||The lead section of this article may need to be rewritten. (April 2013)|
Larry Ellison in October 2009.
August 17, 1944 |
Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Woodside, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (dropped out)
University of Chicago (dropped out)
|Occupation||CEO of Oracle Corporation|
|Known for||Co-founder of Oracle Corporation|
|Salary||$96.2 M (2012)|
|Net worth||US$ 43 billion (2012)|
Lawrence Joseph "Larry" Ellison (born August 17, 1944) is an American business magnate, co-founder and chief executive of Oracle Corporation, an enterprise software company. As of 2012, he was the third-wealthiest American with an estimated worth of $41 billion including his ownership of Oracle company stock.
Larry Ellison was born in New York City to an unwed mother of Jewish heritage; his father was an Italian American U.S. Air Force pilot. After he contracted pneumonia at the age of nine months his mother gave him to her aunt and uncle for adoption. Larry did not meet his biological mother again until he was 48.
Ellison graduated from Eugene Field Elementary School in Chicago in January 1958 and attended Sullivan High School at least through the fall of 1959 before moving to South Shore. He grew up in a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago's South Shore middle-class Jewish neighborhood. Ellison remembers his adoptive mother as warm and loving, in contrast to his austere, unsupportive, and often distant adoptive father, who adopted the name Ellison to honor his point of entry into the USA, Ellis Island. Louis Ellison was a modest 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 sceptic. 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 was a bright but inattentive student. He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after his second year, after not taking his final exams because his adoptive mother had just died. After spending a summer in Northern California, Ellison attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he first encountered computer design. In 1966, aged 22, he moved to northern California.
During the 1970s, after a brief stint at Amdahl Corporation, Ellison worked for Ampex Corporation. One of his projects was a database for the CIA, which he named "Oracle". Ellison was inspired by the 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 came from Ellison.
In 1979, the company was renamed Relational Software Inc., later renamed Oracle after the flagship product Oracle database. He had heard about the IBM System R database, also based on Codd's theories, and wanted Oracle to be compatible with it, but IBM made this impossible by refusing to share System R's code. The initial release of Oracle was Oracle 2; there was no Oracle 1.
In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% (about 400 people) of its work force because it was losing money. This crisis, which almost resulted in Oracle'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. This became a problem when the future sales subsequently failed to materialize. Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings twice, and also to settle out of court class action lawsuits arising from its having overstated its earnings. Ellison would later say that Oracle had made "an incredible business mistake."
Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on UNIX and Windows operating systems. This left the door open for Sybase, Oracle, and Informix (and eventually Microsoft) to dominate mid-range systems and microcomputers.
Around this time, Oracle fell behind Sybase. In 1990–1993, Sybase was the fastest growing database company and the database industry's darling vendor, but soon fell victim to its merger mania. Sybase's 1993 merger with Powersoft resulted in a loss of focus on its core database technology. In 1993, Sybase sold the rights to its database software running under the Windows operating system to Microsoft Corporation, which now markets it under the name "SQL Server."
In 1994, Informix overtook Sybase and became Oracle's most important rival. The intense war between Informix CEO Phil White and Ellison was front page Silicon Valley news for three years. In April 1997, Informix announced a major revenue shortfall and earnings restatements; Phil White eventually landed in jail, and Informix was absorbed by IBM in 2001. Also in 1997, Ellison was made a director of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs came back to the company. Ellison resigned in 2002, saying "my schedule does not currently allow me to attend enough of the formal board meetings to warrant a role as a director." 
Once Informix and Sybase were defeated, Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft SQL Server in the late 1990s and IBM's acquisition of Informix Software in 2001 to complement their DB2 database. Today Oracle's main competition for new database licenses on UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems is with IBM's DB2, and with Microsoft SQL Server (which only runs on Windows). IBM's DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market. Oracle also faces significant competition from Open Source software such as PostgreSQL and NoSQL data storage systems such as MongoDB. For a short period in 2000, Ellison was the richest man in the world. In 2005, Oracle paid Ellison a $975,000 salary, a $6,500,000 bonus, and other compensation of $955,100. In 2007, Ellison earned a total compensation of $61,180,524, which included a base salary of $1,000,000, a cash bonus of $8,369,000, and options granted of $50,087,100. In 2008, he earned a total compensation of $84,598,700, which included a base salary of $1,000,000, a cash bonus of $10,779,000, no stocks granted, and options granted of $71,372,700. In the year ending May 31, 2009 he made $56.8 million. In 2006, Forbes ranked him as the richest Californian.
In April 2009, Oracle announced its intent to buy Sun Microsystems after a tug of war with IBM and Hewlett-Packard. On July 2, 2009, for the fourth year in a row, Oracle's Board awarded Ellison another 7 million stock options. On August 22, 2009, it was reported that Ellison would be paid only $1 for his base salary for the fiscal year of 2010, down from the $1,000,000 he was paid in fiscal 2009.
The European Union approved the acquisition by Oracle of Sun Microsystems on January 21, 2010 and agreed that "Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalize important assets and create new and innovative products". The Sun acquisition also gave Oracle control of the popular MySQL open-source database, which Sun had acquired in 2008.
