Who is Larry Ellison? Biography, net worth, spouse, quotes and more
Larry Ellison (Lawrence Joseph Ellison; born August 17, 1944) is an American business magnate and investor. Larry Ellison is the co-founder, chairman, chief technology officer (CTO) and former chief executive officer (CEO) of the American computer technology company Oracle Corporation.
In October 2022, Larry Ellison’s net worth was estimated at $83 billion by Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Forbes estimates the wealthy businessman to be worth $99 billion on November 4, 2022.
Highlights Larry Ellison:
- Major shareholder Oracle Corporation (35% of all shares)
- In 2014 he left the post of CEO after 37 years
- Oracle has grown to immense size through the acquisition of software companies, including the $28 billion acquisition of Cerner
- Ellison moved to the Hawaiian island of Lanai in 2020, which he acquired 98% of for the price of $300 million
Larry Ellison is 78 years old in 2022.
In this article you will find a biography of Larry and his story as the founder of Oracle Corporation. You will also find more information about his private relationships, his possessions and his love for sports.
Larry Ellison biography
Larry Ellison was born in New York City. His mother was an unmarried Jewish woman and his father was an Italian-American pilot for the United States Army Air Corps. At the age of nine months, little Larry developed severe pneumonia. His mother then gave the child away to her aunt and uncle for adoption. Larry didn’t meet her again until he was 48 years old.
He remembers his adoptive mother as a warm and loving figure, unlike his aloof adoptive father. Louis Ellison was a government official who amassed great wealth through real estate investments in Chicago. During the Great Depression, he lost his small fortune.
Although raised in a religious setting, Larry Ellison remained skeptical of religion. He also refused to celebrate a bar mitzvah at age thirteen for those reasons. He said about it: “While I think I am religious in one sense, the particular dogmas of Judaism are not dogmas I subscribe to.” He states that they are interesting stories and he respects the people who do believe them, but he does not, as there is no evidence for them.
Larry goes on to say that his fondness for Israel was not related to religious matters, but because of the nation’s commercial spirit and innovative spirit.
Larry attended South Shore High School in Chicago. He was later admitted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he was enrolled as a premed student. At the same university, he was named science student of the year. However, he withdrew after the second year, without taking final exams. The reason for this was that his adoptive mother had died.
He spent the summer in California before studying physics and mathematics at the University of Chicago. It was here that he first came into contact with computer design. When he was 22 years old he left for Berkeley, California in 1966.
Early Career and Oracle
While working for Ampex in the early 1970s, Larry was influenced by Edgar Codd’s research into relational database design at IBM. Among other things, he worked on a database for the CIA. This he called Oracle.
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 Ellison being listed by Forbes as a richest person in the world.
In 1979 the company was renamed Relational Software Inc. Larry Ellison wanted Oracle to be compatible with IBM’s System R-databases, but IBM made this impossible by not sharing the code of System R.
In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% of all staff, which amounted to nearly 400 people. Money was running out and cost savings were needed. In retrospect, this crisis would almost have led to the bankruptcy of the company. The crisis was caused by what they say is a “huge business mistake” with sales bonuses.
IBM dominated the relational database market with DB2 and Structured Query Language SQL/DS database protocols. However, the company was delayed in launching relational databases on Unix Windows operating systems. This opened the door wide for companies such as Sybase, Oracle and Microsoft. For that reason they dominated mid-range systems and microcomputers.
From 1990 to 1993, Sybase was the fastest growing company in the database industry. Soon it fell victim to a merger mania. The company merged with Powersoft, resulting in a loss of focus on key database technology. In 1993, it therefore sold the rights to the database software to Microsoft Corporation.
Oracle at the turn of the century
In 1994, the Informix company overtook Sybase as the largest database technology vendor, becoming Oracle’s primary competitor. The intense war that followed between Informix’ CEO and Larry Ellison was front page news in many Silicon Valley newspapers for three years. In 1997, Informix announced far-reaching budget cuts due to a major revenue shortfall. Phil White eventually ended up in prison and the big IBM took over Informix.
Ellison was also appointed CEO of Apple Computers during that period, after Steve Jobs returned to the company. He resigned in 2002 from the computer company that would later grow into one of the largest players in the market.
In 2004, Larry did a so-called “hostile takeover” on PeopleSoft, a company with Aneel Bhusri at the top. A hostile takeover occurs when a person or company bypasses the board of directors of another company and goes directly to shareholders to buy the company from them. The founders then started the company Workday together, which is currently worth about 10 billion dollars.
With the defeat of Informix and Sybase, Oracle faced dominant years. That was the case until the rise of Microsoft SQL Server in the late 1990s.
In 2005, Larry Ellis received a base salary from Oracle of $975,000. On top of that, he received a $6.5 million bonus. In 2007 he earned a total amount of more than 61 million dollars. In 2008, he earned over $84 million.
