Larry Ellison

NET WORTH: $61 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Oracle

FUNDING AREAS: Medical research, Israel Defense Forces, Animals & Wildlife

OVERVIEW: Ellison’s philanthropy has been modest so far relative to his net worth. But he’s still given a substantial sum over time through his Lawrence Ellison Foundation (previously the Ellison Medical Foundation)—reportedly more than $800 million. When Ellison signed 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 percent of his wealth to charity. Ellison’s biggest giving has focused on biomedical research.  

BACKGROUND: As the founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison has been one of tech industry’s visionary leaders for decades. Along the way, he’s become well known for his outsized personality and sense of adventure, including a passion for competitive sailing.

ISSUES

MEDICAL RESEARCH: For years, Ellison made steady donations through the Ellison Medical Foundation, which was one of the largest private 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 had 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.

A few years ago, Ellison changed the name of his charitable outfit to the Lawrence Ellison Foundation and appeared to be stepping back from funding biomedical research. However, in May 2016, at the Rebels with a Cause fundraising gala for the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, Ellison announced that he was giving $200 million to establish the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC. The university called the gift "among the largest made to cancer research and treatment in recent years." At the gala, Ellison said, "The new institute will invite mathematicians, physicists and other scientists to collaborate with cancer researchers from the traditional disciplines of medicine and biology. We believe the interdisciplinary approach will yield up new insights currently hidden in existing patient data."

That major gift aside, it’s unclear whether Ellison’s foundation is still actively supporting individual researchers.

OTHER: Animals and wildlife is another area of interest for Ellison. He's a trustee of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund which works towards gorilla conservation. He’s also stirred up controversy with his 2012 purchase of Hawaii’s Lanai island, which he wants to turn into a “laboratory for sustainability.”

Ellison has given more than $25 million to Israeli efforts, including a 2017 donation of $16.6 million to the Israel Defense Forces and a $10 million contribution to the Friends of Israel Defense Forces in 2014. Ellison has said that his connection to the Israelis stems not from his upbringing (he was raised in a Reform Jewish household), but from an appreciation of the innovative spirit of Israelis in the technology sector.

CONTACT: Kevin Lee, Ph.D., Executive Director, Lawrence Ellison Foundation, klee@ellisonfoundation.org

LINKS: Lawrence Ellison Foundation