Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

Larry Ellison Goes Face-to-Face with Founders from Oracle for Startups

Amy Sorrells
Global Communications, Oracle for Startups

For the third year in a row, founders from Oracle for Startups were treated to an exclusive and intimate event with Larry Ellison, the CTO and founder of Oracle. Hosted at Ellison’s San Francisco home, the Founder to Founder event has become an Oracle for Startups tradition that is the ultimate cherry on top of a jam-packed, week-long Oracle OpenWorld.

It’s no typical fireside chat in a sterile hotel ballroom, with more than 20 founders welcomed into Ellison’s home to enjoy appetizers, drinks and conversation among his curated art collection and stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. But the best part was the almost two hours Larry spent discussing everything from the state of entrepreneurship to artificial intelligence and his desire to cure cancer…and just about everything else in between.

Access to Founder to Founder is an exclusive benefit for the entrepreneurs who have joined Oracle for Startups, but we’ll go ahead and share some of our favorite wisdom from Larry. It was hard to narrow down, but here are our top takeaways:

On The State Of Entrepreneurship Today

“I think the scale of the problems that entrepreneurs have worked on and solved has always been enormous…I’m not sure entrepreneurship in its grandest sense has changed very much. I think what has changed is it’s now global…There are just so many more entrepreneurs today. Gender participation has changed radically. National participation has changed radically. I think entrepreneurs are the change agents in our world.”



On Working Hard And What Inspires Him

“I do not burn out from hard work though. Some days I feel like I get tired. I get tired from hard work but I don't get burned out. You get burned out from losing. Nothing burns you out faster than losing. Nothing strengthens your resolve and motivation more than winning.”


On The New Oracle Mission Statement

“It was important to engage our employees, as well as our customers, that we were doing something good. We wanted to put together a mission statement that would inspire our employees. That they were involved in something that was large and important and worth doing. It had to be related to our business and we're in the business of managing data and so the mission had to acknowledge that's what we do every day. We protect your data. We make it easy to access and help you look at your data in new ways, to unlock endless possibilities. The fact that information can inform and inspire our actions.”


On The Importance On AI For The Enterprise And Oracle

“I think machine learning, the latest iterations of AI, are probably the most important new technology, certainly in the last 10 years. It is what separates the second-generation cloud from the first-generation cloud. I mean autonomous database would not be autonomous without AI, without machine learning, the autonomous operating system, autonomous driving, computer vision, Alexa, you name it. We have machine learning tools built into our cloud. It's built into all of our applications. It's built into our database, the operating system. I don't know if it's the most important new technology for computers ever… but it may be.”


On Founders In Our Program “Picking Up The Torch” And Leading Innovation Today

“Thank you for picking up the torch and solving problems other people hadn't solved before, hiring people, changing their lives, changing the lives of their families. I think sometimes we don't realize just the scope of what we do as we pursue our goals, the positive ways that we impact the people around us. Thank you for being a leader and taking full advantage of the opportunity.”


On Being “A Smart Ass” And Founders Needing To Grow And Mature

“I know in my youth I've said some ridiculous things, just because I knew it would just piss everybody off. I was a smart ass. But it turns out it's cheap thrills and it's not worth it. It really isn't worth it. You have to behave in a humane way or people aren't going to like you, and it's very useful as an entrepreneur or in life, for people to like you. It's not a good strategy as a leader. It's not a good strategy as a person. It's just a really bad idea. It took me a while to get over it.”


The Most Important Thing To Scaling A Successful Business

“Entrepreneurs usually start out with a good idea and are driven or passionate. We can do this and then we build a team and we go do it. And we have to inspire them with the belief that what we want to do is possible. That's how it all begins. Then sometimes it starts getting big. You actually solve the problem. You actually have a business and you have a running business and all of a sudden, you have to hire managers and you have to let go of certain parts of the business... I think the most important thing about scaling ... I think the people who scale successfully have one critical skill. They can identify and attract really good people.”


On What Else He’d Like To Accomplish In His Lifetime

“I have been working for a very long time on trying to design small molecule drugs that treat certain types of cancers. Cancer is a whole family of diseases. I mean it's a disease of DNA. It's a disease of pathways. It's very complicated. I would just like, before I die, to have our team design one effective cancer fighting drug. That's what I want to do.”


Why He Is Still Working And The Importance Of Winning As A Team

“Why am I still here at Oracle? I want to win. I love the people I work with. I want to win as a team. I love being on a winning team. Winning alone is okay, better than losing, but winning as a team, going to the locker room and hug and all that stuff, it's the best. I love the people I work with. I admire them. I think they are smart. I think they are honorable. I think we are tackling some really hard problems. I think it's very satisfying to solve those problems. We are building something together. It's a good way to live.”

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Comments ( 2 )
  • Rav Roberts Monday, December 9, 2019
    Great to hear Larry looking back at his past and also forward to his hopes for the future.
    Excellent advice too on hiring brilliant people as you grow, and exactly the challenge that we'll be facing very soon!
  • Amro Shihadah Tuesday, April 14, 2020
    Thank you so much to everyone that has welcomed the founders and amazing cohorts of start-ups into this amazing global family.

    Thank you Mr. Ellison for hosting IDenTV at your home and I hope we cross paths soon ideally watching catamarans race at 70 Knots across SF Bay soon enough.

    Please stay healthy and safe in this time and thank you again for graciously hosting and taking the time to engage with us!

    We look forward to showing the world how powerful the Oracle Cloud is and how amazing the start-ups in the program are.


    Amro Shihadah
    Founder & COO at IDENTV (Proud Video AI Oracle Start-Up)
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