In 2006, Forbes ranked the now wealthy Ellison as the richest Californian. In 2009, after arguing with IBM and Hewlett-Packard, Oracle announced its intention to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion. Ellis then received another 7 million in stock options.
The founder of Sun Microsystems is Vinod Khosla, worth nearly $5 billion in 2022.
Acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation
In 2010, the European Union approved the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporations, recognizing that Oracle has the potential to revitalize Sun and create new and innovative products.
The acquisition also gave Oracle control of MySQL, an open-source database. In 2010, Ellison also argued with the Hewlett-Packard board over the firing of CEO Mark Hurd. He wrote that the board makes bad staffing decisions, just as bad as the “idiots on the board of Apple” who fired Steve Jobs. On December 6, 2010, Oracle hired Mark Hurd as co-president, alongside Safra Catz.
In September 2012, it was revealed that Ellison was the third richest American citizen, just behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. At the time, he had a net worth of $36.5 billion. In 2018, his net worth was estimated at $54.5 billion.
In 2018, Larry Ellison became part of the board of directors of Tesla, Inc. Earlier that year, he had bought 3 million shares of the company from Elon Musk. Ellison left the Tesla board in August 2022. He currently owns about $15 million in shares in the company.
As of December 2019, Ellison owned 36.2% of the shares of Oracle Corporation and 1.7% of the shares of Tesla. His net worth was estimated at $66.8 billion in 2020. This would make him the seventh richest person on Earth.
Personal life and relationships
Larry Ellison has a turbulent personal life. He has been married and divorced four times.
In 1967, Adda Quin became Larry’s wife. They were married six months earlier before Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories. The couple divorced in 1978. She waived any claims against the company for an amount of $500.
After that, Ellison married his girlfriend Barbara Boothe. They were married from 1983 to 1986. Boothe was a receptionist at Relational Software Inc. They had two children together: David and Megan. They are now film producers at Skydance Media and Annapurna Pictures.
From 2003 to 2010, Larry was married to his wife Melanie Craft, a novelist. They were married at his estate in Woodside. Steve Jobs was also present. He was the official photographer that day. The couple divorced in 2010.
Ellison briefly appeared in the 2010 movie Iron Man 2. He also bought 50% of the shares of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament. He owns many cars, including a McLaren F1.
Other belongings Larry Ellison
Ellison was long part owner of the superyacht Rising Sun, the 12th largest yacht in the world at the time. During the economic downturn, he sold his share of the ship and David Geffen became the owner. The ship is 138 meters long and is said to have cost more than $200 million. Larry then bought a smaller ship, the 88-meter yacht Musashi.
Sports Teams and Sponsorship Deals Oracle
Larry Ellison competes in professional sailing, among other things, through Oracle Team USA. He enjoyed success in racing Maxi yachts and he founded BMW Oracle Racing. He competed for the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2003.
In 2002 a professional kite sailing team was founded by Oracle. During testing, the team was able to fly for 30 minutes.
In 2019 Larry started the international racing series SailGP in partnership with Russell Coutts. The series uses F50 foiling catamarans, the fastest type of boat in the history of regattas.
Oracle Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team
From the 2022 season, Oracle will be the main sponsor of the Formula 1 team Oracle Red Bull Racing. The deal will earn the F1 team a whopping $500 million over 5 years. This makes it one of the most lucrative deals in sports history.
Christian Horner, team principal of Oracle Red Bull Racing Team, said of the deal: Oracle Cloud helped us make decisions on race Sundays that helped Max Verstappen win the 2021 championship.
Pilot and Aviation
Larry Ellison is known to be a licensed pilot who has flown and owned several planes. He was once fined by the city of San Jose for violating the movement restrictions for aircrafts over 34,000 kg.
He owns at least two military jets. An Italian training aircraft SIAI-Marchetti S.211. Also in his possession is a decommissioned Soviet fighter MiG-29. He did not get permission from the US government to import the plane.
Larry owns several large mansions and villas. For example, he has an estate in Woodside, which is estimated to be worth 110 million dollars. He bought more than 12 large Malibu California homes in 2004 and 2005, valued at $180 million at the time.
He also bought the estate of banker Ronald Perelman in Palm Beach. He then made many more purchases, such as the $10 million Beechwood Mansion and the private golf course in Rancho Mirage for nearly $43 million.
The most talked-about purchase is an island in Hawaii. He bought it of the company Castle & Cooke, owned by David H. Murdock, and since then owns 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. In 2020 he moved to the island.
In 2022, Larry Ellison purchased an estate from Jim Clark, the 22-acre estate in Manapalan, Florida, for $173 million. It is the most expensive house in Florida history.
Larry also founded the Larry J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine in a brand new five-story, 80,000-square-foot building that opened in 2021 on USC Campus. This was the result of an earlier donation in 2016 of $200 million to the University of Southern California to fund a cancer research center.
Larry Ellison quotes
- “A corporation’s primary goal is to make money. Government’s primary role is to take a big chunk of that money and give to others.”
