Larry Ellison, the co-founder and executive chairman of Oracle Corporation, stands as a towering figure in technology and business. His journey from a college dropout to one of the wealthiest and most influential individuals in the tech industry results from his vision, resilience, and innovative mindset. He served as Oracle’s CEO from 1977 to 2014; he is currently the company’s executive chairman and chief technology officer.
Larry Ellison Biography Highlight Table
|Lawrence Joseph Ellison
|Date of Birth
|August 17, 1944
|Chief Technology Officer and Executive Chairman of Oracle Corporation
|The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (no degree)
University of Chicago (no degree)
|Began as a computer programmer in Berkeley, California.
|Adda Quinn (1967-1974)
|Nancy Wheeler Jenkins (1977-1978)
|Barbara Boothe (1983-1986)
|Melanie Craft (2003-2010)
|Current Marital Status
|2 (David Ellison & Megan Ellison)
|Businessman and Investor
|Total Net Wealth
|Source of Wealth
|Oracle, Self Made
Early Life and Education
Ellison was born in New York City on August 17, 1944, to Florence Spellman, a single Jewish mother and an Italian-American pilot who served in the United States Army Air Corps. When Ellison was nine months old and got pneumonia, his mother gave him up for adoption to her aunt and uncle. He didn’t see his biological mother again until he was 48.
Growing up in Chicago’s South Shore, Ellison had a warm and loving adoptive mother named Lillian Spellman Ellison, but his adoptive father was distant and unsupportive. His adoptive father, Louis Ellison, chose the name Ellison to honor his arrival at Ellis Island. Louis had been a government employee who made a small fortune in Chicago real estate but lost it during the Great Depression.
He appreciates the cultural aspects but doesn’t see them as literal truths. Ellison’s admiration for Israel is not rooted in religious sentiments but rather in the innovative spirit of Israelis in technology.
Ellison attended high school in Chicago’s South Side, then went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His adoptive mother’s death in his second college year led him to drop out. He attempted college again at the University of Chicago but left after just one semester.
Ellison then spent the summer of 1966 in California, attended the University of Chicago for a term studying physics and mathematics, and discovered computer design. He eventually moved to Berkeley, California, where he started his career as a computer programmer for various companies.
Larry Ellison’s Marital Life
Ellison has been married and divorced four times
- Larry Ellison married Adda Quinn in 1967 and divorced in 1974.
- Larry Ellison married Nancy Wheeler Jenkins in 1977 and divorced in 1978. They married six months before Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories. In 1978, the couple divorced.
- Larry Ellison married Barbara Boothe in 1983 and divorced in 1986. Boothe was a former receptionist at Relational Software Inc. (RSI). They had two children, David and Megan, who are Skydance Media and Annapurna Pictures film producers.
- Larry Ellison married Melanie Craft in 2003 and divorced in 2010. They married on December 18, 2003, at his Woodside estate. Ellison’s friend Steve Jobs, former CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc., was the official wedding photographer. They divorced in 2010.
Founding of Oracle
Ellison got the idea for Oracle after reading an IBM research paper on relational databases. The paper proposed a new way of organizing data for easy accessibility. Ellison saw the enormous commercial potential of relational databases to revolutionize enterprise operations even before IBM had moved the idea out of research.
Oracle was then founded in 1977 which grew into a successful database supplier for small and medium-sized systems. The company competed with Sybase and Microsoft, leading to Forbes’ list of Ellison as the world’s richest person.
In 1979, the company was renamed Relational Software Inc. Larry Ellison wanted Oracle to be compatible with IBM’s System R databases. Still, IBM made this impossible by not sharing the code of System R.
In 1990, Oracle Corporation faced financial difficulties and had to take cost-saving measures. As a result, they decided to lay off approximately 10% of their workforce, totaling almost 400 employees. The company was struggling financially, and the situation was so dire that, in hindsight, it could have led to its bankruptcy. The crisis was attributed to a significant business mistake related to sales bonuses.
In the past, IBM held a strong position in the relational database market thanks to their DB2 and Structured Query Language (SQL/DS) database protocols. However, they faced delays in introducing relational databases for Unix and Windows operating systems. This delay allowed other companies like Sybase, Oracle, and Microsoft to step in and gain prominence. As a result, these competitors came to dominate the mid-range systems and microcomputers market.
Between 1990 and 1993, Sybase experienced rapid growth, making it the fastest-growing company in the database industry during that period. However, this success could have been improved, as the company became involved in a series of mergers. In a merger with Powersoft, Sybase lost its focus on key database technology. Consequently, in 1993, the company decided to sell the rights to its database software to Microsoft Corporation.
