Life and Success of Larry Ellison, Founder of Oracle

Hello, Habr! I propose a translation of the article "The life and rise of billionaire Oracle founder and international playboy Larry Ellison, who dropped out of college twice and has a $ 68 billion fortune . "


Larry Ellison, 74-year-old co-founder of Oracle, is one of the most interesting people in the field of technology.

Racing on yachts, buying entire Hawaiian islands or insulting competitors, there is always a good chance that we will be surprised that Larry, whose capital is $ 68.4 billion, will do next time.

Let us trace his path from leaving college twice to international playboy and technological titanium.

Attention, under the cut contains 50 images.

Larry Ellison currently has a net worth of $ 68.4 billion, Forbes reports. This makes him the seventh richest man in the world.

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born in the Bronx on August 17, 1944 in a single mother family by the name of Florence Spellman.

Larry Ellison, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and CTO of Oracle, gives a presentation during the 2014 Oracle Open World Conference in San Francisco.

When he was 9 months old, baby Larry fell ill with pneumonia. His mother sent him to Chicago to live with her aunt and uncle, Lillian and Louis Allison.

Louis, his adoptive father, was a Russian immigrant who took the name "Allison" in honor of the place he entered in the USA: Ellis Island.

Ellison attended high school in southern Chicago, and then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

After the death of his adoptive mother, Larry dropped out of his second year of college. He later went back to college at the University of Chicago, but dropped out after his first semester.

Finally, in 1966, 22-year-old Larry moved to Berkeley, California, near the future Silicon Valley, which had already become the heyday of the technology industry.

He traveled from Chicago to California in the luxurious turquoise Thunderbird, which he thought would impress his new life.

Allison hopped from job to job, including jobs at companies like Wells Fargo and mainframe maker Amdahl. Along the way, he studied computer skills and programming.

The turning point came when Ellison joined the electronic company Ampex, which had a contract to create a database for the CIA, code-named "Oracle."

In 1977, Allison and partners Bob Miner and Ed Oates founded a new company - Software Development Laboratories. The company started with funding of $ 2,000, 1,200 of which were from Ellison’s pocket.

Oracle Co-Founders

Allison and the company were inspired by the theory of IBM scientist Edgar F. Codd about the so-called relational database - a way to store and access information for computer systems. Today, this theory is taken for granted, but in the 70s it was a revolutionary idea.

The first version of the Oracle database was version 2 — there was no version 1. In 1979, the company renamed itself Relational Software Inc., and in 1982 it officially became Oracle Systems Corp. in honor of its flagship product.

Oracle has developed rapidly, being one of the key drivers of the growing computer industry. In 1986, the company held its first public offering of shares with an income of $ 55 million.

However, in 1990, Oracle had to lay off 10% of the staff, about 400 people, due to what Allison later called "an incredible business mistake." The company allowed its sellers to record future sales in the current quarter, which means that all numbers were distorted. This led to lawsuits and trouble with regulators.

The beginning of the decade was not successful. After fixing this huge mistake, Oracle was declared close to bankruptcy. At the same time, competitors such as Sybase absorbed Oracle's market share.

This took several years, but by 1992, Allison and Oracle were able to correct the course with new staff and the popular Oracle 7 database.

Allison is known for offending competitors. For much of the 90s, he and Oracle were involved in a PR battle with rival Informix, who went so far as to place the Dinosaur Crossroads billboard between Oracle's Silicon Valley offices.

But Oracle continued to struggle with the competitor. And millions of Ellison, as Oracle's main shareholder, continued to grow. He had several expensive hobbies, including yacht racing. This is Allison at the helm during the 1995 race.

He also sponsors the Oracle USA sailing team, which won the America's Cup in 2010.

Allison even managed to turn a potential loss into a big win. In 1999, Ellison’s protégé, Mark Benioff, left Oracle to work on a new startup, Larry was an early investor who invested $ 2 million in his friend’s new venture.