On August 9, 2010, Ellison denounced Hewlett-Packard's board for firing CEO Mark Hurd, writing: "The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago." Ellison and Hurd are close personal friends. Then on September 6, Oracle hired Mark Hurd and made him Co-President alongside Safra A. Catz. Ellison retained the CEO position. As of March 10, 2010, Ellison was listed on the Forbes list of billionaires as the sixth richest person in the world. Ellison is the third richest American, with an estimated net worth of US $28 billion. On July 27, 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ellison was the best-paid executive in the last decade, collecting a total compensation of US $1.84 billion. In September 2011, Ellison was listed on the Forbes List of Billionaires as the fifth richest man in the world. Ellison is still the third richest American, with a net worth of about $36.5 billion.
Ellison owns stakes in Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Quark Biotechnology Inc. and Astex Pharmaceuticals. In June 2012 Ellison agreed to buy 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lana'i from David Murdock's company, Castle & Cooke. The price was reported to be between $500 million and $600 million. Ellison agreed to settle a four year-old insider trading lawsuit by offering to pay $100 million in October of 2012. As of September 2012, Ellison was listed on the Forbes List of Billionaires as the third richest American citizen, behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, with a net worth of $44 billion. As of October 2012, Ellison was listed just behind David Hamilton Koch as the as the 8th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Ellison made a brief cameo appearance in the 2010 movie Iron Man 2.  In 2010, Ellison purchased a 50% share in one of the top four tennis tournaments in the United States, the BNP Paribas Open. Ellison owns many exotic cars, including an Audi R8, and a McLaren F1. His favorite is the Acura NSX, which he was known to give as gifts each year during its production. Ellison is also reportedly the owner of a Lexus LFA and a Lexus LS600hL.
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 was a crew member for the second race.
Previously, Ellison filed several legal challenges, through the Golden Gate Yacht Club, against the way that Ernesto Bertarelli (also one of the world's richest men) has proposed to organize the 33rd America's Cup following the 2007 victory of Bertarelli's team Alinghi. The races were finally held[clarification needed] in February 2010 in Valencia, Spain.
In 2010, Ellison ended his ownership of the eighth largest yacht in the world, named Rising Sun. Ellison sold his remaining shares in the yacht to music and film mogul David Geffen. Rising Sun is 453 ft. (138 m) long, and reportedly cost over US $200 million to build. He "downsized" to Musashi, a 288-foot (88 m) yacht built by Feadship.
Ellison is a licensed pilot who has owned several aircraft. He was cited by the City of San Jose, California, for violating its limits on late-night takeoffs and landings from San Jose Mineta International Airport by planes weighing more than 75,000 pounds (34 019 kg). In January 2000, Ellison sued over the interpretation of the airport rule, contending that his Gulfstream V "plane is certified by the manufacturer to fly at two weights: 75,000 pounds, and at 90,000 pounds, for heavier loads or long flights requiring more fuel. But the pilot only lands the plane in San Jose when it weighs 75,000 pounds or less, and has the logs to prove it..." U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled over the matter in June 2001, calling for a waiver for Ellison's jet, but did not invalidate the curfew.
Ellison also owns at least two military jets: a SIAI-Marchetti S.211, a training aircraft designed in Italy, and a decommissioned MiG-29, for which the US Government has refused him permission to import.
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 was 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, he purchased the Astor's Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, for $10.5 million. The property was the former summer home of the prominent Astor family. 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 the former home of Yellowstone Club founder Tim Blixseth, sold to Ellison by creditors following their divorce and bankruptcy.
On June 21, 2012, Hawaii's governor, 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. Ellison owns 98% of Lanai, Hawaii's sixth-largest island.
In order to settle an insider trading lawsuit arising from Ellison's selling nearly $1 billion of Oracle stock, he was allowed to donate $100 million to his own charitable foundation without admitting wrongdoing. A California judge refused to allow Oracle to pay Ellison's legal fees of $24 million. Ellison's lawyer had argued that if Ellison were to pay the fees, that could be construed as an admission of guilt. His charitable donations to Stanford University raised questions about the independence of two Stanford professors who evaluated the case's merits for Oracle.
In response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Ellison made a controversial offer to donate to the Federal government software that would enable it to build and run a national identification database and issue ID cards.
Forbes 2004 list of charitable donations made by the wealthiest 400 Americans stated that Ellison had donated $151,092,103 in the preceding year, about 1% of his estimated personal wealth. In June 2006, he announced he would not honor his earlier pledge of $115 million to Harvard University, claiming it was due to the departure of former President Lawrence Summers. Oracle spokesman Bob Wynne announced, "It was really Larry Summers' brainchild and once it looked like Larry Summers was leaving, Larry Ellison reconsidered ... [I]t was Larry Ellison and Larry Summers that had initially come up with this notion."
In August 2010 it was reported that Ellison is one of the 40 billionaires who has signed "The Giving Pledge". Ellison wrote: "Many years ago, I put virtually all of my assets into a trust with the intent of giving away at least 95 percent of my wealth to charitable causes. I have already given hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research and education, and I will give billions more over time. Until now, I have done this giving quietly—because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter."
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