Larry Ellison: The Man Who Changed the Face of IT As We Know It Today

Larry EllisonLawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944. He is an American entrepreneur, businessman, and also a corporate philanthropist who has successfully co-founded the well-known Oracle corporation. Currently he is its executive chairman as well as chief technology officer. As of June, of this year, he had been listed by Forbes magazine as being a member of the elite ‘5 wealthiest people in the United States club’ and currently he is the tenth wealthiest person in the whole world, with a personal fortune in excess of $54.5 billion.

Larry’s Early Life

However, this self-made man did not have such a massive fortune handed to him on the proverbial silver platter. On the contrary, he had to work long andhard and use every iota of his considerable skill and acumen to become the man he is today.  That his achievements are considerable goes without saying, however what is truly fascinating is the fact that he did not have a really ‘normal’ childhood, in any sense of the term.  He was born to a single mother, who packed him off to his uncle’s when he was very little and ill. Nine months to be precise. It was his adoptive parents who bought him up and made him self-sufficient enough to go to college. However, his adoptive mother died when he was in college and he was too distraught to continue his education. He tried again but could not even survive even a single semester. This is the time when he decided to take matters into his own hands.

At the age of 22 he headed off to the (then) emerging) SiliconValley way back in 1966. Muscling his way into the nascent IT sector in ‘of all things’ a flashy blue Thunderbird, that he was sure would get him noticed by the movers and shakers of the IT world in Silicon Valley. He bounced around from job to job till such time as he was able to find one that really captivated his interest. As a matter of fact, it was while working at Ampex way back in the early 1970s or so, that he became profoundly influenced by a certain Edgar F. Codd and his ground breaking research with regard to the concept of the ‘relational database’ design.  Indeed, it was this very concept that basically led to Larry branching off into a whole new world entrepreneurship, by creating a business entity that went on to become the globe saddling colossus ‘Oracle”.

The Rise of Oracle

However, when it had originally been created, few people believed that Oracle could ever be a resounding success. But the naysayers only served to strengthen Larry’s resolve and he went on to become a highly successful database vendor for several popular mid and low range systems. Eventually he became a direct competitor of the more well-known giants of that era, such as Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server.

The very first version of the Oracle database was known not as version 1 but rather version 2. In 1979, the original company went on to rename itself and became known as Relational Software Inc. However, so high was the popularity of its flagship product that it became a sort of generic term and in 1982, the organization formally became ‘Oracle Systems Corp’ A name that it is uses to this day.

Under Larry’s able tutelage Oracle went on to become one of the key drivers of the rapidly growing computer and IT industry. However, additional growth required more funds since Oracle had hit a glass ceiling in this direction. This is why Larry made the decision to become a public limited company and its initial public offering, reported a massive capital surge of $55 million approx.

 

Larry: The consummate yachtsman

Larry EllisonLarry has always been a really passionate yachtsman and he even founded ‘BMW Oracle Racing’ in order to compete for the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup. In fact, Oracle yachts have been the mainstay of many an important yachting and racing competition all over North America, and even beyond.

Aviation and military aircraft

Apart from the lure of the sea, Larry is also very fond of aviation and especially fast planes. He currently owns a SIAI-Marchetti S.211 as well as an unarmed MIG 29 fighter jet, both of which he can fly with equal ease.

Larry Ellison: The philanthropist extraordinaire

While his erstwhile opponents see him only as a trash talking competitor, but there is an entirely different aspect of his personality as well. One that makes him stand out and really shine as one of the brightest stars of the IT and business constellation. And that his is corporate philanthropy.

After going through the agony of having his elbow shattered in an accident, Larry Ellison donated $5 million as seed money for the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Center.

Later on, in 1998, he also financed the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center that was opened at the Sacramento campus of the UC Davis Medical Center.

Forbes magazine’s 2004 list of charitable donations that had been made by some of the wealthiest people in America stated that Larry had donated $151,092,103 for charitable causes and at that point in time, it came to about 1% of his total estimated personal wealth, per se.

In August 2010, Larry had signed “The Giving Pledge”.  In fact, Ellison wrote: “Many years ago, I put virtually all of my assets into a trust with the intent of giving away at least 95 percent of my wealth to charitable causes. I have already given hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research and education, and I will give billions more over time. Until now, I have done this giving quietly because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter.”

In the light of the above, we can easily state that Larry Ellison is a man of all seasons. From being a philanthropist to a tough businessman to a passionate sea and air travel lover.

by Bobby J Davidson

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