Ellison ditches conference speech to go sailing

Oracle founder Larry Ellison left 60,000 people in the lurch so he could watch his sailing team. Oh, for the life of a billionaire action man...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 27 Sep 2013

Larry Ellison; Oracle founder, sailing fan, Iron Man 2 star, general Action Man type; is in the doghouse with Oracle fans after he skived a conference at which thousands of delegates were waiting to listen to him speak, so he could spend the afternoon messing about on boats.

Granted, the boat in question was a chase boat on San Francisco Bay during the second day of the America’s Cup (v important to sailing fans, MT is told). And granted, his team, which includes UK sailing champion Ben Ainslie, was about to storm into the finals of the competition (a ‘winner-takes-all showdown’ which takes place this afternoon, MT is also told).

But that wasn’t much consolation to the 60,000 people who had paid up to $3,500 (£2,190) to attend Oracle Openworld, only to be left waiting in the auditorium at San Francisco’s Moscone centre yesterday afternoon.

Team Oracle USA at yesterday's race. Image credit: Flickr/Steve Rhodes

Larry fans were apparently hanging around for 45 minutes after Ellison’s speech was due to begin before they were told, by (presumably quite nervous) chairman Jeff Henley that he wasn’t going to turn up.

Instead, Oracle executive vice president of product development Thomas Kurian gave Ellison’s speech, but by then the damage was done and hundreds of delegates left the auditorium.

‘I guess Larry’s boat is more important to him than all these people here,’ sighed HP employee Steve Katz to an AP reporter, in a tone MT can only imagine was ‘not angry, just disappointed’.

It isn’t the first time Ellison has ditched work in favour of sailing. A week ago, he didn’t attend a conference call with investors on Oracle’s quarterly earnings because he was busy with ‘an important America’s Cup race’. So at least Openworld attendees can take solace in the fact that they’re treated with the same deference as shareholders...

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