Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has nothing but praise for the US National Security Agency's domestic surveillance programs, but he's far less kind when it comes to Google – and in particular its CEO, Larry Page, whose behavior he describes as "evil."
"I know his slogan is 'don't be evil,'" Ellison told correspondent Charlie Rose in an interview with CBS This Morning that aired on Tuesday. "I think he slipped up this one time."
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By "this one time," Ellison meant Google's decision to use Oracle's Java language and tools as the development platform for its Android smartphone OS, which has been the subject of an ongoing court battle between the two companies.
Most of the US federal court decisions in the case have fallen on Google's side, but Oracle hasn't given up yet, and Ellison himself remains unswervingly convinced that the Mountain View Chocolate Factory is in the wrong.
"We just think they took our stuff and that was wrong. I think what they did was absolutely evil," Ellison said, adding that the decision to go with Java for Android was "100 per cent Larry Page."
"I don't see how he thinks you can just copy someone else's stuff. It really bothers me," the database mogul continued.
As for Oracle's competition with other tech companies, Ellison seemed unconcerned. "The only guys I have trouble with are the Google guys," he said.
In a segment of the interview that was broadcast earlier, Ellison heaped praise on his late friend, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, and said that although he liked current CEO Tim Cook, he expected Cupertino's fortunes to wane in Jobs' absence, as they have in the past.
But for once he made no mention of Microsoft, at one time Oracle's most hated rival. Perhaps that's because these days Redmond is also battling Google in the courts over Android, in its case on antitrust grounds – "the enemy of my enemy," and all that.
If there was one topic about which Ellison was unflinchingly enthusiastic, however, it was NSA surveillance, some details of which were revealed by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, now a fugitive enjoying asylum in Russia.
"It's great," Ellison said of the domestic spying. "It's great, it's essential. President Obama thinks it's essential. It's essential if we want to minimize the kind of strikes that we just had in Boston. It's absolutely essential."
At this point, we would be remiss not to point out that the US government is a key market for Oracle. The NSA is a customer, and Oracle itself takes its name from a CIA project Ellison and cofounders Bob Miner and Ed Oates worked on at Ampex in the 1970s.
If some people don't like what NSA is doing, Ellison argued, the trick is to vote the spying programs away. "The great thing is that we live in a democracy. If we don't like what NSA is doing, we can just get rid of the government and put in a different government," he said.
Pressed to say where he would draw the line on domestic surveillance, he ventured that it would be wrong if the data were used for political ends – "In other words, if we stopped looking for terrorists and started for looking for people on the other side of the aisle."
But even if we dismantled the NSA, Ellison warned, that wouldn't mean nobody would be collecting the kinds of data the NSA gathers. American Express, Visa, and other financial services companies have all been building detailed profiles on their customers since long before the issue of government surveillance ever came up, he said – so why shouldn't the government have the same tools?
"This whole issue of privacy is utterly fascinating to me," Ellison said. "Who's ever heard of this information being misused by the government? In what way?" ®