Oracle, Around the turn of the century
In 1994, Informix became the largest database technology vendor, surpassing Sybase and emerging as Oracle’s primary competitor. The ensuing intense rivalry between Informix’s CEO and Larry Ellison made headlines in many Silicon Valley newspapers for three years. However, in 1997, Informix faced a significant revenue shortfall, leading to substantial budget cuts. Ultimately, Phil White, the CEO of Informix, ended up in prison, and IBM acquired Informix.
During the same period, when Steve Jobs returned to the company, Larry Ellison took on the CEO role at Apple Computers. Ellison held the position until 2002, resigning from the company, which later became one of the major players in the market.
In 2004, Larry Ellison executed a “hostile takeover” of PeopleSoft, a company led by Aneel Bhusri. A hostile takeover involves bypassing the target company’s board of directors and directly approaching shareholders to acquire the company. Following this takeover, the founders of PeopleSoft, including Aneel Bhusri, founded Workday, a company now valued at around 10 billion dollars.
With the defeat of Informix and Sybase, Oracle enjoyed dominant years until the late 1990s when Microsoft SQL Server began to rise.
In 2005, Larry Ellison received a base salary of $975,000 from Oracle and a $6.5 million bonus. His total earnings in 2007 exceeded 61 million dollars, and in 2008, he earned over $84 million.
In 2006, Forbes ranked Ellison as the richest Californian. In 2009, due to some disputes with IBM and Hewlett-Packard, Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion, with Ellison receiving an additional 7 million in stock options.
Why Is Larry Ellison a Business Legend?
Larry Ellison is considered a business legend because of his crucial role in establishing and leading Oracle Corporation. He is recognized for his visionary leadership, technological innovations, and strategic acumen, significantly influencing the technology industry. Ellison’s dedication to innovation, aggressive competitive strategies, and early recognition of the potential of cloud computing not only propelled Oracle to global prominence but also established him as a key figure in the business world. Under his guidance, Oracle achieved financial success, and his resilience and adaptability in navigating a rapidly evolving industry solidified his legacy as a business icon. While there is debate about his management style, there is no denying his lasting impact on the technology sector, cementing his status as a business legend.
Importance and impact on the tech industry
Larry Ellison has profoundly shaped the technology industry through his founding and leadership of Oracle Corporation. His visionary approach, commitment to technological innovation, and strategic acumen have positioned Oracle as a global powerhouse. Ellison’s early recognition of the potential of cloud computing has been instrumental in the company’s success in a rapidly evolving industry. Despite debates about his management style, there is no denying the enduring impact he has had on the technology sector, solidifying his legacy as a business icon and leaving an indelible mark on the trajectory of modern technology.
What Is Larry Ellison’s Net Worth?
Larry Ellison’s net worth is a bit dynamic due to fluctuations in the stock market, particularly with Oracle shares, which comprise a large portion of his wealth. As of January 20, 2024, his net worth is $138.2B.
Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle and a tech billionaire, is recognized for his business endeavors and substantial engagement in charitable causes. Larry Ellison’s charitable work spans diverse fields, prioritizing health, education, and environmental improvements. His philanthropic efforts are centered around several key areas:
Health and Aging Research
- Ellison Medical Foundation: Established in 1997, the foundation has pledged over $2 billion to advance groundbreaking research on aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. This includes funding innovative projects like the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Aging (ICA) and the Open Aging Database (OAD).
- Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine: Founded in 2016 at the University of Southern California, the institute aims to revolutionize cancer treatment and prevention through personalized medicine and immunotherapy research
- Donations exceeding $200 million to various educational institutions, including USC, MIT, and Stanford University, supporting STEM education, scholarships, and research initiatives.
- The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: As a co-trustee, Ellison is involved in a foundation focusing on enhancing science education at all levels and funding environmental conservation efforts.
- Active support for Island Conservation, an organization dedicated to safeguarding native species and ecosystems on islands globally. Ellison has also contributed land for conservation efforts in Hawaii and California.
- Contributions to Ocean Conservancy, an organization dedicated to cleaning up oceans and reducing plastic pollution.
Global Health and Disaster Relief
- Support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative through significant donations to eradicate polio worldwide.
- Financial assistance for disaster relief efforts, aiding victims of natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.
His contributions and leadership in these areas have positively impacted many lives; it’s important to acknowledge criticisms regarding certain aspects of his philanthropy, including concerns about transparency and alignment with personal interests. Nonetheless, Ellison’s commitment to using his wealth for positive change remains noteworthy.
Famous Friends of Larry Ellison
|Visionary co-founder of Apple Inc
|Co-founder of Hollywood Picture
|Businessman and philanthropist in the entertainment industry
|American broadcast journalist and television personality.
Awards and Recognitions
- Ellison was honored with the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award 1997.
- In 2013, Ellison was inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame.
- In 2019, the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC honored Ellison with the first Rebels With A Cause Award for his generous support.
