Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has built a career on selling customers enterprise software, but he apparently draws a line when it comes to video games and their effect on today's youth.
"I am so disturbed by kids who spend all day playing video games," Ellison said during a Q&A session at the HCM World conference in Las Vegas on Thursday. "When I was a kid the sun rose, I was on my bike, and if my parents were lucky I was home before dark."
"People have chosen games where there's a virtual ball rather than a real ball, and they prefer virtual games to real games because they're easy," he added.
Ellison's daughter Megan Ellison produced the recently released film "Her," which is about a man who falls in love with an artificially intelligent software system. While making it clear he enjoyed the movie immensely, Ellison struck a more serious tone as he continued on the subject of video games.
"Your game playing is more fun because you're more successful, in virtual reality," he said. "The impact of technology on children, right now in different aspects of our lives, is sometimes fabulous, and sometimes terrible."
One audience member asked Ellison, 69, what still drives him day to day.
"Life for me is a journey of discovery," he said. "There are a lot of things we discover. I'm very interested in technology. But I think in the end, we're all interested in people more than we are in other things. One of the people we're interested in is ourselves. What can I accomplish? Where do I stack up?"
Applying that philosophy to Oracle's business "helps me to stretch my limits," Ellison added.
Ever the savvy businessman, Ellison managed to shift the conversation into a bit of a sales pitch.
"To me, being successful is not the number of employees or even the revenue or profit," but the number of great products Oracle can produce, he said. "The famous cliche is, make a difference. Change lives. This technology changes lives in a good way, as opposed to video games."
Ellison conducted the Q&A session after giving a speech on Oracle's array of HCM (human capital management) software, which companies use for everything from recruiting to training and employee retention.
Oracle loses key employees sometimes, but not to IBM or SAP, Ellison said. "We lose people to dreams. They have dreams of joining a startup and making a big difference in a small company and striking gold when that company goes public. I have no objection. People have to follow their dreams. I did."
The experience people such as that gain makes them more mature and valuable to Oracle, and they're always welcome back "with open arms," Ellison added.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is [email protected]