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Larry Ellison, the founder of the technology giant Oracle (ORCL - Get Report)  , is reportedly worth $65.7 billion - that's billion with a "b."

That figure lands Ellison at number seven on Forbes' wealthiest individuals on earth.

Ellison founded Oracle Corp., which specializes in software services and database management, in 1977. He is no longer chief executive officer of the company, resigning from the post in 2014, but Ellison still serves as the company's chairman of the board and chief technology officer.

How did Ellison, who never finished college, wind up running one of the largest technology companies in the world? It's an intriguing story -- one worth checking out if technology billionaires are a big area of your interest.

Early Life

Larry Ellison was born Aug. 17, 1944 in New York City.

His mother and father had already separated by the time Ellison was born and he was being raised by his aunt and uncle, as Ellison's mother decided that raising a sick child (he had pneumonia at an early age) was too difficult for a single mother.

Ellison grew up in a middle-class household in Chicago, after his aunt and uncle adopted him and moved the entire family to Illinois. He was a diligent student who studied hard and had an early interest in computers.

Ellison decided to attend college at the University of Illinois, but left after his adopted mother died. He opted to enroll at the University of Chicago, where he stayed for one semester before moving west to Berkeley, Calif., the home of the University of California.

Early Career and Oracle

Ellison adapted quickly to the tech-heavy Berkeley culture.

He soon found himself immersed in the intricacies of database management, and in 1997 founded Oracle in large part to explore market opportunities in the relationship database design sector. The company soon found success and began competing with industry heavyweights like Sybase and Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) . 

Ellison actually founded Oracle while he worked as a software engineer at Ampex Corp., where he was directly involved with creating a database for the U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), called "Oracle."

His new company wouldn't be tagged with the same name just starting out. At first, Ellison's new company was called Software Development Laboratories, and was funded with $2,000 in cash.

By 1979, the company had changed its name to Relational Software Inc. before finally being renamed Oracle in 1982. Success was elusive at first, as the company's first flagship product, dubbed "Oracle 2," didn't sell well. The company also faced financial difficulties in the form of shady sales practices and a corporate earning scandal.

Oracle found its footing in the emerging mid-range computer server market, fighting toe to toe with Sybase and Microsoft, but not IBM (IBM - Get Report) , which ceded the mid-range computer software market to other, younger and nimbler companies.

By the 1990s, Oracle had surpassed older competitors like Sybase and newer ones like Informix and held the high ground, marketing-wise, for a decade, until IBM entered the mid-range computer service marketplace and as Microsoft rolled out its new SQL server, which ran on Microsoft's Windows operating system.

By 2010, Oracle was firmly entrenched at the top of the computer server software marketplace, and the company grew larger after its purchase of Sun Microsystems in January of that year. By that time, Ellison was ranked by Forbes as the sixth-wealthiest person on the planet and the third-wealthiest U.S. citizen, behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

He went on to greater success with Oracle for the remainder of the decade, and retired as CEO as the fifth-wealthiest individual in the world in 2014.

Controversies and a High Salary

Aside from Oracle's corporate earnings and inflated sales scandals early on in Ellison's tenure at the company, technology insiders were also whispering Ellison's eye-raising income deal with Oracle, especially on the stock options front.

For example, in 2007, Ellison earned a base salary of $1 million, plus a cash bonus of $8.369 million. Yet he walked away with a total compensation package for the year of $61.6 million, after a hefty options payout of over $50 million. The next year, Ellison was granted company stock options worth over $71 million, giving him a total income package of $84.6 million for 2008.

In July, 2009, Oracle's board of directors approved another options payout, this one worth $7 million. To better manage his growing taxable income burden, Ellison was paid only $1 to serve as Oracle CEO during the 2010 fiscal year.

How Does Larry Ellison Spend His Money?

A decent case could be made that Ellison spends his money on alimony for his four ex-wives, but a better one centers on his devotion to passionate causes, along with a highly-developed love for luxury homes and high-priced toys and gadgets.

Ellison does like to throw his cash around. He owns his own golf course, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. valued at almost $43 million. He also owns a $110 million mansion in Woodside, Califl, and has steered $180 million into 11 residential properties in and near Malibu, Calif.

Larry Ellison also made headlines when he purchased a mansion in tony Newport, R.I. worth $10.5 million. Even more dramatic was Ellison's promise to purchase 98% of the island of Lanai in Hawaii, for a reported $500 million.

Ellison has spent so much money on homes and high-end toys like a $194 million yacht that his accountant infamously advised him to "slow down" on his spending back in 2002 and wrote in a memo that his spending was like a "freight train" hitting a "debt wall."

Yet Ellison has done exactly the opposite as he continues to accumulate real estate properties (which do usually appreciate in value, making them a good investment) and buy high-end consumer goods. Ellison also owns a Gulfstream G50 private jet valued at $75 million and an Italian-made SIAI-Marchetti S.211 military jet.

Cars and boats are a luxury favorite of Ellison's, too.

He owns a Lexus LS(XF40), a Lexus LFA, an Acura NSX, and a McLaren F1, along with two high-end yachts, one valued at $200 million (which he has since sold) and the other valued at $130 million.

Ellison is also a sporting buff, as well. Apart from his golf course in California, Ellison owns the Indian Wells Tennis Center (also California-based) and in the early 2000s founded BMW (BMWYY) Oracle Racing, a sailboat racing venture.

Despite his lavish spending, Larry Ellison remains near the top of the world's wealthiest individuals in the world.

Charitable Causes

Larry Ellison also walks the walk on charitable giving.

He contributed the upfront money for the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center, which opened in 1998 and is a frequent benefactor for Israel-related political causes.

He has also donated $200 million to the University of Southern California for a cancer research center, and has signed the Giving Pledge, a campaign where wealthy individuals commit to giving the majority of their wealth to charity (he signed the agreement in 2010.)

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