Oracle's founder and longtime CEO is infamous for his lavish lifestyle and business acumen. Here are 30 surprising facts you may not know about Larry Ellison:

  1. Ellison is currently the 5th richest person on the planet, with a net worth of $54.3 billion (at time of writing).
  2. Born to an unwed mother in New York City, he contracted pneumonia at just nine months of age and was given to his great-aunt and uncle for adoption. He wouldn't see his biological mother again for almost five decades.
  3. Unlike Bill Gates, Larry Ellison was not exposed to computers in his childhood and didn't have that inherent advantage early in life. He was first introduced to computer design during his second attempt at university.
  4. Ellison studied at both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago, but dropped out of school for good to move to California in 1966. He'd spent a summer there between his two stints in university, after the death of his adoptive mother.
  5. Prior to the loss of his mother, Ellison had been named science student of the year at University of Illinois.
  6. The first company Ellison co-founded launched in 1977. It was called Software Development Laboratories and his investment was $1200. He and his partners won a two-year contract to build a database for the CIA; they called the project "Oracle." Their company would become Relational Software Inc. in 1979, and change names one more time, in 1982, to become Oracle Systems Corporation.
  7. Ellison almost lost everything when Oracle nearly went bankrupt in the early 1990s.
  8. An adventurer and adrenaline junkie at heart, Ellison suffered numerous injuries as a result of his participation in extreme sports, including mountain biking and body surfing.
  9. He was inducted into the Academy of Achievement (the museum of living history in Washington) in 1997.
  10. The Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Centre opened in 1998 and is so named after he donated $5 million to seed the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculo-Skeletal Research Centre. Ellison has shattered his elbow in a high-speed cycling crash and felt inspired to kick off his philanthropic efforts in a huge way.
  11. Ellison sued the City of San Jose in 2000 after he was cited for violating rules around night takeoffs and landings at the San Jose Mineta International Airport. He won.
  12. As of 2002, Ellison had access to $1 billion in credit. When a judge unsealed court records in 2006 from a shareholder lawsuit, it was revealed that Ellison's accountant had chastised him for repeatedly pushing his credit limit to the max with extravagant purchases including mansions, yachts, and luxury cars.
  13. A 2003 book authored by investigative journalist Mike Wilson gets right to the heart of Ellison's legendary reputation. It's titled, The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison*: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison.
  14. Ellison was responsible for the priciest real estate deal in US history when he purchased five lots on Malibu's Carbon Beach in 2004 for $65 million. He held the title only briefly; Ron Perlman unloaded his Florida estate for $70 million a few months later.
  15. Between 2004 and 2007, Ellison led Oracle through an acquisition-based growth that strategy that saw the company drop $25 billion on other software brands, large and small.
  16. By 2006, Forbes had declared him the richest Californian.
  17. That same year, Ellison made waves by reneging on his pledge to donate $115 million to Harvard University after the departure of the President of the school.
  18. From 2007 to 2009, Ellison raked in over $50 million per year (sometimes well over). In August 2009, his base salary was reduced from $1 million to one dollar.
  19. Ellison owned one of the largest yachts on the planet until 2010, when he sold his rights to the Rising Sun to David Geffen.
  20. He's a licensed pilot and owns two military jets.
  21. Ellison has been married and divorced four times. His second wife married him prior to the founding of Oracle and when they divorced shortly after, signed off on any rights to the company for $500.
  22. When Ellison married his fourth wife, romance novelist Melanie Craft, his good friend Steve Jobs served as wedding photographer.
  23. Ellison had a cameo (alongside fellow tech guru Elon Musk) in the 2010 movie Iron Man 2.
  24. In 2011, Ellison hired a "tree lawyer" (yes, those actually exist) and took his neighbors to court for blocking his views with three redwoods and an acacia tree. They eventually settled.
  25. He's one of the 128 (or so) billionaires to sign The Giving Pledge, committing at least half of his fortune to philanthropic causes.
  26. Ellison has long been passionate about yachting and in 2013, his Oracle Team USA defeated the Emirates Team New Zealand to win the America's Cup.
  27. He owns 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai.
  28. Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle in 2014, entrusting the company he built from the ground up to two trusted colleagues. He now serves as Executive Chairman and CTO.
  29. He's tried and failed to buy two NBA teams, the New Orleans Hornets and Golden Gate Warriors. Though he doesn't own a team, he still has Oracle Stadium.
  30. Ellison reportedly owns hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate around the world, including a Rhode Island estate and historic gardens in Kyoto.