The San Francisco Chronicle has been running weekly excerpts of The Billionaire and the Mechanic, and today's sample (behind the Chron's paywall) is worth a look. This recently-published nonfiction book, written by Chronicle staffer Julian Guthrie, tells the story of Oracle founder Larry Ellison's pursuit of the Americas Cup yachting prize and the unlikely allies (including car radiator mechanic Norbert Bajurin) he enlisted along the way.
In this week's excerpt, Ms. Guthrie covers the long-enduring friendship between Ellison and Steve Jobs. The tech industry titans used to hike together, vacation with their families in Hawaii and sometimes just stroll Ellison's Japanese-themed gardens as they discussed the nature of greatness. (Jobs voted for Gandhi as a moral and political paragon; Ellison nominated Napoleon Bonaparte.)
Among the first face-to-face encounters between Jobs and Ellison, she wrote, was an incident where the two neighbors had to sort out a peacock problem; Jobs had received a small flock of peacocks as a gift and the early-morning birdcalls were driving both men batty. Ellison (who is active in animal welfare and conservation) had a solution. Jobs should tell the bird-brained gift givers that he had to put the peacocks in a shelter for their own good; his crazy neighbor Larry was losing his mind over the noise and hinting that he was researching good ways to cook peacock.
There are lots of other intriguing details in the excerpt -- including the role Ellison played in getting Jobs his Gulfstream jet after his return to Apple -- but you'll need to be a Chronicle subscriber or get your hands on the physical paper -- or the book -- to read them all.