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Larry Ellison
Early life

Ellison was born on August 17, 1944 in New York City to Florence Spellman, a 19-year-old unwed mother who later placed her nine-month old son for adoption to her distant relatives. Lillian and Louis Ellison took him into their home, a two-bedroom apartment located in a modest lower middle class Jewish neighborhood in South Chicago. Ellison recalled to an interviewer that he had a warm and loving mother opposite to an austere and unsupportive father. At South Shore High School, he was a bright but inattentive student. At 15, he began a long-term relationship that lasted for five years and ended sorely – depending on whom is asked, he unsuccessfully proposed marriage either once or twice. He lasted until the end of his sophomore year at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but dropped out following Lillian's death. After a summer in Northern California, he returned home to study at the University of Chicago but left after one quarter. Ending his attempts to finish college, he set out for California.


During the 1970s, Ellison worked for the 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 named A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks. He founded Oracle in 1977, putting up $2000 of his own money, under the name Software Development Laboratories (or SDL). In 1979 the company was renamed Relational Software Inc., later to be 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 stopped this by keeping the error codes for their DBMS secret. The initial release of Oracle was Oracle 2, even though 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.

Larry Ellison

In 1990, Oracle laid off 10 percent of the work force because of the mismatch between cash and revenues. The crisis which almost caused Oracle's bankruptcy came about because of the tactics used by Oracle's sales force. The salespeople subscribed to an "up-front" sales strategy, in which they tried to incent customers to buy the biggest amounts of software all at once. However, the customers were delivered software that didn't work and promised "vapor ware" that didn't exist. Oracle had to restate earnings twice due to these tactics and the company would later settle class-action lawsuits that had been filed because of its flawed financial statements. Larry Ellison would later say his company made "an incredible business mistake."

It was at this time that Oracle fell behind technically to Sybase. From 1990-1993, Sybase was the fastest growing database company and the database industry's darling vendor. However, Sybase soon fell victim to its merger-mania. Sybase's 1993 merger with PowerSoft defocused it from its core database technology.

In 1994, Informix Software overtook Sybase and became the number one challenger to Oracle. The intense war between Informix CEO Phil White and Larry Ellison was front page Silicon Valley news for three years. Ultimately, Oracle would defeat Informix in 1997. In the same year he was appointed to the board of directors in Apple Computer after Steve Jobs came back to the company. He resigned in 2002 saying that he does not have the time to attend necessary formal board meetings. In November of 2005, a book detailing the war between Oracle and Informix was published. The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White provides a detailed chronology of the battle of Informix against Oracle and how Informix CEO Phil White ended up in jail because of his obsession to overthrow Ellison.

Once Informix and Sybase were defeated, Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft's SQL Server in the late 90s and IBM's acquisition of Informix Software in 2000 to complement their DB2 database.

Ellison is reported to be one of the richest people in America by Forbes. In 2005, Forbes reported that Ellison has a net worth of around $18.4 billion, making him the ninth richest man in the world. For a short period in 2000, Ellison was the richest man in the world.(In interviews, Ellison notes that his actual wealth – money that he could actually spend – is more like two billion dollars, in that if he tried to sell all his Oracle stock to realize his "net worth" the price of Oracle stock would fall to zero.) The book titled The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation has been published on him.

At his Woodside estate, Ellison married Melanie Craft, a romance novelist, on 18 December 2003. At the wedding, his friend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, was the official photographer. Craft is Ellison's fourth wife. He has a son and a daughter by a previous wife.

Larry Ellison

Ellison is also the leader and principal financier of Oracle BMW Racing, who competed to be challenger for the America's Cup in 2003 on behalf of the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. Now named BMW Oracle Racing due to increased financial support from BMW, they are the official Challenger of Record for the 2007 America's Cup in Valencia, Spain.

Ellison won the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in his boat "Sayonara". The storm that hit the race cost six other sailors their lives. This experience has caused Ellison to swear off ocean racing.

Ellison also has the fourth largest yacht (as of 2004) in the world named "Rising Sun" which reportedly cost over US$200 million to construct. The Rising Sun is 452.75ft (138 m) long. (For comparison, the largest yacht is the Prince Abdul Aziz owned by the Saudi royal family, measuring 147.1m in length.)

Ellison has had several run-ins with San Jose Mineta International Airport concerning the noise from his private jet. The city of San Jose has a limitation on late night takeoffs and landings on planes weighing more than 75,000 pounds (34 tonnes), and Ellison has received several citations. In 2001, he was granted a personal waiver on the law. In 2002, Ellison was seen on numerous occasions flying his smallest aircraft "The Spruce Goose" over East Palo Alto.

Ellison styled his $200 million Woodside, California estate after feudal Japanese architecture complete with a man-made lake and the most extensive seismic retrofit available with current technology. In 2004 and 2005, Ellison purchased more than 12 properties in Malibu, CA worth more than $180 million. The $65 million Ellison spent on the five contiguous lots on Malibu's Carbon Beach was the largest single residential acquisition in United States history until Ron Perelman sold his Palm Beach, Florida, compound for $70 million later that same year, according to industry writer Jeffrey Bellamar.

Ellison has also attempted to purchase a professional sports franchise. He has offered to buy the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco 49ers, only to be rebuffed both times. He is now pursuing ownership of a potential new future football franchise in Los Angeles, a market that the NFL looks to expanding into. (it is rumored that the team would be called the L.A. Oracle's)

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