Revenge: Jebat vs. Garnett

1. Why Hang Tuah is considered a hero instead of Hang Jebat? Except for Kassim Ahmad, who recognized Hang Jebat heroship for his revenge against Tuah’s death sentence, many of us still worship Tuah instead of Jebat.

2. The reason is that our society rejects revenge solely which involve the act of rebellion (durhaka) against Sultan. I would like to leave the ‘durhaka’ issue behind.

3. Is revenge a good motivation for success?

4. Terry Garnett, A former Oracle Corp. (ORCL ) senior vice-president, spent the early 1990s traveling around the world with Ellison, Oracle’s CEO. They hobnobbed with the likes of media moguls David Geffen and Barry Diller as the company tried to become a player in the interactive-TV business. Garnett and the software billionaire were so tight that Ellison even invited him and his wife to go along on a vacation to Kyoto in 1994.

5. That year marked the 1,200th anniversary of the founding of Japan’s former imperial capital, a meaningful occasion for Ellison, a passionate Japanophile. Together, he, Garnett, and four others made the pilgrimage along the cherry-blossom-lined Philosopher’s Walk to the famed Ginkakuji Temple.

6. But what came next led to the bad blood that Garnett still tastes more than 12 years later. Within weeks of their return from Japan, Ellison summoned Garnett to his office. He scrapped the interactive-TV startup the two were planning and, Garnett claims, fired him without giving a clear reason. “It was pretty clinical,” he recalls. “I tried to keep composed.”

7. Feeling numb, Garnett returned to his office, not more than 30 feet away, and packed up. Afterward, he spent weeks trying to understand why he had been fired. Garnett later sued Ellison, accusing him of unfairly firing him, but then he dropped the claims. (Oracle officials declined to comment, but their reply to Garnett’s suit cites his “declining productivity.”) Brimming with anger, Garnett made a vow to himself: “There will be a day of reckoning.”

8. Today he is acting CEO of Ingres Corp., a software upstart that’s gunning to grab market share from Oracle.

9. Ask CEOs what drives them, and they’ll talk about success, personal fulfillment—a few will even admit being driven by the desire for money and power. But Garnett’s professed appetite for payback is a motivation rarely leaked from executives’ on-message lips. It’s one of the great undiscussable. Just as you don’t talk about lust in the executive suite, you don’t talk about revenge as a significant motivator for success. But it clearly is.

10. The question is how long you would be able to keep the power of revenge in you? And don’t you think your revenge wouldn’t turn up to form psychosomatic illness in you? You answer…

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