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Ellison spurns speech for sailing competition

The Oracle founder was to have delivered the keynote address at an annual conference

By Michael Liedtke

Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO » About 60,000 people have come from all over the world to attend Oracle's biggest customer conference of the year, but Oracle CEO Larry Ellison left no doubt Tuesday that his boating team's defense of the America's Cup is a higher priority.

Ellison, a billionaire renowned for his flamboyance and hubris, delivered that message by snubbing the crowd that had gathered at a San Francisco convention center to see him on stage. The speech is considered to be the marquee event at Oracle OpenWorld, an annual rite of autumn that has grown so large that some San Francisco streets close down to accommodate the masses on hand to learn the about the business software maker's latest products.

Oracle Corp. Chairman Jeff Henley waited until 45 minutes after the scheduled start of Ellison's keynote address to inform the packed audience that Ellison had decided to remain on a chase boat on the San Francisco Bay so he could watch the second of the day's two America's Cup races. The battle for the 162-year-old trophy pits Oracle Team USA — a group financed by Ellison's vast wealth — against Emirates Team New Zealand.

Almost as soon as Henley extended his apologies for Ellison's absence, people began to head for the exits. Thomas Kurian, an Oracle executive vice president of product development, gave an hourlong presentation in Ellison's place.

"I was disappointed," said Steve Katz, a Hewlett-Packard Co. employee who traveled from Hartford, Conn., to attend Oracle OpenWorld. "I guess Larry's boat is more important to him than all these people here."

Katz said Ellison could possibly make amends by showing up later in the conference to show the America's Cup to everyone.

Oracle Team USA won both of Tuesday's races to even a competition that it seemed destined to lose just a week ago. It increased Team USA's improbable winning streak to seven straight races to knot the match at 8-8.

A winner-take-all showdown is scheduled for this afternoon, weather permitting. If Team USA prevails, it would mark the second straight time that an Ellison-backed boat has won the America's Cup and would complete a stirring comeback. This year's America's Cup finishes at a pier about two miles away from Oracle OpenWorld because Ellison exercised his right as defending champion to stage the competition in San Francisco, where he owns one of his several homes around the world.

Ellison's immersion in yachting has sometimes raised questions among analysts whether he is allowing his outside interests to distract him from running the software company that he co-founded 36 years ago. Ellison, 69, still owns a 25 percent stake in Oracle, accounting for most of a personal fortune currently estimated at $41 billion by Forbes magazine. <t-5>He also owns 97 percent of the island of Lanai as well as interisland carrier Island Air.<t$>

Although it remains one of the world's most profitable software makers, Oracle's growth has been slowing in the past years amid tougher competition from a cast of smaller rivals that are winning over customers by leasing applications that can be accessed on any device with an Internet connection. That method, known as "cloud computing," is a departure from Oracle's traditional approach of licensing software for a one-time fee and then installing the programs on machines typically kept on a customer's premises.

Oracle's disappointing performance in its fiscal year that ended in August prompted Ellison to turn down a cash bonus of $1.2 million awarded to him by the Redwood Shores, Calif., company's board. Ellison still received a compensation package valued at $78.4 million in Oracle's last fiscal year.

Ellison's speech Tuesday was supposed to be focused on Oracle's expansion into cloud computing.

The cost to attend the five-day Oracle OpenWorld conference ranges from $2,650 to $3,450 per person. The fee covers a wide range of seminars, keynotes, meals and a concert Wednesday night featuring the groups Maroon 5 and The Black Keys.

Although he skipped out on Tuesday's event, Ellison delivered a welcoming speech Sunday night to kick off Oracle OpenWorld. That appearance occurred after Oracle Team USA had already won both of Sunday's America Cup's races.

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allie wrote:
Ellison is really an embarrassment. He has done zilch for Lanai or Hawaii. Arrogant dudes are a dime a dozen.
on September 25,2013 | 06:30AM
808BigE wrote:
But honestly, I'm grateful he hasn't done anything yet. Many of the wealthiest would immediately take over and not listen to the people, do things their way, do what they want when they want. His "zilch" as you refer to it is a blessing either way. He's either taking his time and addressing the issues on Lanai with a cool head and putting well-thought plans into place, or he's just too busy to do anything major right now. In either case...the people of Lanai continue to live their life they have been this entire time. Just because he hasn't done anything for the island doesn't mean he's not doing anything for the island...sheesh, you're one to comment on arrogance. Spouting off one-liners and trolling with no means of backing up anything you say
on September 25,2013 | 05:45PM
kahu808 wrote:
You actually been to Lanai and know any residents there?
on September 25,2013 | 07:34PM
awahana wrote:
Personality traits help in predicting behaviors. It can help you immensely in personal interactions in life, and knowing what to expect from people you have identified.
In this case, you want to become familiar with NPD.

In many other cases, you want to become familiar with BPD, which is many times more common, but lesser known. It destroys families and relationships.
on September 25,2013 | 06:46AM
reedosan wrote:
Re Ellison: How do we limit the power of human greed? Income and inheritance taxes!
on September 25,2013 | 11:24AM
LizKauai wrote:
I hope people will understand how amazing it was for AMERICA'S TEAM to come from way behind to win. I give Mr. Ellison a pass on this missed meeting. And offer thanks to Oracle for its sponsorship and support.
on September 25,2013 | 12:39PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Looks like Larry made a good decision.
on September 25,2013 | 02:06PM
Anonymous wrote:
Sorry to say but Billonaire Mogul Ellison and his America's cup racing team have tainted the integrity and honor of the America's Cup sailing regatta, with their illicit actions leading up to the cup challenge!
on September 25,2013 | 04:53PM
808BigE wrote:
I'm not even a sailor...and I watched the last 4 races...I'd take this over nascar any day!
on September 25,2013 | 05:46PM
808BigE wrote:
Also...i guess i get it, i give him a pass as well
on September 25,2013 | 05:46PM
barnaclebill wrote:
He can take the America's Cup to the private concert tonight and show it off to the people who have come to San Francisco to have a good time at a "conference". Larry Ellison is a good sportsman, sailor, and he made the right decision to be on the water and support a team that has been working so hard to come from behind and keep the America's Cup in the USA. With this win, I bet there will be some improvements to the harbor facilities on Lanai, and perhaps some training for America's Cup 35 in a few years. How about having the races in Hawaii!!!
on September 25,2013 | 09:47PM
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