Larry Ellison - The Source of Oracle's Wisdom

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN019
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1976-2001
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Oracle Corporation
Industry : Computers and information Technology Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Developing Niche Products

In November 1976, IBM published a paper entitled 'The System R Project.' IBM had worked on the System R Project for over a decade.

The paper mentioned about Structured Query Language (SQL),11 a language for obtaining knowledge about the data in relational database management system (RDBMS - Refer Exhibit II).

The paper explained a mathematically backed method for managing and finding information. After reading this paper, Ellison visualized that the computer database industry in future would slowly shift from the prevailing Hierarchical Database Technology12 to the Relational Database Technology...

Focus on Marketing

Since the inception of Oracle, Ellison had aggressively sought market share. Ellison's marketing strategy for selling 'Oracle' involved focusing on the software's three core strengths - portability, connectability and compatibility. He asked his salespersons to market Oracle's RDBMS as 'one-size-fits-all computer software,' and highlight its core strengths. Ellison described his 'Oracle' as 'promiscuous' since it was compatible with almost every operating system available...

Hiring the 'Right' People

Ellison firmly believed that employees were the most valuable assets of a software company. When recruiting employees, Ellison valued intelligence more than experience and maturity. He preferred "unruly geniuses" to more experienced, stable people.

During job interviews, Ellison discussed things other than software. According to a rumor, a person who had applied for a corporate finance job ended up talking about thirteenth-century Italy during the interview...

Excerpts Contd... >>

11]  SQL is a non-procedural language that enables the users to define, retrieve, and manipulate data stored in RDBMS. Users specify the database operations in terms of what is to be done rather than how it is to be done.

12]  The first generation of database technology introduced by IBM through the installation of Information Management Systems (IMS) in its main-frame computers in the mid-1960s. This technology was upgraded in the mid-1970s to network database technology. The term 'hierarchical database' refers to both hierarchical and network databases.


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