Lawrence Ellison

Forbes Ranking 6

Billionaire: Lawrence Ellison

Wealth: $28.0 billion

Citizenship: USA

Residence: USA

Source of Wealth: Oracle Corporation

Lawrence Joseph “Larry” Ellison (born August 17, 1944) is an American business magnate,co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, a major enterprise softwarecompany. As of 2010 he is the sixth richest person in the world, with a personal wealth of US$28 billion.[2]

Early life

Larry Ellison was born in New York City to Florence Spellman, a 19-year-old unwed Jewishmother. At his mother’s request, he was given to his mother’s aunt and uncle in Chicago to raise. Lillian Spellman Ellison and Louis Ellison adopted him when he was nine months old. Ellison did not learn the name of his mother or meet her until he was 48; the identity of his father is unknown.

Ellison graduated from Eugene Field Elementary School on Chicago’s north side in January, 1958 and attended Sullivan High School at least through the fall of 1959 before moving to South Shore.

Ellison 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, a Russian Jew from the Crimea who adopted the name Ellison to honor his point of entry into the USA, Ellis Island. Louis, his father, was a modest government employee who had made a small fortune in Chicago real estate, only to lose it during the Great Depression.

Ellison was a bright but inattentive student. He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the end of his second year, after not taking his final exams because his adoptive mother had just died. After spending a summer in Northern California, where he lived with his friend Chuck Weiss, he attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he first encountered computer designing. In 1964, at 20 years of age, he moved to northern California permanently.


During the 1970s, 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.” He founded Oracle in 1977, putting up a mere $1400 of his own money, under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). 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. The release number was intended to imply that all of the bugs had been worked out of an earlier version.

In 1990, Oracle laid off 10{3291cb1bf4fd73bca8d404e832e186cbc6f97ddc4c21a45f51320a1dbbde3932} (about 400 people) of its work force because of a mismatch between cash and revenues. 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 Software 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 2000. Also in 1997, Ellison was made a director ofApple Computer after Steve Jobs came back to the company. Ellison resigned in 2002, saying that he did not have the time to attend necessary formal board meetings.[3]

Once Informix and Sybase were defeated, Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft SQL Server in the late 90s 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, the open source database MySQL, and with Microsoft SQL Server (which only runs on Windows). IBM’s DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market.

In April 2009, Oracle announced its intent to buy Sun Microsystems after a tug of war with IBM and Hewlett-Packard.[4] The European Unionapproved the acquisition by Oracle of Sun Microsystems on January 21, 2010 and has agreed that “Oracle’s acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalize important assets and create new and innovative products”.[5]


In 2005, Oracle paid Ellison a $975,000 salary, a $6,500,000 bonus, and other compensation of $955,100.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] In the year ending May 31, 2009 he made $56.8 million.[9]

For the fourth year in a row, Oracle’s Board awarded Ellison another 7 million stock options on July 2, 2009.[10]

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.[1]

As of March 10, 2010 Ellison was listed on the Forbes list of billionaires as the sixth richest person in the world. He is the third richest American, with an estimated net worth of US $28 billion.[2]

For a short period in 2000, Ellison was the richest man in the world.[11] In 2006, Forbes ranked Ellison as the richest Californian.[2]

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.[12]

Personal life

Ellison has been married four times.[13][14] His first three marriages ended in a divorce. He was married to Adda Quinn from 1967 to 1974. He was married to Nancy Wheeler Jenkins between 1977 and 1978. From 1983 to 1986, he was married to Barbara Boothe: two children were born of this marriage, a son and daughter named David and Megan.

On 18 December 2003, Ellison married Melanie Craft, a romance novelist, at his Woodside estate. His friend Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple, Inc) was the official wedding photographer.[15]


Ellison is the second largest financier of BMW Oracle Racing. Oracle Corporation does not provide any financial support to BMW Oracle Racing but grants permission for use of its logo and branding.

2007 America’s Cup

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 inValencia, Spain until eliminated from the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger selection series in the semi-finals.

