Larry Ellison

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944. He is an American business magnate and investor who is the co-founder, executive chairman, chief technology (CTO), and the former chief executive officer (VEO) of the American computer technology, Oracle Corporation.

Early life

Larry Ellison was born in New York City to a Jewish mother. His father was an Italian American who worked as a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps. When he was only nine months old, Ellison contracted pneumonia. His mother thus gave him to her aunt and uncle for adoption. He wouldn’t meet his biological mother again until he was 48. Ellison moved to Chicago’s South Shore, which was then a middle-class neighborhood. It’s reported that he remembers his adoptive mother as warm and loving, a stark contrast to his unsupportive and distant adoptive father, who chose the name Ellison to honor his point of entry into the United States, Ellis Island.

Although Ellison was raised in a Reform Jewish home by his adoptive parents, he remained a religious skeptic. When he was thirteen, Ellison refused to have a bar mitzvah celebration.

Ellison stated: “While I think I am religious in one sense; the particular dogmas of Judaism are not dogmas I subscribe to. I don’t believe that they are real. They’re interesting stories. They’re interesting mythology, and I certainly respect people who believe these are literally true, but I don’t. I see no evidence for this stuff.”

Ellison attended the South Shore High School in Chicago and later attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was enrolled as a pre-med student. At the university, he was named science student of the year. He withdrew without taking the final exams after his sophomore year because his adoptive mother passed away. After spending the summer of 1966 in California, he then went on to attend the University of Chicago for one term, where he studied physics and mathematics. This is also where he first encountered computer design. In 1966, when he was 22, he moved to Berkeley, California.


While he was working at Ampex in the early 1970s, he was influenced by Edgar F. Codd’s research on relational database design for IBM. That led in 1977 to the formation of the company which later became Oracle. Oracle became a successful database vendor to mid-and-low-range systems. Later, the company would compete with Sybase (created in 1984) and Microsoft SQL Server. This led to Ellison being listed by Forbes as one of the richest people in the world.

During the 1970s, after a brief stint at Amdahl Corporation, Ellison began working for Ampex Corporation. His projects included a database for the CIA, which he would name “Oracle.” Ellison was inspired by a paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems called “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.” In 1977, he founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) with two partners with an investment of $2,000; $1,200 of the money was his.

In 1979, the company went on to rename itself Relational Software Inc. Ellison heard about the IBM System R data based, also based on Codd’s theories, and wanted Oracle to achieve compatibility with it, but IBM would make this impossible by refusing to share System R’s code. The initial release of the Oracle Database in 1979 was called Oracle version 2; there was no Oracle version 1.

In 1983, the company officially became Oracle Systems Corporation after its flagship product. In 1990, Oracle would lay off 10% of its workforce (approximately 400 people) because it was losing money. This crisis, which almost resulted in the company’s bankruptcy, came about due to Oracle’s “up-front” marketing strategies, which entailed salespeople urging potential customers to buy the largest amount of software all at once.

These salespeople then booked the value of future license sales in the current quarter, thereby increasing their bonuses. This became a problem when future sales subsequently failed to materialize.

Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings two times and had to settle class-action lawsuits for having overstated its earnings. Ellison would later go on to say that Oracle had made an “incredible business mistake.”

Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on Unix and Windows operating systems. This would leave the door open for Sybase, Oracle, Informix, and eventually Microsoft to dominate mid-range systems as well as microcomputers.

Around this time, Oracle had fallen behind Sybase. From 1990 to 1993, Sybase was considered the fastest-growing database company and the database industry’s darling vendor, but soon it fell victim to merger mania. Sybase’s merger with Powersoft resulted in a loss of focus on its core data technology.

In his early years with Oracle, Ellison was named an Award Recipient in the High Technology Category for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Program. The European Union would later go on to approve Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems on January 21, 2010, and agreed that Oracle’s acquisition of Sun “has the potential to revitalize important assets and create new and innovative products.”

The Sun acquisition gave Oracle control over the popular MySQL open-source database, which Sun had acquired in 2008. On August 9, 2010, Ellison denounced Hewlett-Packard’s board for firing CEO Mark Hurd, writing: “the HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.” Then on September 6, Oracle hired Mark Hurd as a co-president alongside Safra Catz. Ellison remained in his current role at Oracle.

As of June 2020, Ellison is said to be the seventh wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $66.8 billion. As of 2022, Ellison owns 42.9 percent of the shares of Oracle Corporation and 1.5 percent of the shares of Tesla.

As of November 2022, he was listed by Bloomberg Billionaires Index as the seventh wealthiest person in the entire world, with an estimated fortune of $91 billion. Ellison is also known for having a 98% ownership stake in Lanai, the sixth-largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Net Worth

$91 billion


In 1997, Ellison received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
In 2013, Ellison was inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame.
In 2019, the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC honored Ellison with the first Rebels With A Cause Award in recognition of his generous support through the years.