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Gonzo CEOs

Hunter Thompson, RIP

Longtime readers know that Hunter “HST” Thompson is one of my favorite authors. What I like(d) about him is his attitude: honest, succinct, unguarded, and, most important, involved. As you can guess, I was, and still am, a big Hemingway fan long before I discovered old HST.

Some of the first email discussions I had with James and Steve centered around the idea of “gonzo analysis,” so you can guess that I treat HST as a job role model as well…though, without all the craziness, except coffee. I must have coffee. We concluded that Jon Udell was the ultimate gonzo analyst: not only “reporting” on what’s happening, but actively making the story happen as well.

Eat it! We’ll Just Buy You.

All of that is a preface to explaining why I like reading interviews with Larry Ellison. Even though, as many allege, he doesn’t follow the honest part to a T, he’s certainly succinct, unguarded, and involved. He’s a total gonzo CEO.

For example:

Forbes: What will you do with Oracle’s cash?

Ellison: We can buy back our stock. We can buy…I’ll give you a list. We can buy BEA and buy our stock back. Buy a lot of our stock back and buy Business Objects. Buy a lot of our stock back and buy somebody else.

Forbes: If we publish that, BEA’s stock will jump, like Novell did recently after you expressed interest publicly.

Ellison: Yes, open source, that’s another topic. I’m not sure they understood what I said.

That one made me laugh outloud. I mean: “normal” CEO’s wouldn’t just rattle off a list of potential acquisitions.

The Oracle lawyers must have guts of steel and assistants just to carry around all the antacid they scarf down hourly. I’m guessing the more senior ones have been fitted with direct tubes to their stomachs for delivering a steady stream of Pepto.

Disclaimer: BEA is a client, as is Oracle through Sleepycat.

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Categories: The Analyst Life.