Larry Ellison

Each year, the American business magazine, Forbes, publishes several lists of what it believes are the world’s richest people. The Forbes 400 lists the US’ richest people; the 600 most notable young people under the age of 30 (Forbes 30 under 30); America's Wealthiest Celebrities, the world's top companies (the Forbes Global 2000); and until 2018, Forbes list of the World's Most Powerful People.

The list most people refer to, however, is 'The World's Billionaires’, colloquially referred to as ‘The Forbes Rich List’. The 2024 List has been published, and lurking at No.5, as he has for several years, is Larry Ellison.

Platinum delves into the life of a multi-billionaire, whose passion for self-publicity doesn’t quite match his peers...

 

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944, in New York City to Florence Spellman, an unwed Jewish mother. He is an American businessman and entrepreneur who co-founded software company Oracle Corporation. He was Oracle's chief executive officer from 1977 to 2014 and is now its chief technology officer and executive chairman.

As of March 2024, he is the eighth-wealthiest person in the world, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated net worth of US$130 billion, and the fifth-wealthiest in the world according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $141 billion, a mere $54bn behind his pal Elon Musk, who, in turn, currently resides at the No.2 spot.

 

Early years

His biological father was an Italian American US 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 1992.

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.

He 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, where he studied physics and mathematics, and also first encountered computer design. He then moved to Berkeley, California and began his career as a computer programmer for different companies.

 

History of Oracle

Ellison co-founded what became the Oracle Corporation in 1977 with Bob Miner and Ed Oates under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). Ellison had taken inspiration from the 1970 paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database management systems (RDBMS) named “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.”

He heard about the IBM System R database from an article in the IBM Research Journal provided by Oates. Ellison wanted to make Oracle's product compatible with System R, but failed to do so as IBM kept the error codes for their DBMS a secret.

SDL changed its name to Relational Software, Inc (RSI) in 1979, then again to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1983, to align itself more closely with its flagship product Oracle Database. The name also drew from the 1977 CIA project codename, which was also Oracle's first customer. At this stage, Bob Miner served as the company's senior programmer. On March 12th, 1986, the company had its initial public offering.

In 1989, Oracle moved its world headquarters to Redwood City, California. In 1995, Oracle Systems Corporation changed its name to Oracle Corporation officially named Oracle, but is sometimes referred to as Oracle Corporation, the name of the holding company.

On July 15, 2013, Oracle transferred its stock listing from the Nasdaq to the NYSE. At the time, it was the largest-ever U.S. market transfer. In an effort to compete with Amazon Web Services and its products, Oracle announced in 2019 it was partnering with former rival Microsoft.

The alliance called that Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure would be directly connected, allowing customers of each to store data on both cloud computing platforms and run software on either Oracle or Azure.

By 2020, Oracle was the third-largest software company in the world by revenue and market capitalisation. The company sells database software (particularly the Oracle Database) and cloud computing. At the end of the year, it moved its base to Austin, Texas, where is resides today.

Successive Forbes Lists, especially during the 2010s, saw Ellison consistently in the US – and world – top 10. In March 2010, Ellison as the sixth-richest person in the world and as the third-richest American, with an estimated net worth of US$28 billion. In September 2011, he had risen to fifth richest man in the world with a net worth of about $36.5 billion. A year later, he was again 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.

Since those figures were published, the graph’s direction has been one way, with that net worth today now estimated to be $141bn.

 

Lifestyle

Ellison has been married and divorced four times – Adda Quinn from 1967 to 1974; Nancy Wheeler Jenkins from 1977 to 1978; Barbara Boothe from 1983 to 1986, and the latest thus far, Melanie Craft, from 2003 to 2010.

Ellison made a brief cameo appearance in the 2010 movie ‘Iron Man 2’. In 2010, Ellison purchased a 50% share of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in California’s Coachella Valley and the Indian Wells Masters tournament for $100 million, and has subsequently invested another $100 million into the club.

He owns many exotic cars, including an Audi R8 and a McLaren F1. His favourite is said to be the Acura NSX, which he was known to give as gifts each year during its production. It must be nice to have that kind of change lying around.

Ellison sold his share of Rising Sun, the 12th largest yacht in the world, in 2010. This made record producer David Geffen the sole owner. The vessel is 453 feet (138 metres) long, and reportedly cost over $200 million to build. He 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 2013, Ellison's Oracle Team USA defeated Emirates Team New Zealand to win the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco Bay, California. The Oracle team came from trailing 8–1 to win 9–8, in what has been called "one of the greatest comebacks in sports history". Oracle Racing subsequently lost the 2017 America's Cup to Team New Zealand.

 

Political involvement

In 2012, he donated to both Democratic and Republican politicians, and in late 2014 hosted Republican senator Rand Paul at a fundraiser at his home.

In 2020, Ellison allowed former president Donald Trump to have a fundraiser at his Rancho Mirage estate, though Ellison himself was not present.

The Washington Post reported in May 2022 that Ellison participated in a conference call, days after the 2020 presidential election that focused on strategies for – unwisely – challenging the as-yet evidence-free illegitimacy of the vote. Other participants on the call included Fox News host Sean Hannity, Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow and James Bopp, an attorney for True the Vote.

 

Today

Among the myriad projects he is involved with, in March this year, Larry Ellison’s Oracle team and fellow multi-billionaire, Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme, announced they were teaming up to bring AI to farming. The project will create an AI-powered mapping application for governments. The tool creates a map of a country's farms and shows what each of them is growing.

Ellison stated said the tool could help farms assess the steps needed to increase their output, and whether fields had enough water and nitrogen.

"We're doing that again in concert with Elon Musk and SpaceX to do this kind of mapping," he continued. The billionaires go way back. Ellison and Musk are very close friends, according to the Oracle boss. From 2018 to 2022, he was on the board of Musk’s Tesla company, being a significant investor.

Ellison turns 80 this summer, and shows no signs of slowing up. His work ethic won’t allow him to. Indeed, the public face he wears today won’t even allow him to be 80. Perhaps the coveted top five berth in Forbes’ List is enough to keep him going.

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