Larry Ellison biography
Larry Ellison biography: Lawrence Joseph Ellison is an American business magnate, investor who is a co-founder, the executive chairman and chief technology officer (CTO) of Oracle Corporation.
He is also the owner of the 41st largest island in the United States, Lanai in the Hawaiian Islands with a population of just over 3000.
Early life and education
Larry Ellison was born in New York City, to an unwed Jewish mother. His biological father was an Italian-American United States Army Air Corps pilot.
After Ellison contracted pneumonia at the age of nine months, his mother gave him to her aunt and uncle for adoption. He did not meet his biological mother again until he was 48.
Ellison moved to Chicago’s South Shore, then a middle-class neighborhood. He remembers his adoptive mother as warm and loving, in contrast to his austere, unsupportive, and often distant adoptive father, who had chosen the name Ellison to honor his point of entry into the United States, Ellis Island. Louis Ellison was a government employee who had made a small fortune in Chicago real estate, only to lose it during the Great Depression.
Although Ellison was raised in a Reform Jewish home by his adoptive parents, who attended synagogue regularly, he remained a religious skeptic. Ellison states: “While I think I am religious in one sense, the particular dogmas of Judaism are not dogmas I subscribe to. I don’t believe that they are real. They’re interesting stories.
They’re interesting mythology, and I certainly respect people who believe these are literally true, but I don’t. I see no evidence for this stuff.” At age thirteen, Ellison refused to have a bar mitzvah celebration. Ellison says that his fondness for Israel is not connected to religious sentiments, but rather due to the innovative spirit of Israelis in the technology sector.
Ellison attended South Shore High School in Chicago and later was admitted to University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and was enrolled as a premed student. At Illinois, he was named science student of the year but later withdrew without taking final exams after his sophomore year, because his adoptive mother had just died. After spending the summer of 1966 in California, he then attended the University of Chicago for one term, studying physics and mathematics.
He did not take any exams and at Chicago he first encountered computer design. In 1966, aged 22, he moved to Berkeley, California.
Ellison has been married and divorced four times:
- Adda Quinn from 1967 to 1974.
- Nancy Wheeler Jenkins from 1977 to 1978. They married six months before Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories. In 1978, the couple divorced. Wheeler gave up any claim on her husband’s company for $500.
- Barbara Boothe from 1983 to 1986. Boothe was a former receptionist at Relational Software Inc. (RSI). They had two children, David and Megan, who are film producers at Skydance Media and Annapurna Pictures, respectively.
- Melanie Craft, a romance novelist, from 2003 to 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, and Representative Tom Lantos officiated. They divorced in 2010.
Ellison styled his estimated $110 million Woodside, California, estate after feudal Japanese architecture, complete with a man-made 2.3-acre (0.93 ha) lake and an extensive seismic retrofit. In 2004 and 2005 he purchased more than 12 properties in Malibu, California, worth more than $180 million.
The $65 million Ellison spent on five contiguous lots at Malibu’s Carbon Beach made this the most costly residential transaction in United States history until Ron Perelman sold his Palm Beach, Florida, compound for $70 million later that same year.
His entertainment system cost $1 million, and includes a rock concert-sized video projector at one end of a drained swimming pool, using the gaping hole as a giant subwoofer.
In early 2010, Ellison purchased the Astor’s Beechwood Mansion – formerly the summer home of the Astor family – in Newport, Rhode Island, for $10.5 million.
In 2011 he purchased the 249-acre Porcupine Creek Estate and private golf course in Rancho Mirage, California, for $42.9 million. The property was formerly the home of Yellowstone Club founders Edra and Tim Blixseth, and was sold to Ellison by creditors following their divorce and bankruptcy.
On June 21, 2012, the governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, declared that Ellison had signed an agreement to buy most of the island of Lanai from the Castle & Cooke company, owned by David H. Murdock. Following the purchase Ellison owns 98% of Lanai, Hawaii’s sixth-largest island.
In December 2020, he left California and moved to Hawaii.
In 1992 Ellison shattered his elbow in a high-speed bicycle crash. After receiving treatment at University of California, Davis, Ellison donated $5 million to seed the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Center. In 1998, the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center opened on the Sacramento campus of the UC Davis Medical Center.
In 2007 Ellison pledged $500,000 to fortify a community centre in Sderot, Israel, after discovering that the building was not fortified against rocket attacks.
Other charitable donations by Ellison include a $10 million donation to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in 2014. In 2017 Ellison again donated to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, this time for $16.6 million. His donation was intended to support the construction of well-being facilities on a new campus for co-ed conscripts.
In August 2010 a report listed Ellison as one of the 40 billionaires who had signed “The Giving Pledge”.
In May 2016 Ellison donated $200 million to the University of Southern California for establishing a cancer research center: the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC.
