5 years ago... Gates claims victory in $1m bet with Ellison

But did Larry honour it?
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

But did Larry honour it?

19.03.99: Microsoft is trying to claim $1m from Larry Ellison, after it met the conditions of a challenge set by the Oracle chairman and CEO in November.

Four months ago, Ellison said that if anyone could make Microsoft's SQL Server database work at more than 10 per cent of the speed of Oracle 8i, he'd give them $1m.

However, on 22 February Oracle withdrew the offer, just weeks before Microsoft claimed victory.

19.03.04: Did Larry ever pay up? It would seem not - apparently Oracle was happy that it was playing fair and Microsoft hadn't risen to the challenge in time.

While bravado and outspokenness from Ellison are hardly rarities, the way that this story unfolded will have been a surprise to many.

It's likely Oracle's actions will have been interpreted in some quarters as 'welshing' - the equivalent of picking up your chips from the middle of the table and running for the casino exit when the jitters hit about the quality of the cards you're holding.

It would have been far more in keeping with the playboy public image that Ellison has created if he had opened his wallet and settled the bet in cash.

Such showmanship would certainly have created more positive headlines - since the IT press relies heavily on characters such as Ellison to hold up the rest of the rather grey and uninspiring people who surround them in the industry.

Editorial standards