Who is Larry Ellison? : His Early life, Net Worth, Businesses and Biography

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try lots of different things. And don’t let the experts discourage you when you challenge the status quo.”

                                             -Larry Ellison


The above words were spoken by Larry Wilson to the 2016 graduating class of the University of Southern California were probably the same words that kept him going all through his years. Ellison’s ‘college-drop-out’ tag is probably one that may hold on to him for a long while, but one thing for sure was that he wasn’t afraid to experiment and take risks even at the expense of college.

 Co-founder, executive chairman, and CTO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, is a business mogul, entrepreneur, art collector, and philanthropist. He is ranked No.6 on the Forbes 2020 World's Billionaires list, with a net worth of $66.7B as of May 27, 2020.

Early life & education

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1994. He was given up in adoption by his unwed Jewish mother to her aunt who Ellison would later describe as ‘warm and loving’. Unlike his adoptive mother, His adopted father, Louis Ellison—a government employee was unsupportive and distant.

Ellison first attended the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign but withdrew after his second year at the loss of his adoptive mother. He stayed in California for a while, by 1966 he applied at the University of Chicago, where he came in contact with his first computer design. After his first semester at the university, he dropped out to go pursue his computer dreams at the age of 22. Making him a two-time college drop-out.

He spent the next ten years of his early life (1966-1977), working as a computer programmer. He had acquired the skill first in 1966 and spent the next years developing it and making a few bucks out of it.


Career History

After dropping out of college in 1966, Ellison shuffled between a couple of jobs that included Fireman’s Fund, Wells Fargo & Company, and Amadhl Corporation. Using the computer skills, he had picked up from working at the first two companies, he worked on the first IBM-compatible mainframe system at Amdahl. In 1977, Ellison, together with two of his colleagues at Amdahl, Ed Oates, and Robert Miner founded the Software Development Laboratories, which would later become ‘Oracle’. They made an initial investment of $2,000 into the startup, and $1,200 of the investment amount came from Ellison.

Ellison was fascinated by Edgar F. Codd’s study on relational database, with this he began running his own researches on it and was later hired by the CIA to develop a relational database management system in 1978. He code-named the project Oracle version 2 which was based on a new type of database language Ellison had come about in the research paper.

By 1979, Software Development Laboratories was renamed Relational Software Inc., and by 1982, it was officially named Oracle Systems Corporation with the Oracle Database as its main product. The company successfully grew as a database vendor to mid-and-low-range systems. Its competitors were Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase. In the early 1980s, Software Development Laboratories’ revenue was at most $1 million. After IBM signed on to the company sales doubled incredibly for the next seven years.

By 1988 it began suffering from quality control issues which later led to finance problems causing the company to operate losses. This came about by Oracle’s “up-front” marketing strategy which didn’t go as expected. The idea was to get leads to purchase a one-time buy-off of the company’s software in large amounts. The sales department had gone ahead to book the value of future license sales in the present quarter which in turn increased their bonuses. Things took a different turn when future sales were no longer feasible. The implication of this bounce-back caused Oracle to twice reiterate its earnings and settle class-action lawsuits which came as a result of its an overstating of its earnings.   There was a steady decline in its share prices and almost hit bankruptcy a few years later. By 1990, the company laid off about 400 of its employees due to the financial downturn and brought new management changes.

It wasn’t until 1994 that these issues began to fade away with the involvement of new management who worked with Ellison to ensure that the financial and organizational downturns were reversed. Oracle had once again begun to dominate the relational database market. In 1997, Ellison was made a director in Apple Computer at the return of Steve Jobs. He eventually resigned from the position after he had finally defeated his two greatest rivals Informix and Sybase. Later in 2003, IBM’s DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server became Oracle’s biggest competition for database licenses on Linux, UNIX, and Windows operating systems.

From 1994 to 2010, Oracle had successful yearly returns enough to pay Ellison a $1 million base salary, asides other compensations and bonuses that came in from the company’s annual sales. By the end of 2009 Ellison’s bonuses, compensations, and basic salary amounted to a whopping $56.8 million making him the richest Californian as ranked by Forbes.

 By 2014, Ellison officially dropped as the CEO of the Oracle, but still serves as the executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer (CTO)—appointing Mark Hurd as the new Oracle CEO.

As of 2018, Oracle’s market value was worth $170 billion. In March 2018, Ellison founded ‘Sensei’ a health and wellness startup focused on vacation retreats and hydroponic farming. He officially became part of the Tesla board on the 28th of December 2018. Oracle Corporation has since grown into a successful tech company with a workforce of at least 130,000, and an annual gross profit of an estimated $30 billion.

Subsidiary Companies

Sun Microsystems - Purchased January 21, 2010

NetSuite – Purchased November 2016


Other Interests

Fascinated by exquisite arts and locations, Ellison has made many purchases which are commonly known as his “trophy properties.” He has converted multiple of his homes into mini art museums to store all his art collections.  For instance, three of his homes houses his 19th-century art collections, French impression art collections, and Japanese art collections which are stored in his house built on the Nanzen-ji temple grounds in Japan. His primary residence at Woodside California was structured after a 16th-century Japanese emperor’s palace.

The multibillionaire has also purchased 98% of the Island of Lanai at $300 million which he bought from Castle & Cooke, David Murdock’s company. The Island had captivated him after he flew over it a couple of decades back. His properties on the Island include the water company, a good number of the buildings (houses and apartments), resorts, and a movie theater. His overall goal is to transform the island into a one-stop eco-friendly vacation destination, and a sustainability plan of making the Island become the first economical feasible 100% green community. He has also acquired properties in Malibu and Porcupine Creek.


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