Ellison was critical of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, saying that “Snowden had yet to identify a single person who had been ‘wrongly injured’ by the NSA’s data collection”. He has donated to both Democratic and Republican politicians,and in late 2014 hosted Republican Senator Rand Paul at a fundraiser at his home.
Ellison was one of the top donors to Conservative Solutions PAC, a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid. As of February 2016, Ellison had given $4 million overall to the PAC.
In 2020, Ellison allowed Donald Trump to have a fundraiser at his Rancho Mirage estate, but Ellison was not present.
In 1997, Ellison received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
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 in recognition of his generous support through the years.
Early career and Oracle
While working at Ampex in the early 1970s, he became influenced by Edgar F. Codd’s research on relational database design, which led in 1977 to the formation of what became Oracle. Oracle became a successful database vendor to mid- and low-range systems, later competing with Sybase (created 1984) and Microsoft SQL Server which led to Ellison being listed by Forbes as one of the richest people in the world.
During the 1970s, after a brief stint at Amdahl Corporation, Ellison began working for Ampex Corporation. His projects included a database for the CIA, which he named “Oracle”. Ellison was inspired by a paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems called “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks”.
In 1977, he founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) with two partners and an investment of $2,000; $1,200 of the money was his.
In 1979, the company renamed itself Relational Software Inc., and in 1983, officially became Oracle Systems Corporation after its flagship product, the Oracle Database. Ellison had heard about the IBM System R database, also based on Codd’s theories, and wanted Oracle to achieve compatibility with it, but IBM made this impossible by refusing to share System R’s code.
The initial release of Oracle in 1979 was called Oracle 2; there was no Oracle 1. In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% of its workforce (about 400 people) because it was losing money.
This crisis, which almost resulted in the company’s bankruptcy, came about because of Oracle’s “up-front” marketing strategy, in which sales people urged potential customers to buy the largest possible amount of software all at once. The sales people then booked the value of future license sales in the current quarter, thereby increasing their bonuses.
In 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal, Ellison earned $94.6 million. On September 18, 2014, Ellison appointed Mark Hurd to CEO of Oracle from his former position as President; Safra Catz was also made CEO, moving from her former role as CFO. Ellison assumed the positions of chief technology officer and executive chairman.
In November 2016, Oracle bought NetSuite for $9.3 billion. Ellison owned 35% of NetSuite at the time of the purchase making him $3.5 billion personally.
In 2017, Forbes estimated that Ellison was the 4th richest person in tech.
In June 2018, Ellison’s net worth was about $54.5 billion, according to Forbes.
In December 2018, Ellison became a director on the board of Tesla, Inc., after purchasing 3 million shares earlier that year.
As of December 31, 2019, Ellison owns 36.2% of the shares of Oracle Corporation, and 1.7% of the shares of Tesla.
In April 2020, he launched a wellness company Hawaiian Island Lanai called Sensei.
With the economic downturn of 2010, Ellison sold his share of Rising Sun, the 12th largest yacht in the world, making David Geffen the sole owner. The vessel is 453 feet (138 metres)n is long, and reportedly cost over $200 million to build. He downsized to Musashi, a 288-foot (88-metre) yacht built by Feadship.
Ellison competes in yachting through Oracle Team USA. Following success racing Maxi yachts, Ellison founded BMW Oracle Racing to compete for the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup.
In 2002, Ellison’s Oracle’s team introduced kite yachting into the America’s Cup environment. Kite sail flying lasting about 30 minutes was achieved during testing in New Zealand.
BMW Oracle Racing was the “Challenger of Record” on behalf of the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco for the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, until eliminated from the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger-selection series in the semi-finals. On February 14, 2010, Ellison’s yacht USA 17 won the second race (in the best of three “deed of gift” series) of the 33rd America’s Cup, after winning the first race two days earlier. Securing a historic victory, Ellison and his BMW Oracle team became the first challengers to win a “deed of gift” match. The Cup returned to American shores for the first time since 1995. Ellison served as a crew member in the second race.
Previously, Ellison had filed several legal challenges, through the Golden Gate Yacht Club, against the way that Ernesto Bertarelli (also one of the world’s richest men) proposed to organize the 33rd America’s Cup following the 2007 victory of Bertarelli’s team Alinghi. The races were finally held in February 2010 in Valencia.
On September 25, 2013, Ellison’s Oracle Team USA defeated Emirates Team New Zealand to win the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay, California. Oracle Team USA had been penalized two points in the final for cheating by some team members during the America’s Cup World Series warm-up events. The Oracle team came from a 1–8 deficit to win 9–8, in what has been called “one of the greatest comebacks in sports history”.
Oracle Racing lost the 2017 America’s Cup to Team New Zealand.
In 2019, Ellison, in conjunction with Russell Coutts, started the SailGP international racing series. The series used F50 foiling catamarans, the fastest class of boat in history with regattas held across the globe. Ellison committed to five years of funding to support the series until it could become self sustaining. The first season was successful with global audiences of over 1.8 billion.