SAN FRANCISCO (CBS News) — Larry Ellison, America’s third richest man and the CEO of Bay Area tech giant Oracle, took aim at Google in a wide-ranging interview with CBS News, calling out Google CEO Larry Page “specifically” for overseeing Google’s decision to “take our [Oracle’s] stuff.”
Oracle produces a widely-used database that operates web systems from online banking platforms to airline reservation systems. The company is currently locked in a legal battle with Google, and Ellison maintains that the online search giant used Oracle programming language without permission.
“We don’t compete with Google. We don’t do anything Google does. We just think they took our stuff and that was wrong. That’s a completely separate issue … I think what they did was — was– absolutely evil,” Ellison said.
“Larry … makes the decisions over there. He runs that company. … And they decided, let me be very clear … When you write a program for the android phone, you write it. You use the Oracle tool, Oracle Java tools, for everything. And at the very end, you press a button and said, ‘Convert this to android format,'” Ellison said, explaining his issue with Google’s android phone development process.
Ellison clarified that Page — who is known for his personal slogan, “Don’t Be Evil” — “slipped up this one time” and said it was it was his actions, not necessarily Page himself, that were evil.
“This really bothers me,” Ellison continued, “I don’t know how he thinks you can just copy someone else’s stuff. It really bothers me.”
Ellison also shared his grim outlook for Apple’s future. He called the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs — his best friend of 25 years — an “incredible inventor” and “our Edison … our Picasso” and said Apple is likely to decline without Jobs at the helm.
“I’m not shorting Apple. I like Tim Cook. I think there are a lot of talented people there. … But Steve is irreplaceable,” Ellison said.
But when pressed on whether Apple is decidedly “going down,” Ellison admitted, “Okay, okay, I’ll say it publicly. He’s irreplaceable. … They will not be nearly so successful because he’s gone.”
Sharing personal reflections about his best friend, Ellison described the walks the pair would take in Jobs’ final weeks and days.
“We’d always go for walks. And the walks just kept getting shorter. Until near the end we’d … kind of walk around the block or maybe — maybe four blocks, something like that. And you just watched him getting weaker. And this is the strongest guy I knew. This was absolutely the strongest, most willful person I have ever met.”
He said that in the end, “the cancer wore him out,” and Jobs made the decision to take himself off his medication.
“He was just tired of fighting, tired of the pain,” Ellison said, “And he decided, shocked Lorraine, shocked everybody that the medication was gonna stop. He just pulled off the meds, I think on a Saturday or a Sunday. And by the following Wednesday, he was gone.”
Turning to matters of online security and government surveillance programs Ellison endorses the NSA’s surveillance programs as “great” and “essential.”
“By the way, President Obama thinks it’s essential [too],” he said, “It’s essential if … we want to minimize the kind of strikes that we just had in Boston. It’s absolutely essential.”
He explained that for him, the agency — which uses Oracle technology in their databases — would be crossing a line should they choose to use surveillance in the name of political targeting.
“If the government used it to do political targeting, [that would be a red line crossed]. If the Democrats used it to go after Republicans. If the Republicans used it to go after Democrats. In other words, if it became — if we stop looking for terrorists and we started looking for people with — on the other side of the aisle,” he explained.
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