Unknown Fact of Larry Ellison
- Larry Ellison is currently the 4th richest person on the planet, with a net worth of $138.2 billion.
- His great-aunt and uncle adopted him after he was born to an unmarried mother in New York City. It would be nearly fifty years before he saw his birth mother again.
- Larry Ellison did not have that natural advantage in his early years because he was not exposed to computers during childhood.
- Ellison studied at both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago but dropped out of school for good to move to California in 1966.
- Before the loss of his mother, Ellison had been named science student of the year at the University of Illinois.
- In 1977, Larry Ellison co-founded his first business. The name of his first business was Software Development Laboratories, and he invested $1200 on them.
- Larry Ellison almost lost everything when Oracle nearly went bankrupt in the early 1990s.
- Ellison faced many injuries as a result of his participation in extreme sports, including mountain biking and body surfing.
- In 1997, he received his Academy of Achievement induction from the Museum of Living History in Washington.
- The Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Centre received a $5 million seed donation from him, hence the name Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Centre, which opened in 1998.
- He is one of the 128 billionaires who signed The Giving Pledge, pledging to donate at least half their wealth to charitable organizations.
- Ellison has long been passionate about yachting, and in 2013, his Oracle Team USA defeated the Emirates Team New Zealand to win the America’s Cup.
- He owns 98% of the island of Lanai in Hawaiian.
- He’s tried and failed to buy two NBA teams, the New Orleans Hornets and Golden Gate Warriors.
- Ellison reportedly owns millions of dollars in real estate worldwide, including a Rhode Island estate and historic gardens in Kyoto.
- Ellison sued the City of San Jose in 2000 after he was cited for violating rules around night takeoffs and landings at the San Jose Mineta International Airport. He won.
- Ellison had access to $1 billion in credit as of 2002. It was discovered that Ellison’s accountant had reprimanded him for constantly pushing his credit limit to the limit with extravagant purchases like mansions, yachts, and luxury cars when a judge unsealed court records from a shareholder lawsuit in 2006.
- A 2003 book by investigative journalist Mike Wilson gets to the heart of Ellison’s legendary reputation. It’s titled The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison*: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison.
- Ellison was responsible for the priciest real estate deal in US history when he purchased five lots on Malibu’s Carbon Beach in 2004 for $65 million.
- Ellison oversaw Oracle’s acquisition-based growth strategy from 2004 to 2007, during which the business spent $25 billion on acquisitions of large and small software brands.
- In 2006, Forbes declared him the richest Californian.
- That same year, Ellison made waves by reneging on his pledge to donate $115 million to Harvard University after the school President’s departure.
- Between 2007 and 2009, Ellison raked in over $50 million annually. In August 2009, his base salary was reduced from $1 million to one dollar.
- Ellison owned one of the largest yachts on the planet until 2010 when he sold his rights to the Rising Sun to David Geffen.
- He’s a licensed pilot and owns two military jets.
- Ellison has been married and divorced four times. His second wife married him before the founding of Oracle, and when they divorced shortly after, signed off on any rights to the company for $500.
- When Ellison married his fourth wife, romance novelist Melanie Craft, his good friend Steve Jobs served as a wedding photographer.
- In the 2010 film Iron Man 2, Ellison briefly appeared alongside fellow tech guru Elon Musk.
- In 2011, Ellison hired a “tree lawyer” and took his neighbors to court for blocking his views with three redwoods and an acacia tree.
- In 2014, Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle in 2014, entrusting the company he built from the ground up to two trusted colleagues. He is currently the CTO and Executive Chairman.
- In 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO, he invited Ellison to join the board. Ellison stayed for a while but could not commit the necessary time.
- In 2010, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, a server company founded in 1982, around the same time as Oracle. Oracle gained control over several important technologies from that acquisition, including the well-known MySQL database.
- In, 2018, Larry Ellison invested $1 billion to purchase 3 million Tesla shares. He and Elon Musk are longtime friends. He owned 1.7% of Tesla when he disclosed his ownership to the SEC. His 3 million shares increased to 15 million following the August 2020 5-1 stock split by the company. Those 15 million shares had a total market value of $13 billion at various points in 2021, but it was, on average, closer to $10 billion.
In the dynamic world of the technology industry, Larry Ellison stands out as a figure who has made an indelible mark. His journey, from humble beginnings to co-founding Oracle Corporation, goes beyond personal success; it is a compelling testament to the transformative influence of visionary leadership in information technology. Ellison’s narrative isn’t just that of a tech titan; it’s a saga of envisioning and molding the future with unwavering determination. His legacy inspires aspiring entrepreneurs and provides a valuable case study on the dynamic intersection of technology, leadership, and the pursuit of excellence. Amidst the ongoing evolution of the tech industry, Larry Ellison’s influence endures—a lasting symbol of the innovative spirit that defines Oracle and its visionary co-founder.
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