Lawrence Joseph Ellison

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944, in Manhattan, US.

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By  Peter Branton Published  June 14, 2007

Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944, in Manhattan, US. His early upbringing seems to have gone a long way toward developing his competitive streak and urge to prove himself. His mother was not married and her aunt and uncle (a Russian immigrant who took the name Ellison from the Ellis Island immigration station in New York) raised him as a boy. In past interviews, Ellison has said that his great-uncle repeatedly told him he would never amount to much.

A mediocre student, he dropped out of university in the 1960s, winding up in the mid-1970s working on a database project - for the Central Intelligence Agency.

That project culminated in Ellison co-founding a software firm, Software Development Laboratories, in 1977; the firm was later renamed after the database project it had developed for the CIA.

While Oracle found itself in financial trouble in 1990, having to borrow US$170million to keep afloat and laying off 10% of its workforce, in the following years Ellison was to enjoy the height of his fame: US finance magazines billed him opposite Microsoft boss Bill Gates as the "other software billionaire". Ellison has enjoyed a famously competitive rivalry with Gates; his promotion of the network computer concept in the mid-1990s was widely seen as an attack on Microsoft's Windows operating system stronghold.

For a short period in 2000, Ellison supplanted Gates as the richest man in the world, based on share prices in their respective companies. Ellison later claimed he never wanted the title of richest man in the world (which some may find hard to believe); he has also pointed out that such titles are misleading, as neither he or Gates could easily sell their shares in their respective companies without massively lowering the value.

A keen sailor, Ellison has spent an estimated US$200million in attempting to win the America's Cup for the US; his team BMW Oracle Racing lost in the semi-final stage of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the race held to determine the challenger for the America's Cup. He also owns several luxury yachts, including the ‘Rising Sun', the largest privately-owned yacht in the world.

Ellison is also a licensed pilot and has owned a number of aircraft - his attempt to buy a Russian Mig fighter pilot was however blocked by US Customs.

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