NET WORTH: $46.6 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Oracle
FUNDING AREAS: Environment
OVERVIEW: Ellison loves fast cars, huge yachts, exotic trips — and philanthropy. He has signed the Giving Pledge, and in his personal philanthropy he focused on cutting-edge medical research for many years. At the end of 2013 however, the Ellison Medical Foundation stopped pursuing biomedical grantmaking, and changed its name to the Lawrence Ellison Foundation. Now, animals and wildlife appears to be an area he's wading in to.
BACKGROUND: When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was listed as one of the most charitable CEOs in the country, the level of his philanthropy seemed to catch many by surprise. This despite the fact that Ellison was one of the first 40 signees of the Giving Pledge. In the statement he made while signing the Giving Pledge, he claimed to have placed most of his assets in a special trust and said that he would one day give 95% of his wealth to charity.
Ellison has reportedly given away at least $808 million in his lifetime.
ELLISON MEDICAL FOUNDATION: Historically, the bulk of Ellison's donations have gone to the Ellison Medical Foundation, which was one of the largest supporters of research on aging. Ellison's adoptive mother died of cancer while he was in college, and Oracle cofounder Robert Miner succumbed to cancer in 1994, so this is an issue that resonates with Ellison.
The Ellison Medical Foundation provided more than $300 million in funding for biomedical research on aging. It has a focus on age-related diseases and disabilities, including research on stem cells, longevity genes, neural development, cognitive decline, DNA and mitochondrial damage, Werner Syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and cellular response to aging.
LAWRENCE ELLISON FOUNDATION: With a new name for his charitable outfit, one area where Ellison is wading into is animals and wildlife. He's a trustee at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund which works towards gorilla conservation. He’s also stirred up controversy with his recent purchase of Hawaii’s Lanai island, which he wants to turn into a “laboratory for sustainability.” In a recent year, Oracle gave $1 million to the National Geographic Initiative to fund the education component of a project to stop ocean degradation.
Ellison has said that 95 percent of his wealth will eventually go to philanthropy. As for now, there’s been talk of education, global health, and development funding in the foundation’s future. It's worth noting that when Ellison's shift in philanthropy happened, even the executive director didn’t explain the reasons, or what the future would hold for Ellison’s giving.
- Kevin Lee, PhD, Executive Director, Ellison Medical Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org