LAWRENCE J. ELLISON Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Lawrence J. Ellison was born in the Bronx, New York. At nine months, he  contracted pneumonia, and his unmarried 19 year-old mother gave him to  her great aunt and uncle to raise. Lawrence was raised in a two-bedroom  apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Until he was twelve years old  he did not know that he was adopted. His great uncle and adoptive  father had lost his real estate business in the Great Depression and  made a modest living as an auditor for the public housing authority. As  a boy, Larry Ellison showed an independent, rebellious streak and often  clashed with his adoptive father. He showed a strong aptitude for math  and science, and was named science student of the year at the  University of Illinois. During the final exams in his second year,  Ellison’s adoptive mother die, and he dropped out of school. He  enrolled at the University of Chicago the following fall, but dropped  out after the first semester. his father was now convinced he would  never make anything of himself, but Ellison had learned the rudiments  of computer programming in Chicago and took this skill with him to  Berkeley, California, arriving with just enough money for fast food and  a few tanks of gas.


For the next eight years he bounced from job  to job, working as a technician for Fireman’s Fund, Wells Fargo bank  and began working as a programmer with large databases at Ampex. At  Ampex he built a large database for the CIA, code name: Oracle.


n 1977, Ellison and his former supervisor from  Ampex, Robert Miner, founded Software Development Labs. They supported  themselves by consulting for an assortment of corporate clients, when  Ellison read a paper called “A Relational Model of Data for Large  Shared Data Banks” by E. F Codd, describing a concept Codd had  developed at IBM. IBM had seen no commercial potential in the concept  of a Structured Query Language (SQL), but Ellison and his partner did.  They created a database program compatible with both mainframe and  desktop computer systems, renamed their company Oracle, and found their  first customers for the database program, Wright Patterson Air Force  Base and the CIA. In 1980, Oracle had only eight employees, and  revenues were less than $1 million, but the following year, IBM itself  adopted Oracle’s SQL for its mainframe systems and for the next seven  years, Oracle’s sales doubled every year. The million dollar company  was becoming a billion dollar company.


Oracle went public in 1986, raising $31.5  million with its initial public offering, but the firm’s zealous young  staff for the rapidly expanding firm habitually overstated revenues,  and in 1990 the company posted its first losses. Oracle’s market  capitalization fell by 80 percent and the company appeared to be on the  verge of bankruptcy. Ellison bit the bullet and replaced much of the  original senior staff with more experienced managers. For the first  time, he delegated the management side of the business to  professionals, and channeled his own energies into product development.  The newest version of the database program was a solid success and in  only two years the company’s stock had regained much of its previous  value.


Even as Oracle’s fortunes rose again, Ellison  suffered a series of personal mishaps. Long an enthusiast of many  sports and outdoor activities, in rapid succession Ellison suffered  serious injuries while body surfing and mountain biking. Ellison  survived major surgery, and continued to race his 78-foot yacht and  practice aerobatics in his private jet.


Oracle’s fortunes continued to rise  throughout the 1990s. America’s banks, airlines, automobile companies  and retail giants all depend on Oracle’s database programs. Oracle has  benefited hugely from the growth of electronic commerce; its net  profits increased by 76 percent in a single quarter of the year 2000.  As the stocks of other high tech companies fluctuated wildly, Oracle  held its value, and its largest shareholder, founder and CEO Larry  Ellison, had come very close to a long-cherished goal, surpassing  Microsoft’s Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world.