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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jeff Walker: Architect of the Perfect Virus

Today, I'm naming the third member of my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League: Jeffrey L. Waker. He joins Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff, and I give him the team  assignment to architect the Cyber Privateer Attack Weapons Suite. I've known and worked with Jeff on and off for over twenty-five years, first at Oracle when Larry Ellison appointed him VP of Marketing, and later at TenFold where I served as a consultant and then as a member of their board of directors. Let me tell you about Jeff.

Jeff is the only person I've ever heard Larry Ellison describe as being smarter than Larry. Given that Larry is off-the-charts brilliant and profoundly reluctant to acknowledge anyone else's superiority, this should mean quite a lot to the rest of the planet. And while Jeff began his tenure at Oracle in marketing, Larry quickly made him both CFO and head of the Oracle's new Applications Division. Marketing, finance and applications? These assignments alone establish Jeff's bona fides. It is his applications prowess that earns him a place on my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League, however.

Jeff is an applications and cyber-process genius of the first waters. His work architecting the Oracle Applicatioins Division so profoundly affected Oracle, that years later his replacement (Nimish Mehta, now interestingly the Senior Vice President, Enterprise Information Management at SAP) commented that "Even though he is long gone, Jeff Walker still runs the Oracle Applications Division." What he meant, of course, is that Jeff's business architecture created an organization that could operate at maximum efficiency and operational professionalism. That's Jeff Walker for you.

When Jeff tracked me down to help him with his public company Tenfold, he immediately endeared himself to me by saying, "You wouldn't know a good application if it bit you." Now since my training is really in mathematics and since I'd once written a real-time operating system that took less than 700 bytes of computer memory, I could have been offended. Instead, I kept my ego in check and paid close attention. Over the next few years, first as a consultant and then as a member of his board of directors, I learned about applications. And guess what? Jeff was right. Before that time, I absolutely didn't have the faintest idea what constituted a good application.

Jeff wrote a seminal document called The Principles of the Perfect Application, in which he enumerated twenty-two concepts that no application has ever achieved (not even his TenFold platform). While doing research for a sequel novel (all of us ad guys are really closet novelists), I reviewed his document. It slowly dawned on me that with the addition of very few new principles, Jeff had created a platform for the Ultimate Virus. I also think it would be the Ultimate Cyber Privateer Toolkit.

One of the criterion for membership in my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team is the ability to work with both Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff. Since these three individuals know each other well, and since there is great mutual respect, I believe they could come to a working accommodation. My big dilemma is whether or not I should share Jeff's architectural principles in this blog. Naturally, I'm repositioning them in terms of The Perfect Virus, but do I really want to make things easier for the bad guys to get it right?

Maybe the answer to the question would be to ask Jeff what he thinks. Would he even give me permission to use his intellectual property as the jumping off point for a discussion? Stay tuned. I'll let you know what he thinks.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?