- “Because software is all about scale. The larger you are, the more profitable you are. If we sell twice as much as software, it doesn’t cost us twice as much to build that software. So the more customers you have, the more scale you have. The larger you are, the more profitable you are.”
- “Being first is more important to me. I have so much money. Whatever money is, it’s just a method of keeping score now. I mean, I certainly don’t need more money.”
- “Bill Gates wants people to think he is Edison, when he’s really Rockefeller. Referring to Gates as the smartest man in America isn’t right. Wealth isn’t the same thing as intelligence.”
- “Bill Gates is the pope of the personal computer industry. He decides who is going to build.”
- “Building Oracle is like doing math puzzles as a kid.”
- “Everyone thought the acquisition strategy was extremely risky because no one had ever done it successfully. In other words, it was innovative.”
- “Five years from now, I don’t know how I’ll think.”
- “Great achievers are driven, not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure.”
- “I am also involved with all the acquisitions and overall strategy. Now it’s true, I don’t run operations. But I’ve never really run operations. I’ve never had the endurance to run sales. The whole idea of selling to the customer just isn’t my personality. I’m an engineer, tell me why something isn’t working or is and I am curious.”
- “I have had all the disadvantages required for success.”
- “I have run engineering since day one at Oracle, and I still run engineering. I hold meetings every week with the database team, the middle ware team, the applications team. I run engineering and I will do that until the board throws me out of there.”
- “I love sailing. I like it more when I am winning.”
- “I saw that we needed to grow but our top line wasn’t growing, so we had to find other ways to grow the business. We had to reshape our business and acquire share in a non conventional way. But most tech leaders don’t come out of a business background. They really have a parochial point of view. All they know are the go-go years of Silicon Valley. That’s the environment in which they were raised.”
- “I think after a certain amount, I’m going to give almost everything I have to charity. What else can you do with it? You can’t spend it, even if you try. I’ve been trying.”
- “I think I am very goal oriented. I’d like to win the America’s cup. I’d like Oracle to be the No 1 software company in the world. I still think it is possible to beat Microsoft.”
- “I think you might see us growing much deeper into banking. You might see us acquiring companies in the banking area. You might see us acquiring companies in the retail area. I think you might see us acquiring companies in the telecommunications. I think you will see us getting stronger in business intelligence.”
- “I was vehemently against acquisitions. Now let’s buy everything in sight. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. We are a little more strategic than that. But everything was on sale.”
- “If an innovative piece of software comes along, Microsoft copies it and makes it part of Windows. This is not innovation; this is the end of innovation.”
- “If you do everything that everyone else does in business, you’re going to lose. The only way to really be ahead, is to ‘be different’.”
- “If your cash is about to run out, you have to cut your cash flow. CEOs have to make those decisions and live with them however painful they may be. You have to act and act now; and act in the best interest of the company as a whole, even if it means that some people in the company who are your best friends have to work somewhere else.”
- “In order to grow at this pace, there will have to be a couple of acquisitions along the way. The tricky thing is to grow at this rate and maintain a 40 percent operating margin.”
- “In some ways, getting away from the headquarters and having a little time to reflect allows you to find errors in your strategy. You get to rethink things. Often, that helps me correct a mistake that I made or someone else is about to make.”
- “It’s Microsoft versus mankind, with Microsoft having only a slight lead.”
- “Life’s a journey. It’s a journey about discovering limits.”
- “Microsoft is already the most powerful company on earth but you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
- “Our goal is simply to become the desktop for e-businesses.”
- “So what makes me happy? I was really happy to build this house. That’s it; building things. The trouble with software is that it’s very hard to show your aunt in Florida what you’ve done.”
- “The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.”
- “There’s a wonderful saying that’s dead wrong. ‘Why did you climb the mountain? ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there.’ That’s utter nonsense. You climbed the mountain because you were here and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like.”
- “Those that believe this is merely a downturn are mad. Our industry is going to mature and as something matures, the rate of innovation does slow.”
- “To model yourself after Steve Jobs is like, ‘I’d like to paint like Picasso, what should I do? Should I use more red?”
- “We have been doing things that are contrary; the things that people tell us won’t work from the beginning. In fact, the only way to get ahead is to find errors in conventional wisdom.”
- “We will still be enormously profitable and by far the most profitable enterprise software company.”
- “When I do something, it is all about self-discovery. I want to learn and discover my own limits.”
- “When you are the first person whose beliefs are different from what everyone else believes, you are basically saying, ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong.’ That’s a very unpleasant position to be in. It’s at once exhilaration and the same time an invitation to be attacked.”
- “When you live your life in different ways, it makes people around you become uncomfortable. So deal with it. They don’t know what you are going to do.”
- “You have to act and act now.”
- “You have to believe in what you do in order to get what you want.”
- “You realize that life is short and fragile; and when you are facing walls of water, you understand your own mortality can change and how quickly things could change.”
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Published on: 11/08/2022 | Last update: 22/08/2022
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