2016 Commencement Speaker: Lawrence J. Ellison

Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer, Oracle Corporation

Lawrence EllisonLarry Ellison is an American businessman, sports enthusiast, and philanthropist best known as the founder of Oracle Corporation, the enterprise-technology giant he launched in 1977. In 2014, after serving as Oracle’s CEO for 37 years, Mr. Ellison stepped aside as CEO to become Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer.

After originally calling his company Software Development Labs, Mr. Ellison later changed the name to Oracle, which was the codename of a sophisticated project for the company’s very first customer: the Central Intelligence Agency. Oracle has annual revenue of about $38 billion and 425,000 customers in 145 countries, and is ranked #16 on the Interbrand list of the world’s most-valuable brands.

As a sportsman, Mr. Ellison races sailboats, flies planes, plays tennis, and runs one of the world’s largest tennis tournaments. He sails with ORACLE TEAM USA, and successfully brought the America’s Cup back to the United States for the first time in over 15 years, winning the Cup in both 2010 and 2013. In the tennis world, Mr. Ellison recently acquired the BNP Paribas Open, the largest combined ATP World Tour and WTA Tour event in the world.

Mr. Ellison also founded The Lawrence Ellison Foundation, which, among other philanthropic efforts, supports basic biomedical research on aging relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities. In 2014, Mr. Ellison teamed up with animal-welfare advocates to create what the MercuryNews.com called “a one-of-a-kind wildlife refuge, rehabilitation and education center” in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Education has been another of Mr. Ellison’s priorities, including his support of Reach to Teach, which operates in remote rural and tribal villages in India bringing best education practice to schools serving the least-advantaged children; his contributions to Teach for All; and Oracle’s plans to launch the Design Tech High School on the Oracle campus in the Bay Area.   A brief excerpt from the 2013 book The Billionaire and the Mechanic by Julian Guthrie offers a glimpse into Mr. Ellison’s visions to open a unique high school:

“Think of a high school that’s two-thirds Stanford and one-third Naval Academy…. with 80 percent of the kids on full scholarship, … a student orchestra that would make Juilliard proud, and a superb athletic program…. We’d go out and find talented kids, get them taught, coached, mentored, and off to college….  I wanted to build a great high school. I wanted to go to their basketball games and maybe teach a sailing class. That would have been fun. I was quite excited about building the school. I’m still excited about it.”