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- The Ruthless Determination of Larry Ellison
The Ruthless Determination of Larry Ellison
The First 20 Years Building Oracle
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As of this writing, Larry Ellison is the fourth-richest person in the world and the company he founded, Oracle, is valued at more than $300 billion.
By 1996, nearly 20 years after starting the company, he was already worth $6 billion and was the richest man in California.
Today, we’re diving into his story, before and during those first 20 years of building Oracle.
To write today’s deep dive, I read the insightful book The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison by Mike Wilson. For the full story, I highly suggest you check it out.
Let’s get to it.
Larry Ellison was born on August 17, 1944 in Manhattan.
After nearly dying from pneumonia at just nine months old, his unmarried, nineteen-year-old mother, Florence, sent him to live with relatives in a middle-class suburb of Chicago.
Not until he was twelve years old did Larry know he was adopted and this was a powerful motivator for him, thinking he had something to prove.
But Larry’s desire to succeed wouldn’t yield tangible results for many years to come.
Along the way, he’d find other motivators, his unsupportive, adoptive father being one of them:
While in high school, Larry mostly flew under the radar, described by one classmate as, “very quiet, very withdrawn, not at all in the mainstream.”
He also started to display the rebelliousness he’d use later in life, refusing to read many of the books he was supposed to read, instead choosing to read what interested him most:
Classic entrepreneur, right?
After graduating high school in 1962 he attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where his rebelliousness continued:
Larry didn’t stay in college long.
After his sophomore year, when his adoptive mother, Lillian, died of cancer, he left the University of Illinois.
Before leaving school, and after giving up his aspirations to become a doctor, Larry learned to program a computer and utilized that skill to get a job as a programmer at the university.
Not long after, in 1966, he left Illinois for California, a decision that proved incredibly fruitful.
Larry enrolled at Berkeley in the summer of 1966, though he wouldn’t attend long.
After getting married to Adda Quinn in January 1967, Larry worked as a systems programmer for IBM mainframes for a few years at several companies.
It was “monotonous and unchallenging” and, even though he wasn’t making much money, he was spending exorbitantly.
Adda said he had “champagne tastes on a beer budget.”
His spending, among other reasons, caused his wife to leave him in 1974.
It was a turning point in his life:
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