AIB Featured Business Oracle
Headquartered in Redwood City, California, global computer software giant Oracle has an impressive business history. With a slogan of “unleashing innovation by simplifying IT”, Oracle boasts more than 420,000 customers worldwide. Its products are used across a wide variety of industries in more than 145 countries around the world, leaving no surprise that its revenue for 2015 currently sits at US$38.2 billion. While founded by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates in 1977, Oracle is now led by co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, who took on the role in September 2014.
Oracle specialises in developing and marketing computer hardware systems and enterprise software products. Its flagship product is its own brand of database management systems – ‘Oracle Database’. In addition to database management, it offers a comprehensive and integrated stack of cloud applications and engineered systems for businesses. Oracle develops and builds tools for database development software, enterprise resource planning software, customer relationship management software and supply chain management software.
Originally founded under the name of Software Development Laboratories (SDL), the idea for Oracle began when Larry Ellison saw an opportunity that other companies missed – “a description of a working prototype for a relational database”. It was the first company who committed to commercialising the technology, with Ellison, Miner and Oates realising the huge business potential of the model. In 1978 Oracle Version 1 was written, however it was never released. Oracle Version 2, the first commercially released product for SDL, followed this in 1979. Upon this release, SDL changed its name to Relational Software Inc (RSI) and then again in 1982 to Oracle Systems Corporation to align itself more closely with its flagship product. Larry Ellison acted as Oracle’s CEO from founding, leading the company to expand more than he ever imagined.
In April 1984, Oracle received additional funding from Sequoia Capital. This boost allowed the organisation to go public in 1986 with revenue of $55 million. Continuing to innovate and grow, Oracle’s Applications division was founded in 1987 and before 1990, revenues grew to $584 million. This wasn’t without some challenges along the way however – in the third quarter of 1990 Oracle reported its first ever loss and was forced to lay off hundreds of employees. From there, a series of calculated acquisitions took place, and in 2001 Ellison announced that Oracle saved $1 billion by implementing and using its own business applications. Throughout the early 2000’s, Oracle continued to acquire a number of high profile organisations including PeopleSoft, Global Logistics Technologies Inc., Siebel Systems, and Sun Microsystems.
Today, Oracle is the second largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft. While Safra Catz and Mark Hurd are co-CEOs, Ellison remains executive chairman and CTO of the organisation. Commenting on his success, Ellison stated “Great achievers are driven, not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure”. He certainly must have been afraid of failure, as today Oracle has more than 25,000 partners worldwide and more than 130,000 employees.
What do you think?
Oracle is yet another example of an ordinary person seeing a gap in the market and seizing the opportunity. I am interested to hear what you think of its journey though – has it inspired you to revisit your business ideas? Comment your views below and join the conversation.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Oracle; Wikipedia; Addicted2Success; Oracle History.
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