Lawrence Joseph Ellison is one of the most remarkable people in tech. From being an adventurer and adrenaline junkie to a licensed aircraft pilot, the founder and chairman of Oracle – one of the most valued tech brands in the world – is known for his lavish lifestyle. Born in Bronx, New York, Ellison was only nine months old when he came down with pneumonia and his mother sent him to Chicago to live with his uncle and aunt, who adopted him.
Ellison turned out to be a bright student, excelling in math and science. However, his education life was a little unsteady; he enrolled at the University of Illinois, Champaign, where he won science student of the year. However, he dropped out of college and enrolled at the University of Chicago, but dropped out of there, too. He then headed to California and switched from job to job, and along the way, picked up basic computer skills, which he finally used at Amdahl as a programmer.
Ellison was inspired by a paper on relational database systems and while working for Ampex Corporation, his projects consisted a database for the CIA, which he named Oracle. He founded Software Development Labs with Robert Miner and Ed Oates and then, renamed the firm Relational Software. They soon rebranded as Oracle Systems Corporation and then turned to Oracle Corporation. Oracle flourished quickly and in 1986, the company had its IPO, with revenue of $55 million.
A trait that makes Ellison such an accomplished leader is that the billionaire never chased money – all that mattered to him was to work with interesting people. Oracle started out with four employees and its goal was to get to 50 employees, and not so much as to make a lot of money. The company worked for a lot of different tech companies in Silicon Valley and before Ellison knew it, Oracle had built a product.
Besides this, the technology mogul has always given importance to standing out. “If you do everything everyone else does in business, you’re going to lose,” he says, “The only way to get ahead is to be different.”
Above all of his vast realm, Ellison has given back to society, too. He has donated up to 1% of his wealth to charity and has signed The Giving Pledge. He has also donated $200 million to establish a cancer research center called the Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC.
From a young boy who seemed unfocused to flying high into becoming a world-class leader, Ellison is always set out to discover his limits and is looking to do more, with a great deal of passion within.