This is an inspiring story of a person, who against all odds, established world’s largest database development company, Oracle. Yes, we are talking about Lawrence Joseph Ellison, popularly known as Larry Ellison, Co-Founder, and Chairman of Oracle Corporation.
Born to an unmarried Jewish teenager and an Italian American US Army Air Corps, Larry was given away by his mother for adoption to her aunt and uncle, after he contracted pneumonia at the mere age of just 9 months. Larry’s adoptive mother was warm and loving but his adoptive father, Louis Ellison was strict, severe, unsupportive and distant. He once said to Larry that “he is good for nothing”. His father would not have imagined in the farthest of his dreams at that time that this boy would create one of the world’s leading technology company. Hardships didn’t end up here for poor little boy Larry.
Childhood & College
Larry Ellison’s upbringing was in the middle-class family, residing on the south side of Chicago. Academically Ellison was a mediocre student, and not convinced with traditional education approach. He dropped out of university twice. For the first time, Larry left the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign in his second year when his adoptive mother died. After that, for one term he attended the University of Chicago and took a drop from there too. Even though he was a college drop-out, his stint in college was not at all a failure. It was from college, Larry was introduced to the world of programming.
Larry went through programming books extensively and learned from it by himself. Bouncing across multiple programming jobs in few years, he ended up working for Amdahl Corporation. After a brief time at Amdahl, he joined Ampex Corporation at the age of 33. Here, his project was to work in developing the database for CIA, which was code-named “Oracle”. CIA was going to be Larry’s first client in his start-up too.
In 1977, along with his business partner Rober Miner, Larry started his own company named Software Development Labs (SDL) after getting inspired by an IBM research paper with $2000 as capital ($1200 was invested by Ellison).
In 1979, SDL was renamed as Relational Software Inc. which was then renamed to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982 after its flagship product, Oracle. Oracle 2 was first official release from Oracle; there was no Oracle 1. No one imagined that the company started by Larry Ellison would change the world of database programming.
In 1986, Oracle went public with Ellison owning 39% of company’s stake. A millionaire now, he also developed an appetite for fast cars, big mansions, and yachts.
In the following two years, with Larry’s efforts, Oracle took a U-turn and grown into a giant corporation. With its release of Oracle 7 in 1992, Oracle became the leader in database management software. The success of company didn’t end here.
Oracle had to lay off 10% in 1999 due to its “up-front” marketing strategy. Sales persons would amplify their bonuses by booking value of future licenses in running quarter. When future sales failed to materialize this was becoming a major problem for the company. Oracle was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy but just like the Phoenix bird it rose again from ashes, thanks to the efforts and strategies of Larry Ellison.
In 2004, Oracle acquired Peoplesoft for $10 billion dollars In 2006, Siebel systems became part of Oracle Corporation In 2007, Oracle Corporation took over Hyperion Solution In 2010, European Union approved an acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle.
In 2014, Larry Ellison was listed by Forbes magazine as the third-wealthiest man in America and as the fifth-wealthiest person in the world, with a fortune of US$56.2 billion.
Charities and Philanthropy
- Ellison donated $5 million to seed the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Center in 1992
- In 1998, the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center opened on the Sacramento campus of the UC Davis Medical Center
- Ellison had donated $151,092,103, about 1% of his estimated personal wealth for charities
- In 2007, Ellison pledged $500,000 to fortify a community center in Sderot, Israel, after discovering that the building was not fortified against rocket attacks
- A $10 million donation to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces,
- In August 2010, it was reported that Ellison is one of the 40 billionaires who have signed “The Giving Pledge”
- Ellison Medical Foundation was founded in 1997 supported research in the discipline areas: biomedical research on aging, age-related diseases, and disabilities. As of 2007, the Foundation owned 1.3 million shares of Oracle Corporation.
Few Quotes by Larry Ellison
“I have had all of the disadvantages required for success.”
“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts.”
“Life’s a journey. It’s a journey about discovering limits.”
“You have to believe in what you do in order to get what you want.”
“To model yourself after Steve Jobs is like, ‘I’d like to paint like Picasso, what should I do? Should I use more red?”
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