Oracle: Larry Ellison (CEO)
The end of an era. The two-time college dropout and fifth-richest man in the world stepped down from the company he founded. Ellison now has more time to enjoy his private Hawaiian island. In 1977, Oracle had fewer than 10 employees, a few clients, and less than $1 million in sales. That changed in 1981, when Oracle landed a client named IBM and sales doubled each year. By 2004, Oracle had acquired over 40 companies and numerous lawsuits. Instead of backing down or playing nice, Ellison often dug in and generally emerged victorious. He exploited the possession of key information management software against anyone who dared stand in his way, especially Microsoft. The company now has a market cap of $182 billion and Oracle’s products are an integral part of the modern business world. As nimble competitors expand and company growth slows, Oracle’s vision narrows. Who will lead the aggressive charge in Ellison’s place?