) died, the French newspapers mistakenly published Alfred Nobel’s death, and put in his obituary: ”The merchant of death is dead: Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”When he read in the newspapers his own obituary, Nobel realized that if his life was really ended that day, the humankind would remember him as a genocide. So he left in his will the desire to donate much of his fortune for the creation of the Nobel Prize, to be awarded, without distinction of nationality, as a recognition to people that really worked hard in some knowledge areas, including the fight for World Peace.

Doesn’t matter who you are, what you have or what kind of life you decided to have, sooner or later all of us will face death, and when the time came, everyone will surely think the same thing (even for just few seconds): How people will remember me ?

I went through such a traumatic experience too early my life, and assure you that this is the first thought that comes to mind when you look death in the eye.

I do not remember the exact font, but when I was researching Steve Jobs biography for a paper in my post graduation days, I found a text written by a journalist that was also a friend of Mr. Jobs and had a title like “The afternoon when Steve Jobs died “.The text explained that when Jobs pancreatic cancer was detected and with the first test results in hand, Jobs received from his doctor a death sentence on a morning: you only have a few months of life. The doctor also warned that additional tests would be done on that day, but he didn’t believed at the time that a cure could be achieved and recommended to Steve to prepare for departure from this world.

The testes were performed and on the end of the day they found a chance to save his life, what actually happened.The author says that during the hours he had to live with his death sentence, Steve Jobs ended up being forced to rethink his whole life, decisions taken, and things he had done (and not done). The result of this lonely afternoon looking into death’s eyes is the strategy that led Apple to get where they are today (and much more to come) and on the personal field, Steve Jobs assumed the paternity of a daughter he has refused to recognize for almost 20 years.

I don’t know if something as dramatical as those two histories happened on Bill Gates life, but the work he does today at Melinda Gates Foundation is absolutely admirable, and what surprises me most about this is the amount of money (and personal effort) that he puts in the research for a vaccine against malaria.

Malaria is a disease that kills thousands of people worldwide, mostly children, and it has a feature that shows the most disgusting side in our world: Malaria kills almost only in countries that live in extreme poverty, and because of that, the pharmaceutical industry don’t care about the research of a vaccine for the disease, because none of those countries can afford to buy vaccines at a price that gives the desired profit to the industry.

It is over a year since Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, and I believe that this period was more than sufficient for the company to take a decision regarding the open projects and technologies that Sun had and maintained.

Until now, all we see is a big gray cloud hovering over all projects, and an amazing inability to deal with communities, which for me is a serious indication that the free world as we know will never be the same.

I’m tired of hearing questions about the future of Java, OpenOffice and MySQL (to limit myself to only three projects), and even more tired of trying to talk to people with whom I have contact in Oracle and always hear the same history (invest more and do better), that simply doesn’t translate into any concrete action. I’m tired of living in a world of uncertainty and rumors in this area.

I still very angry about the recent episode involving Oracle and Google, not by the process itself (I’m no lawyer to evaluate it accurately), but the clear message that comes from it: We’ll use our patents aggressively (the opposite defensive use of patents that Sun had).

Sun Microsystems had thousands of patents that we all, users or developers of IT use and “violate” on daily basis. This “nuclear arsenal” is on Oracle’s hands and as we can see, they will use it.

All this happens exactly in the year that our friend Larry Ellison won the award for best-paid CEO in the world, peaking at number 6 in the ranking of richest people in the world with a personal fortune estimated at US$ 28 billion.

For all I know about Oracle, the big decisions are still made by Mr. Ellison and therefore any attempt to raise awareness of other people in the organization is innocuous.

For this reason, I take the liberty to leave here the obituary of Larry Ellison. Maybe after reading this “wake up” as the other guys cited in this article.

“Larry Ellison Dies: The Pontius Pilate of the Digital Age

Larry Ellison died. Oracle’s founder and one of the richest men in the world, which among numerous adventures with sports cars and luxury yachts bought and destroyed many companies worldwide. Known as the Pontius Pilate of the digital age for having “washed his hands” several times after the purchase of Sun Microsystems, shaking the structures of the open source world, destroying businesses and dreams all over the world. ”

He still have time to change that, but I do not know if Mr. Ellison is really interested. Maybe now he meditates about his Sunset on a trip on his Rising Sun. As Kansas used to sing, “…and all your money won’t another minute buy.”


6 Responses to “An obituary for Larry Ellison”

  1. Frederico Camara

    Stroke of genius! You were very inspired when you wrote this article. Reminded me of Roger Zelazny’s short stories.

  2. Paulo Maia

    Jomar, great article! It is a very nice analogy! The History is giving to Larry one more chance to change the way how the things are going on, to make the difference in favor of a better world. Because somehow, the communities, the companies and the wide world users will find out a way to do it, with or without him.
    So Mr Larry Ellison, do not waste this opportunity!

  3. Matthias Krells

    Hi wo ist der like Button? :-) Viele Grüße aus Berlin Matthias

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