The Journey of Larry Ellison

  • lauren DeAlmeida
  • July 12, 2021
  • 0
Larry Ellison

Image Courtesy of Toru Yamanaka / AFP/Getty Images

Larry Ellison is the billionaire founder of Oracle Corp. He built one of the biggest companies in the technology industry. However, his influence has not stopped there. He is also, indirectly, a major influence in Hollywood.

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on the 7th of August, 1944. He is a successful American businessman. He is the co-founder, executive chairman, and chief technology officer (CTO) of Oracle Corporation. The massive investor and business magnate were recently listed as the 9th wealthiest person in the United States. Furthermore, he is the 10th wealthiest person globally, with $93.9 billion as of April 2021. Moreover, he is the owner of the 41st largest island in the United Stated – Lanai in the Hawaiian Islands. As a fun fact, Lanai only has around 3000 people living in it.

Larry’s family background

Larry Lawrence Ellison was born in New York City. When Larry grew up, he moved to Chicago’s South Shore. There was a middle-class neighborhood there, and he lived in it. His adoptive parents raised him. In terms of religious views, Larry Ellison said: “While I think I am religious in one sense, the particular dogmas of Judaism are not dogmas I subscribe to. I do not believe that they are real. They are interesting stories. They are interesting mythology, and I certainly respect people who believe these are literally true, but I do not. I see no evidence for this stuff.”

Larry’s educational background

Larry Ellison attended South Shore High School in Chicago. Later on, he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Larry Ellison was enrolled as a premed student.

Furthermore, he was known to be a brilliant science student. In fact, he achieved the ‘science student of the year’ title in University. However, he later withdrew from the University of Illinois without sitting for his final year after his sophomore year. This was because his adoptive mother had passed away. During summer 1966, he was in California. Larry decided to join the University of Chicago for a semester. He studied mathematics and physics. However, he did not take any exams. Larry encountered computer design at the University of Chicago. When he was 22, in 1966, he moved to Berkeley, California.

Early career

Larry worked at Ampex Corporation in the 1970s after a brief time at Amdahl Corporation. At this time, Larry was influenced by Edgar F. Codd’s paper written research on relational database design for IBM. Edgar’s paper was called ‘A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks. He worked on a project that included a database for the CIA. He named it ‘Oracle.’ Oracle was formed in 1977. In 1997, Larry Ellison received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.

The formation of Oracle

In 1979, the company renamed itself Relational Software Inc. Larry Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) with two partners and an investment of $2,000; $1,200 of the money was his. Oracle became a successful database vendor. The initial release of Oracle in 1979 was called Oracle 2; there was no Oracle 1.

Moreover, in 1983 the company officially became Oracle Systems Corporation. Its first product was the Oracle Database. At this time, Larry  Ellison had heard about the IBM System R database. This was based on Codd’s theories. Therefore, Larry wanted Oracle to achieve compatibility with it. However, IBM made this impossible by refusing to share System R’s code. As a result, Oracle Inc. began competing with Sybase in 1984. In 1987 Oracle became the largest database-management company in the world.

In 1989, it began posing a threat to Microsoft SQL Server. Larry Ellison was listed as one of the richest people in the world in 1990.

In 1990 an internal audit conducted in the wake of a shareholder’s lawsuit revealed that Oracle had overstated its earnings, and its stock plunged dramatically.

In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% of its workforce (about 400 people) because it lost money. In fact, the crisis was so bad that it almost resulted in the company’s bankruptcy. Oracle came up with the “up-front” marketing strategy at this point. The strategy required salespeople to urge 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.

Therefore, Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings twice. They had to settle class-action lawsuits arising from its having overstated its earnings. Larry Ellison would later say that Oracle had made “an incredible business mistake.” At that time, IBM dominated the business sector. However, IBM focused on DB2 and SQL/DS database products. It delayed entering the market for a relational database on Unix and Windows operating systems. Therefore, the door was open for Oracle, Informix, and Sybase to take the opportunity. Around this time, Oracle fell behind Sybase.

Oracle in the 1990s

From 1990 to 1993, Sybase was the fastest-growing database company and the database industry’s darling vendor. However,  it soon fell victim to merger mania. Sybase’s 1996 merger with Powersoft resulted in a loss of focus on its core database technology.

By the end of 1992, the company had returned to financial health. In 1992 Ellison shattered his elbow in a high-speed bicycle crash. After receiving treatment at the University of California, Davis, Ellison donated $5 million to seed the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Center.

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.”

Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft SQL Server in the late 1990s.

In his early years at Oracle, Larry Ellison was named an Award Recipient in the High Technology Category for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Program.

Rivalry between competitors

In 1994, Informix 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. Furthermore, in April 1997, Informix announced a major revenue shortfall and earnings restatements. Phil White eventually landed in jail.

Moreover, in 1997, Ellison was made a director of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs returned to the company. Finally, in 1998, the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center opened on the Sacramento campus of the UC Davis Medical Center. Larry laid the foundation for the center.

IBM absorbed Informix in 2001.

Oracle in the 2000s

In2001, IBM’s acquisition of Informix Software complemented their DB2 database. Larry Ellison resigned in 2002.

In 2005, Oracle Corporation paid Ellison a $975,000 salary, a $6,500,000 bonus, and other compensation of $955,100. 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.

Later in 2008, he earned a total compensation of $84,598,700. This included a base salary of $1,000,000, a cash bonus of $10,779,000, no stock grants, and options granted of $71,372,700. In the year ending May 31, 2009, he made $56.8 million.

In 2006, Forbes ranked him as the richest Californian. Furthermore, in April 2009, after a tug-of-war with IBM and Hewlett-Packard, Oracle announced its intent to buy Sun Microsystems. On July 2, 2009, Oracle’s board awarded Ellison another 7 million stock options for the fourth year in a row. 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.

In 2012 Ellison bought 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. It was estimated that his personal fortune was worth about $40 billion, making him the sixth richest person in the world and the third richest American (after Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett).

As of 2013, Oracle’s main competition for new database licenses on UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems comes from IBM’s DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server. IBM’s DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market.

In September 2014, Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle, though he remained involved with the company, serving as executive chairman and chief technology officer.

Larry Ellison in Hollywood

In July 2014, Larry Ellison, who owns most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, launched a film festival to take place there. The first Lanai Documentary Film Festival is set for 2016 and purports to focus on social issues, including education in developing countries and women’s rights.

Furthermore, Larry Ellison is not camera-shy. He played himself in an “Iron Man 2” cameo, as did fellow tech power player Elon Musk. It was a fitting involvement, given both executives’ larger-than-life images that mirror Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark.

Read more on: The Journey of Steve Ballmer


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