Featured Business Leader: Larry Ellison

Featured Business Leader: Larry Ellison


This week’s Featured Business Leader has recently stepped down from the leadership of his company, but he remains as one of the most influential individuals in the business and technology world. Larry Ellison is the founder of Oracle Corporation, a multinational technology company providing hardware and software to companies across the globe.

Born in the Bronx in 1944 to a single mother, Larry Ellison was raised by his great aunt and uncle in Chicago from an early age – eventually being adopted by his extended family members at the age of 12. A rebellious kid with a natural talent for maths and science, he enrolled at the University of Illinois at the completion of high school, and was named Science Student of the Year – however, after a family tragedy in his second year of college he decided to drop out. He re-enrolled at a different college in the months after, but decided that college wasn’t for him – so he packed his bags and moved to Berkeley, California.

After a decade of switching from job to job in a variety of organisations, Larry Ellison picked up a great deal of programming skills – eventually landing him a role as a programmer for the Amdahl Corporation, working on the first IBM-compatible mainframe system. It was while at Amdahl that Larry Ellison and two of his colleagues founded Software Development Labs.

The fledgling company won a lucrative contract to design and build a database-management system for the CIA – a program which they named Oracle. After the success of their program, IBM signed on to use the Oracle program, and the profits for Software Development Labs doubled consistently over the space of seven years. During this period, Ellison renamed the company Oracle Corporation, to honour its main product.

In 1986, Larry Ellison sent the company public – but it was not without problems. Accountancy issues left the company on the brink of collapse, but an overhaul of products and services brought Oracle Corporation back – and by 1992 it was considered to be a world leader in database management.

The success of Oracle Corporation allowed for the company to make several key acquisitions in order to build their brand. Companies including PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems and Sun Microsystems were brought into the organisation by Larry Ellison so that the company could diversify – and by 2014, Oracle Corporation had over 40,000 staff and a market cap over $185 billion.

In September 2014, Larry Ellison officially stepped down as the CEO of Oracle Corporation, having held the position since its creation (as Software Development Labs) in 1977. He remains involved in the company, as Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer.

The success of his company has led Larry Ellison to become one of the wealthiest men in the world – as of early 2015, he is expected to have a net worth of more than $50 billion dollars. Known for living in the lap of luxury, he has reportedly spent millions on luxury homes, vehicles and aircraft. He is also an avid yacht racer, and he helps to fund the BMW Oracle racing yacht team, a team which he then joined as a crew member in 2010. The BMW Oracle team went on to win the prestigious America’s Cup that year, the first time a team from the US had won in 15 years.

What is your opinion on the rise of Larry Ellison, and Oracle? How would you work to bring a company back from the brink of bankruptcy? I’d love to hear your insights.

This article was written by Simone Ball 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: Wikipedia, Biography and Achievement.org.

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