Damn it! All of the colorful bad guys of proprietary tech are aging out, leaving in their place boring button down folk with all the charm expected from accountants.
You’ve no doubt already heard that Larry Ellison stepped down this afternoon as CEO of Oracle, though he’ll be sticking around for a while in his new position as executive chairman. In other words, he’s still the boss by way of being the boss’s boss – and by dint of the fact that he remains the company’s biggest shareholder with a 25% stake in the business.
Why is he quitting? Probably because he’s getting old and he can afford to retire; he turned 70 last month. Officially, according to him and the once and future king’s yes-men, it’s all part of carefully laid-out succession plans – meet-the-new-boss, the-king-is-dead and all that.
As much as I loathe Mr. Ellison, I really hate to see him go, especially that part of me that thinks I’m a writer — a FOSS writer. Who’s left for FOSS press brickbats?
You see, Larry Ellison is one of the last, maybe the last, really good and colorful bad guys left on the tech scene.
Who’s left to be the target for split infinitive armed verbal bombs from wanna be hotshot FOSS reporters? Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, Oracle’s co-presidents who’ve now been elevated to the status of co-CEOs? Meh. Not unless Hurd again decides he wants to dip his pen in the wrong inkwell and then use company money to clean up the mess — but I don’t think he’s going to do that. Not at Oracle. Ellison would break his legs if he did. Remember, even though Ellison’s gone, he’s not most sincerely gone.
Who else is there to lob preposition ending invectives at? Satya Nadella, Steve Ballmer’s Redmond replacement? That guy’s so boring that when he lays off 13,000 workers who badly need their paychecks, the press doesn’t even wake up to read the memo — not even the FOSS press.
All of the old I-built-this-company-with-my-own-two-hands and you-wouldn’t-be-broke-if-you-had-gumption-like-me types have left the building, either to meet their makers or to kill time while waiting to meet their makers. No longer do we FOSS wordsmiths get to forge verbal horseshoes to hurl at the likes of I-like-open-source-as-long-as-I-can-steal-it-and-give-nothing-back Steve Jobs.
Bill Gates is no longer out making promises he can’t keep; Scott McNealy is no longer insisting that he’ll open source everything under his control in the next few minutes or maybe tomorrow or perhaps never; Jonathan Schwartz is no longer letting us know that he’s nothing like his predecessor and that he absolutely will open source everything under his control in the next few minutes or maybe tomorrow or perhaps never.
We can no longer pick on Marx-Lennon-and-Linux Steve Ballmer, unless we want to become sports writers, and the Clippers can draw derisive comments on their own without the help of Microsoft’s old buffoon, thank you. As for Darl McBride and Blake Stowell, FOSS’s own Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who decided they couldn’t lose after 92 consecutive coin tosses land on heads and so killed Caldera and sued Tux for all the fish in his bucket and then some…. They’re gone too, for all intents and purposes, dead. That 93rd coin toss got ’em.
Now Ellison is gone as well and I can’t help but wonder if he hasn’t won some sort of tontine for being the last old school tech scoundrel left standing.
I have no idea what he’ll do now except it’ll be something self-serving and gaudy — like buying North Beach and bulldozing everything into the bay to make room for a new mansion based on the Taj Mahal. Or buying Coit Tower to rename it Ellison Lighthouse. All I do know is that Mark Zuckerberg needs to grow up fast, even if that means using a Marks-A-Lot to create the illusion of five o’clock shadow on his baby bald face. The tech villains are sorely in need of a charismatic leader, preferably someone who’s not too boring.
Excuse me if I haven’t taken this abdication too seriously.
Under Ellison, Oracle has already squandered all of their open source holdings. We don’t need MySQL anymore, we’ve got Maria. The Document Foundation with LibreOffice has made Open Office irrelevant — and it doesn’t even belong to Oracle anymore anyway. What’s left? Java? What a fine job they’ve done managing that mess. Oracle Linux? OMG, what’ll we do if they screw that up?
Oracle couldn’t do any worse with Ellison gone than they’ve done with him.