When Benioff learned that Ellison at Oracle was working on a product that was a direct competitor to Salesforce, he tried to get his mentor to leave the company's board of directors. Instead, Allison forced Benioff to fire him, so he retained his share in Salesforce.

Given that Salesforce is now valued at $ 115 billion, Allison personally makes a profit even when his competitors succeed. This led to a complex relationship between the two leaders, which continues to this day.

In fact, with the exception of Salesforce, the dot-com boom of the late 90s also made a profit for Oracle: all these new dot-com companies needed databases, and Oracle was right there.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, he invited Ellison to join the board. Allison accepted the offer, but after some time felt that he could not continue.

With crowded chests, Allison was able to push Oracle through cost increases when the dot-com boom ended and prices were low. For example, in 2004, Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, a software provider for personnel, for $ 10.3 billion.

And in 2010, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, a server company founded around the same time as Oracle, in 1982. This acquisition gave Oracle many key technologies, including control over the popular MySQL database.

Starting in the 2010s, Allison began to be relegated to the background, transferring more responsibilities to trusted deputies, such as Mark Heard and Safra Katz ...

... but his expenses have not decreased. In 2012, he acquired 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai.

Allison founded a startup called Sensei, which deals with hydroponic agriculture in Lanai, in March 2016.

Ellison also acquired the Hawaiian low-cost airline Island Air in 2014, before selling a controlling stake in the airline two years after it had financial difficulties.

Allison also invested in educational platform manufacturer Leapfrog Enterprises.

However, not all of Ellison’s side projects worked: he was one of the first investors in Theranos, a blood testing startup that closed in 2018 after founder Elizabeth Holmes was accused of fraud.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes

In addition to the island, Allison owns the Astor Beachwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island (pictured below) ...

... home in Malibu, California ...

... and home in Woodside, California. He has another home in Mirage Ranch, California.

Allison also runs the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament.

According to Bloomberg, Ellison’s spending habits are so extreme that his accountant, Philip Simon, asked Larry to “budget and plan” in 2002.

Allison was married and divorced four times. Combined with his tremendous wealth, this gave him a reputation as an international playboy. They say that he is dating Nikita Kan, a model and actress.

Ellison has two children. His daughter Megan is an Oscar-nominated film producer who has worked on the films “Target Number One” (Zero Dark Thirty) and “American Hustle”.

Ellison’s son, David, also works in the movie business making films, including The Terminator and Mission: Impossible.

In 2014, Larry officially resigned as CEO of Oracle, transferring control to Heard and Katz. At this time, he bore the title of the fifth richest man in the world.

In 2016, Allison received a personal bonus: in 1998, he invested $ 125 million in a new business for former Oracle CEO Evan Goldberg, a startup company developing NetSuite business management software ...

... it eventually worked when NetSuite CEO Zack Nelson agreed to sell this company to Oracle for $ 9.3 billion, with Allison receiving $ 3.5 billion for his share. NetSuite investor T. Row Price tried to block the deal, citing Ellison’s conflict of interest, but it closed in November 2016.

Zach Nelson

Oracle is slowly but steadily moving its business to the cloud, giving Larry Ellison the power to compete with Amazon Web Services, a leading player in the cloud computing market.

Larry Ellison at Oracle OpenWorld '16

Larry has other things to do outside of Oracle. He joined the board of directors at Tesla on December 28, 2018, where he was a major investor. Earlier in 2018, Allison called Tesla CEO Elon Musk “a close friend” and defended him from critics.

Tesla founder Elon Musk

Allison is also a famous philanthropist. In May 2016, Allison donated $ 200 million to a cancer treatment center at the University of Southern California.

In 2010, he signed the “Promise of Gift,” first proposed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, and pledged to donate 95% of his fortune before his death.

In addition to these matters, Larry is still actively collaborating with Oracle. He is the chairman and chief technical officer of the company.

Maybe he is not in the first place, but he is still the face of the company, helping to lead it through the unsteady waters of the business ...

Thank you for reading to the end.


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