Oracle at the Helm: Larry Ellison’s Lifestyle

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Ardoxso‘s Lifestyle section is back with the juicy story of Larry Ellison’s lifestyle. Larry Ellison is the co-founder, the executive chairman, and chief technology officer of Oracle Corporation. Forbes estimates his wealth to be a whopping $66.8 billion and ranks him as the world’s number 7 wealthiest individual.

How does a two-time college dropout rise so high in the world?

“Deep inside of all of us – all of us – there is a primal desire to do something important with our lives.” – Larry Ellison, 2016 USC commencement



Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born in New York City on August 17th, 1944, to an unwed single mother. His biological father was an Italian American army pilot. His mother gave him for adoption to Lillian and Louis Ellison, her aunt and uncle, when the nine months old Larry came down with pneumonia.

His family encouraged him to become a physician. Ellison attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign only to drop out in the second year when his adopted mother passed away. After spending the summer home, he attended the University of Chicago, but this second try at becoming a doctor education only lasted one semester.

In his speech to the University of Southern California graduates, he explained how the change went through:

“Virtually everyone important in my life; my family, my teachers, my girlfriend; wanted me to be a doctor… Over time, their dreams became my dreams. They convinced me that I should be a doctor… Whatever the underlying reasons, I was unable to make myself into the person that I thought I should be, so I decided to stop trying.”

Ellison has shown us that chasing our dreams, however difficult it would be, pays off.

“I was unable to live up to expectations of others, but this time, I was not disappointed in myself for failing to be the person they thought I should be. Their dreams and my dreams were different. I would never confuse the two of them again… Each of you has a chance to discover who you are rather than who you should be – a chance to live your dreams, not the dreams of others.” – Larry Ellison, 2016 USC commencement


In 1966, the 22-year-old Ellison dared to move to Berkley to find his voice. Moving from job to the job, he picked up some programming skills. One of these jobs was at an electronics company named Ampex, working on a database system for the C.I.A. Ellison was inspired by researches of Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems, and it was not long before he co-founded his own company to make database systems.

“There’s a wonderful saying that’s dead wrong. ‘Why did you climb the mountain? ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there.’ That’s utter nonsense. You climbed the mountain because you were here and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like.” – Larry Ellison

Oracle Corporation that started with $2000, is now worth over a hundred billion dollars with 136,000 employees.

“I suppose you can say to anyone who wants to win so badly, who am I winning for? Am I winning for Oracle shareholders or is this simply a matter of personal vanity? I admit to it, mea culpa. An awful lot of it is personal vanity,” – Larry Ellison, 60 Minutes interview


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Oracle has made some strategic purchases throughout the years. A notable acquisition was in 2010 when Oracle got Sun Microsystems, which gave the company control over the rival MySQL database.

“I was vehemently against acquisitions. Now let’s buy everything in sight. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. We are a little more strategic than that. But everything was on sale.” – Larry Ellison


Larry Ellison’s lifestyle is a constant strive for winning. He has placed large bets over the years that have paid off. Ellison is a significant shareholder of the competitor company Sales force and one of the larger investors (and member of the board of directors) in Tesla.

“I enjoy the competition and the process of learning as we compete. The whole thing is just fascinating. I don’t know what I’ll do when I retire.” – Larry Ellison, 2012 D10 conference. “


Philanthropy is a well-known attribute of Larry Ellison’s lifestyle. In 2016, Ellison donated $200 million to the University of Southern California’s cancer treatment center.

Ellison joined The Giving Pledge in 2016. The philanthropic movement established by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett is a pledge to donate 95% of one’s fortune during the time of life.

“I think after a certain amount, I’m going to give almost everything I have to charity. What else can you do with it? You can’t spend it, even if you try. I’ve been trying.” – Larry Ellison



The sleep pattern is an unknown factor in Larry Ellison’s lifestyle, but According to Business Insider, back when he was running Oracle, he was known to be a night owl. Classic programmer!

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Larry Ellison’s lifestyle includes more free time now that he has stepped down from the Oracle C.E.O. position. He is the C.T.O. and the face of the company.

“I have run engineering since day one at Oracle, and I still run engineering. I hold meetings every week with the database team, the middleware team, the applications team. I run engineering and I will do that until the board throws me out of there.” – Larry Ellison


Competition is a cornerstone of Larry Ellison’s lifestyle. According to the Mashable, one of his favorite mottos is from Genghis Khan:

“It’s not sufficient I succeed. Everyone else must fail.”


Larry Ellison’s lifestyle is packed with cut-throat competition and not being scared to go to war for winning.

“I’m addicted to winning. The more you win, the more you want to win.” – Larry Ellison


Elisson describes his most important personality trait to be questioning the status quo. He said:

“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts, and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.”


Family & Friends

Ellison has married four times and has been divorced since 2010. He has two children, David and Megan. They are both working in the film business.

Wall Street Journal calls Elisson “the nation’s most avid trophy-home buyer.” He owns many homes around the world and also a large island in Hawaii. His primary residence is a Japanese-style palace in Woodside, California. “Ellison hired a Zen priest and a team of researchers who took multiple trips to Japan before construction could start,” Business Insider reports.

“So what makes me happy? I was really happy to build this house. That’s it; building things. The trouble with software is that it’s very hard to show your aunt in Florida what you’ve done.” – Larry Ellison


Elon Musk is a “close friend” of Elisson. They are also partners in Tesla.

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Ellison and Steve Jobs were also buddies for years. They first met as neighbors in Woodside, Mashable reports:

“His peacock had wandered into my property and woke me up…Then Jobs said: I’m gonna tell her [Job’s girlfriend] how much you hate this peacock, so we can get rid of it. You gotta back me up…”

Exercise & Sports

Larry Ellison’s lifestyle is intertwined with nature and many daring sports, mainly sailing. He has been sailing since the 60s and has established Oracle Team U.S.A., a yacht racing syndicate.

“You realize that life is short and fragile; and when you are facing walls of water, you understand your own mortality can change and how quickly things could change.” – Larry Ellison


Larry’s racing team, Oracle Team U.S.A., has won America’s Cup tournament.

“I think I am very goal-oriented. I’d like to win America’s cup. I’d like Oracle to be the No 1 software company in the world.” – Larry Ellison


Ellison bought the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in 2009. He has paid $100 million to make it happen.

Ellison owns a few planes, including a retired fighter jet. According to Business Insider, the billionaire flew his fighter jets under the Golden Gate Bridge in the nightfall. This maneuver can only be done by professional stunt pilots.

“When I do something, it is all about self-discovery. I want to learn and discover my own limits.” – Larry Ellison



Some of Larry Ellison’s favorite books are listed by

  1. The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
  2. A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin
  3. Napoleon by Vincent Cronin
  4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  5. Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  6. The Robber Barons by Matthew Josephson
  7. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove
  8. The Age of Napoleon by Will & Ariel Durant
  9. The Last Lion Box Set by William Manchester
  10. The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
  11. Fate Is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann

It is good to know that Ellison dabbles in writing as well. He is known to write short stories:

“I think I’ll wait until I retire and break those out. I write plays and short stories, and they would be controversial. I’m controversial enough without adding that to the mix.”


Feature Image Source: Wikipedia

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ARDOXSO Weekly Blog currently has 5 members at its editorial board and publishes about 250 articles annually on ARDOXSO blog.

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