CEO public appearances tend to be scripted events down to the final comma. But anyone on hand for Larry Ellison's OracleWorld keynote got to see a technology titan at the top of his game.
Following brief prepared remarks, Ellison displayed impressive range and agility during an extended Q&A session with the audience. Call it the Two Faces of Larry. Sometimes Ellison comes across as an insufferable egomaniac. But that shouldn't detract from the recognition that this is an incredibly bright man who can think on his feet. Somehow, I can't ever imagine someone like Carly Fiorina ever agreeing to this kind of Oprah free-for-all format. Same goes for most tech CEOs, who too often hide behind their PR handlers, especially when there's the remotest hint of controversy in the air.
Ellison was playing host to a friendly crowd. However, truth be told, the audience questions were a lot sharper than those I've heard at many press conferences. Besides, there is always the wild card risk when wading into the unknown and that's what made this a fun event.