Larry Ellison: We Already Know What Will Happen to Apple Without Steve Jobs

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said we already know what will happen to Apple without Steve Jobs, with the implication that Apple will crash and burn like it did the last time he left. The outspoken Mr. Ellison made the comments in an interview with Charlie Rose that will be broadcast by CBS Tuesday morning. CBS cleverly released a teaser [via AllThingsD] get folks riled up. In that teaser, Mr. Ellison said, “We already know [what will happen to Apple without Steve]. We conducted the experiment. I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs [raises hand]. We saw Apple without Steve Jobs [lowers hand]. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs [raises hand again]. Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs [lowers hand hand again].” What we don't know is what he said next, and I'm holding my commentary until we can see the full thing (but think: Apple Death Knell #64].


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Larry Ellison’s analysis is incomplete. The Apple that went into decline without SJ was a different company in a different time. That company, most importantly, did not value SJ or his talents, and most tellingly, had not had his vision and values written into its DNA. Like a premature infant brought too soon into this world, it floundered and deteriorated.

That is not the situation in this post-PC era. Not only is there more than just a single product (in the mid 80s what was there besides the Mac?), SJ remoulded the company and hand picked and mentored its current leadership. The company now competes and has disrupted on multiple fronts, not just with PCs.

When I hear Larry Ellison speak, and mind you, the man has many admirable leadership qualities, and Apple’s future is anything but certain (which company’s is?), I nonetheless hear a CEO of another company founded and led by that CEO expressing a view that without that founding visionary, the company ceases to exist. This is hard to defend as a disinterested and unbiased opinion, and it clearly isn’t prophecy.

Let Ellison and everyone else for that matter have their opinions, but let Apple and all the rest of us make our own futures.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

The sharks are circling and the Cook doesn’t have any good recipes. Larry simply wants to help pick the next guy.


Saying Cook doesn’t have any good recipes at this point is like going to a fine restaurant at 3pm and declaring the chef be fired because your 4 course meal won’t be ready for another couple hours. Idk, maybe bosco has been watching too much of shark week.


This always makes me chuckle: “The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison”


Bryan, there’s one more thing.

We have witnessed the genesis of the modern PC and now post-PC eras - the age of digital technologies if you will. Practically all of the major players were born in this era, not just Apple, but MS, Google, Amazon, Oracle, Blackberry, FB, Yahoo, etc. yes, there are exceptions (Nokia) but by and large, the fortunes of these titans has been tied to the efflorescence of this period.

A major feature of this period is also the founding, generally young CEO whose company has grown with him (or her). As a result, one thing we haven’t seen much of, and for which we therefore have little empirical data, is what defines and what is required for a successful transition beyond the tenure of the founding CEO, provided that that founding CEO has left the company in a strong position. This in turn will be linked to corporate culture and the company’s business model and that model’s adaptability.

In short, Apple is amongst the very first to a hard break with its founder (as in he’s not coming back). Just as the company has pioneered many of its current product and service lines, it now is finding its way through this transition period amidst a fiercely competitive field. It has to maintain its balance while finding it footing at full sprint on treacherous terrain. Other companies, and the opining CEOs, who have not gone through this transition are in no position to offer advice or hold themselves as a model; and all comparisons between those companies and one undergoing this phase, like Apple, are invalid in the truest technical sense. We will have to see how the likes of Amazon or FB or Google fare once their CEOs pass on, by which time Apple will have either successfully transitioned or not, but we will likely take a wiser and more seasoned assessment of what that transition should be like.


Ellison brought America’s Cup racing to San Francisco Bay, promoting a big spectacle and a windfall for the city, yet newspapers are citing the lack of buzz about the event and lackluster crowds. So it’s not like he’s right about everything.


He also predicted that Network Computers would replace the PC.

John Dingler, artist

Larry Ellison can make the most entertaining, engaging, and incendiary comments.

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