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Larry Ellison voices pessimistic outlook of Apple without Steve Jobs

updated 11:18 pm EDT, Mon August 12, 2013

Oracle exec expects history to repeat itself

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has voiced a seemingly pessimistic outlook for Apple's prospects without the ongoing leadership of Steve Jobs, according to an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning. When asked to comment on Apple's future under new leadership, Ellison says "well we already know" and references the company's troubled history between Jobs' resignation in the '80s and his return in the late '90s.

"We saw, we conducted an experiment," Ellison added. "I mean, it's been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs, we saw Apple without Steve Jobs, we saw Apple with Steve Jobs, and now we're gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs."

In a 2012 discussion at the All Things D conference, Ellison reminisced of his friendship with Jobs after the two executives became neighbors in Woodside, California. The Oracle founder once told Jobs that "brick and mortar" stores were dead, to which the late CEO responded "we aren't using bricks and mortar; we're using glass and steel."

"He wasn't trying to be famous. He wasn't trying to be powerful," Ellison said at the conference. "He was obsessed with the creative process and building something that was beautiful."

Although Ellison does not typically garner as much attention as Steve Jobs, his "self made" success story shares several common elements. Both executives were raised by adoptive parents and later dropped out of college before beginning career paths that eventually led them to found two of the biggest companies in the tech industry, and both companies were pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in the early '90s.

"He was brilliant," Ellison said in the recent interview. "He was our Edison; he was our Picasso; he was an incredible inventor."

CBS This Morning is scheduled to show the full interview with Ellison on Tuesday.

by MacNN Staff



  1. GW5555

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-06-12

    It seems to be a trend lately that the media always wants to put a negative spin on things related to Apple. When I read Mr. Ellison's comments, I assumed he was referring to Steve Job's medical leave. A good reporter would have gotten more details to clear up any possible confusion.

  1. jfgilbert

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-19-10

    He should stick to promising software features that don't work and racing boats - things that he knows well - and not comment on Apple just because Steve Jobs was his friend but Tim Cook is not.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    I have only when thing to say, "Larry, don't be a dick."

  1. apostle

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-16-08

    I agree as regards the media. If Apple invented a device that cured cancer the media would blame Apple for putting millions of health care providers out of work. And of course a lot of these stories are just click bait. Personally I read this story because I was curious as to what Larry Ellison had to say. I actively avoid stories whose headlines read "Apple's Future Bleak As Stock Plummets One-One Millionth Of A Point In After Hour Trading"...

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    Steve was pushed out the first time by an incompetent manager who almost ruined the company.
    Steve was able to hand-pick and groom his successor and his team the second time around.
    Big difference.

  1. jomac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-13-13

    msuper69 exactly nails the difference between Apple then and what will happen today. Someone like Larry Ellison should recognize that the criteria have changed, and that things will play out differently this time. As Apple and its excellent products will be the biggest part of Steve Jobs legacy, he wanted the people he trusted to be a good fit with his design ethos. Personally, I believe he has chosen a good team, and to go all negative on their prospects for the future is to forget the devotion to detail that IS the Steve Jobs genius.

  1. chucker

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-29-07

    To be honest, I kind of agree with him - there hasn't been the same buzz since Steve died, and you can see it on these boards. Before he died, a story like that would have had >100 comments about it.

  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    My opinion: I don't think Ellison's opinion means anything, anything at all. I am not even sure why anyone thinks it means anything in the first place. Oracle has its place in the world, but Apple is so much more dominant and profitable, I think these comments are just swipes at a semi-competitor in the tech marketplace. I give them as much meaning as Michael Dell's comments in 1997 that Steve Job should close Apple down and give the money back to its shareholders. In February Dell was forced to go private, taking a 2 billion dollar loan from it's pal, Microsoft, to save itself from annihilation. May Ellison have such good fortune.

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I'm with chucker...until the new regime comes up with the next iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad, I don't think they should be viewed as successful. Right, they're just housekeeping...and even that's not been all that smooth.

  1. kerryb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-05-01

    Apple is a different company post Steve Jobs for sure, how can it not be. When Jobs returned to Apple he made it into the company he wanted not the company the bean counters made it into. I believe Steve left his DNA all over Apple post 2000 and it is nothing like Apple prior to that time. Steve was brilliant but not perfect and like most brilliant people he had close advisors he bounced ideas off of. Apple is filled with brilliant people and so far Cook as done a good job at helm of the ship.

  1. lockhartt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-11-00

    @iphonerulez - 'I have only when thing to say, "Larry, don't be a dick."

    Did you forget who Larry is? Being a dick is what Larry Ellison does best. Other than sharing an appreciation for Eastern philosophy and culture, not sure why Steve ever hung out with Larry... although I guess their egos were pretty similarly-sized :) At least Steve had a very likable side, I've never seen that side of Larry.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    the design of the new pro tower has given me confidence that design will come. undoubtedly there have been many changes, and a period of mourning and adjustment for the executive

    apple also faces supposed 'partners' that (at least in some court jurisdictions) may be deemed to have used their confidential relationship and profits from the work to copy Apple R+D & become direct competitor(s) - and for some reason the public still does not seem to get it, and buys the competing products...

    Is this a legal realm that rewards innovation?

