Ellison: Computers are bunk, biotech is where it's at

Summary:The Oracle CEO played fortune teller during his keynote speech at the Oracle AppsWorld 2001 conference in New Orleans, saying that biotechnology--not computing--is where he expects innovation to happen in the 21st century.

If Oracle's Larry Ellison could do it all over again, he'd don a white lab coat and research a cure for malaria.

The high-profile chief executive of Oracle (orcl) played fortune teller during his keynote speech at the Oracle AppsWorld 2001 conference in New Orleans when asked what he'd want to do if he hadn't gone into technology. Ellison said that biotechnology--not computing--is where he expects innovation to happen in the 21st century.

"If I were 21 years old, I probably wouldn't go into computing. The computing industry is about to become boring," Ellison said. "I'd go into genetic engineering...molecular biology research...(If) you have a chance to cure malaria, (it would) affect the lives of millions.

"We've had three major generations of computing: mainframes, client-server and Internet computing," he added. "There will be no new architecture for computing for the next 1,000 years."

Ellison's viewpoints on biotechnology and the future of computing were some of the more unique comments in a speech that many Oracle faithful have heard many times before. The CEO also took time to hawk Oracle's Web-based business software and tout the company's plan of making all its software available over the Web.

Ellison trumpeted Oracle's Web-based business software as simpler and cheaper than rival offerings from SAP, PeopleSoft and others.

Oracle has touted its software, called the Oracle 11i e-business suite, as a technology companies can use to manage a wide range of business activities--including marketing, customer service, manufacturing, human resources and financials.

During his speech, Ellison derided IBM's software strategy, in which businesses buy e-business software from different companies and then hire IBM consultants to make them work together. Customers who buy Oracle's software can get it all in one easy-to-use package, he said.

"It's a whole different view of the world," Ellison said. IBM "wants you to buy lots of parts and they want to provide lots of labor. Our business is providing you software, getting it in quickly, without modifications."

While database software sales are still Oracle's bread and butter, Ellison said the company's applications business--which makes up 10 percent of overall revenue--will eventually grow to half the company's overall revenue.

During a question and answer period with journalists, Ellison was asked if he would ever run for political office. Ellison said he'd at least consider it.

"I've been asked several times, and I always give the same answer. I have no political ambitions; however, I am an educational fanatic," he said. "Education is the biggest problem my country has to deal with. If being governor can reform education in California, I'd be thrilled to do it."

Ellison also said there's no truth to the rumors that former President Bill Clinton would soon be joining the Oracle board of directors. Oracle fueled the rumors after Clinton gave a keynote speech earlier this week to attendees of the Oracle convention.

"We never had any discussions about him joining the board," said Ellison, who has long professed his admiration for Clinton. "I never talked about it to him. It never occurred to me. And it never occurred to him. It's never been discussed."

Topics: Oracle, IBM, Software

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