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Ellison is to comedy what Keith Richards is to temperance

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They will not go down in history as one of the world's greatest double acts. It is more likely that the day will be recorded as having seen one of the most toe-curlingly embarrassing displays of infomercial style sales patter. Larry Ellison had spent the best part of an hour outlining his vision of electronic business, when out of the blue, he seemed to develop a weird memory disorder and forgot everything he had just said. The CEO of Oracle and his UK marketing boss proceeded to demonstrate exactly how one would use the Internet to do business, using role play. Larry was The Sceptic, and the marketing guy had to convince him of the merits of these new-fangled computers. If Laurel & Hardy had been up there, it might have been funny. Ellison may be an astute business man, but he is no Eddie Izzard. A room full of journalists from around Europe watched in absolute horror as the scene unfolded. Fortunately for those watching there was one - we think unscripted - moment which drew a laugh from the audience. It would appear that the great electronic evangelist is not very good at answering his emails. But take heart, Mr Ellison. I have it on good authority that when Mr. Gates attempted a similar dialogue in a presentation, it was much worse than yours. ®

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