  1. ionlyuseosx

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-15-02

    Steve left behind a legacy and a lot of creative folks at Apple. Tim Cook worked closely with Steve for many years and he knows what it took for Apple's success. He is a smart man yet he is not a visionary like Steve Jobs. I believe Apple has been looking for a new CEO all this time and Cook can run the ship well until then. But in the interim I believe they do have many new cool things in the pipeline. The best of Apple is yet to come. Great ideas will not lack funding at Apple.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09


    You forget: Spindler, the guy who ousted Jobs the first time, WAS someone Jobs picked and groomed. Jobs had a great track record of trusting people who didn't deserve it: he trusted Microsoft to see the internals of the OS to make Microsoft Word without using the knowledge to make a competitor to the Mac (which resulted in Windows), he trusted Spindler (who among other things is more-or-less single-handedly responsible for Apple's reputation for overpriced hardware -- he raised the price of the original Mac by $500 for no reason other than "because we can"), he trusted Schmidt over at Google (who turned Android from a feature-phone-and-camera OS into an iOS knockoff after seeing the demo of the iPhone given to the Apple board)... I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, but Jobs always had a failure to see who was going to stab him in the back.

    No idea whether this applies to Cook. It would be nice to think that Cook was one of Jobs' good choices like promoting Ive. But we don't know yet.

    It's interesting that people are already agitating against Cook so strongly because, apparently, Apple hasn't come out with an entirely new product category every two months since Jobs died, whereas Steve Ballmer, who is running Microsoft into the ground as quickly as realistically possible, still gets a pass from Microsoft's board and the media.


    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-18-09

    Every leader brings his or her stamp to the organization. Give Tim Cook time before declaring that he is unsuccessful. There is a lot of difference between what is going on now and when Steve left Apple the first time around.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    Sound reasoning from the undead.

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-14-11

    ""He was our Edison; he was our Picasso; he was an incredible inventor."

    Puleeeeze...Woz has said the Jobs didn't do any coding or engineering on the first Macintosh. Let's give credit where it is due, to the engineers at Apple that actually design the devices we all like and make them work - the latter being the really hard part as anyone in technology knows.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    "Pessimistic" "Outlook?"

    Ahhhhh Larry Ellison. Someone that I actually hate more than Steve Jobs.

  1. Sphincty

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-29-06

    Yeah Larry...I think you should be more worried about who's working on your face.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09


    Well, so what? Nobody has ever claimed Wozniak did anything particularly brilliant for the engineering of the Mac. Without Jobs, the Macintosh would quite literally have been an electric typewriter -- that's what Jef Raskin, the guy who was originally in charge of the project before Jobs, really wanted. It was Jobs who came up with all the ideas of how it should work and enlisted the engineers to make it happen. Although I'm usually skeptical about the idea of management actually being critical to making projects work, it's clear if you read the first-hand accounts that Jobs was behind about 75% of the good ideas which went into the original Mac (and about 50% of the bad ones, too, it has to be admitted -- the fact that the thing was built to be totally unupgradeable was one of his notions). Without Jobs, we'd be sitting around using DOS to do text chat on Gopher (the whole notion of a "web browser" was built on Nextstep, which was what Jobs did after leaving Apple).

  1. GW5555

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-06-12

    Whether you loved him or hated him, Steve Jobs was unquestionably the driving force at Apple. However, do NOT dismiss Steve Wozniak's accomplishments. He performed engineering feats in one night that no one was EVER able to match (created a floppy controller with only 4 chips) Years later, the best 3rd party controller had 6 chips. Without Steve Jobs, however, the Apple II and later technologies would probably have never been seen outside a small group of tech heads.

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-14-11

    The Vicar:

    "Nextstep, which was what Jobs did after leaving Apple." - When you say "what Jobs did" do you mean that he actually created the technology and made it work (which as I said before is the really hard part) or that he supervised and promoted it?

    Jobs of course was important factor in creating the Apple we know, but I don't like when the head man gets all the credit and the grunts that actually build things are taken for granted.

    I had to laugh when you said the original Mac was built to be un-upgradeable. That's one frustration a lot of people have with the current lineup today.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by The VicarView Post

    Without Jobs, we'd be sitting around using DOS to do text chat on Gopher (the whole notion of a "web browser" was built on Nextstep, which was what Jobs did after leaving Apple).

    We don't know that. Jobs surely wasn't the only design minded person working at Apple. jobs deserves a lot of credit, but I think a lot of people have a hard time separating what sounds like folklore and mythology from what sounds plausible.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    How do we know anything about any of this stuff, guys?

    We tend to take narratives that Apple insiders or various people we deem as knowledgeable say at face value, but what if some of this is simply an attempt to preserve Apple's image for vested self interests? Even Woz surely has a lot of stock in Apple, right? In the case of Ellison there is also legacy to protect.

    I'm not saying that Steve Jobs' legacy is all fabricated, but we don't know what is fudged a little and what is reality. We tend to want to lionize figures in society, particularly after they have passed away, so I tend to think that both what Ellison is saying and what people in this thread are saying about Jobs is not something to feel so certain about.

    You'll notice that historical records of other things in our society tend to not get too deep into these personal narratives and making assumptions about what would have happened had x or y happened.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    It seems apparent that Jobs was very good at selling things, was very charismatic, and had a number of opinions about design and technology - some which were spot and some which were not.

    But Jobs wasn't the only designer in the company surely. Designers often refine their ideas by brainstorming things and bouncing ideas off of other designers. I'm not saying Jobs shouldn't be given the credit since he was the head guy, but we don't really know which designs were 100% his, which were heavily influenced by people working with him, which decisions he was steadfast about, etc.

    I just can't accept this whole Edison idea that Jobs singlehandedly pulled all of these ideas out of his ass. Edison was just Edison, Tesla was just Tesla, Jobs worked in a team with great financial resources. He deserves credit, but let's not make him into some deity that Apple simply cannot survive without.

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 09-06-01

    Thanks Larry

    Thanks Larry for providing us Apple fans with a priceless quote that is sure to be repeated endlessly in years to come. The Michael Dell quote was finally getting a bit stale anyway.

    Your timing was also exquisite, coming shortly before Carl Icahn sent AAPL into the stratosphere with his tweet.

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