2010 America’s Cup

On 14 February 2010, Ellison’s yacht USA 17 won the second race (in the best of three “deed of gift” series) 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.[16]

Previously, Ellison had 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.[17] The races were finally held[clarification needed] in February 2010 in Valencia, Spain.

Private jet

Ellison is a licensed pilot and has owned several unusual aircraft, including fighter jets.[citation needed] Ellison 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 “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…”[18] 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.[19]


Ellison styled his estimated $70 million Woodside, California, estate after feudal Japanese architecture, complete with a man-made 2.3-acre (9,300 m2) lake and an extensive seismic retrofit (37°24′44.34″N 122°14′51.40″W)[20]. In 2004 and 2005, Ellison purchased more than 12 properties in Malibu, California, worth more than $180 million. The $65 million Ellison spent on five contiguous lots on 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.[21] In early 2010 Ellison 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.

Charitable donations

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 were Ellison to pay those fees, it could be construed as an admission of guilt. Ellison’s charitable donations to Stanford University were an issue in that case on the independence of two Stanford professors who evaluated the merits of the case for Oracle.[22]

In response to the September 11th 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.[23]

In 2002, the leadership of the anti-aging research Ellison Medical Foundation stated that it believed Ellison would increase its annual budget from $35 million to $100 million.[citation needed]

The 2004 Forbes list of the charitable donations made by the wealthiest 400 Americans stated that Ellison had donated $151,092,103 in the preceding year, about 1{3291cb1bf4fd73bca8d404e832e186cbc6f97ddc4c21a45f51320a1dbbde3932} of his estimated personal wealth.[citation needed]

In June 2006, Ellison announced that 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.[citation needed]

In August 2010 it was reported that Ellison is one of the 40 billionaires who has signed “The Giving Pledge”; he has announced his intent of giving away at least 95{3291cb1bf4fd73bca8d404e832e186cbc6f97ddc4c21a45f51320a1dbbde3932} of his wealth to charity.[24][25][26]


  1. a b Oracle’s Ellison to be paid salary of $1 in fiscal 2010
  2. a b c d Larry Ellison topic page Accessed April 2010.
  3. Fox, Lynn (2002-09-20). “Larry Ellison Resigns as Apple Director”Apple (Cupertino). Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  4. “Sun proxy details its dating game”The Register. 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  5. Johnson, Bobbie (2010-01-22). “Oracle prepares to complete Sun takeover”The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  6. Definitive Proxy Statement
  7. 2007 CEO Compensation for Lawrence J. EllisonEquilar
  8. 2008 CEO Compensation for Lawrence J. EllisonEquilar
  9. Oracle CEO’s base pay cut to $1 August 22, 2009 page B3 LA Times
  10. Here We Go Again: Oracle’s Ellison Gets More Options
  11. Gates loses title as world’s richest man – CNET
  12. [1]
  13. Symonds, Matthew (2003). Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle. Simon & Schuster. pp. 57, 64, 310, 337, 348-50, 64, 349-53, 65, 84, 341-42, 347, 352-54. ISBN 074322504X.
  14. IMDB bio
  15. Zinko, Carolyne; Kirby, Carrie (2004-01-14). “Larry Ellison’s most important merger”San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
  16. BMW Oracle wins America’s, 2010-02-14; “Ellison and Kostecki were the only Americans on BMW Oracle’s crew for the clincher.”
  18. Sues Over Airport Rule On Noise at Night / He wants right to land his jet anytime, 2000-01-07, accessed 2010-03-11.
  19. clears Ellison for landing at night / Curfew left intact at San Jose airport, 2001-06-16, accessed 2010-03-11.
  21. Ron’s $70 Million Sale
  22. In Re Oracle Corp. Derivative Litigation (824 A.2d 917 (2003))
  23. “The Oracle of National ID Cards”. Wired Magazine.
  24. “The Giving Pledge”. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  25. “Ellison joins billionaire charity pledge”Bloomberg in The San Francisco Chronicle. August 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  26. Banjo, Shelly; Rob Guth (August 4, 2010). “Oracle’s Ellison, 40 Billionaires Pledge Wealth To Charity”Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-08-09.

External links