tv Oracle Founder Larry Ellison Delivers Commencement Address at the... CSPAN May 31, 2016 4:33am-5:00am EDT
announcer: oracle founder larry ellison delivered the commencement spaced a graduate of the diversity of southern california and los angeles. he spoke about his early struggles to find a job that he loved and how his best friend, steve jobs, taught him that there is more to life and money. he also encouraged graduates to try new things and not be afraid to challenge the status quo. this is 25 minutes. larry: good morning class of 2016. thank you for inviting me here. i am honored to be with you for your graduation from the university of southern california. this morning i would like to
talk with you about how a few experiences and couple of ideas taught me some important lessons and helped me discover my dreams. when i was your age, living and going to school in chicago back in the 1960's, i used to dream about this place. the university of southern california. back then, my dream was to go to the usc medical school, get married, raise a family, and practice medicine in los angeles. growing up in a lower middle-class community on the southside of chicago, medicine was considered the pinnacle of professions. noble and humane. virtually everyone important in my life, my family, my teachers, my girlfriend, wanted me to be a
doctor. over time, their dreams became my dreams. they convinced me. i should be a doctor. as hard as i tried, i could not do it. after a few difficult and unhappy years as a pre-med student, it became painfully clear to me that i did not like the courses i was taking. i thought my comparative anatomy class was a perversely put in this form of psychological torture. especially the dissection labs. i could not make myself study something that did not interest me. at the time, i thought i lacked discipline. and that i was selfish. maybe so. whatever the underlying reasons, i was unable to make myself into
the person that i thought i should be. so i decided to stop trying. i was 21 years old when i dropped out of college. i packed everything i owned, jeans, t-shirts, leather jacket, guitar, into my car, and drove from chicago to berkeley, california. i guess one small part of that university of southern california dream was mine after all. the california part. berkeley in the 1960's was at the center of everything. the antiwar movement, the free speech movement, the human rights movement. it was the perfect place for an undisciplined, selfish twentysomething to begin his search for himself, a righteous cause, and a job that he loved.
everyone living in berkeley in the 1960's opposed the vietnam war. i was not different. it was the age of aquarius, but i never had long hair and i never wore love beads. i learned to play popular songs on my guitar but i was never a committed, serious antiwar protester. i found a cause, however. one i still feel passionately about today. a few hours east of berkeley are the sierra nevada mountains. i fell in love with those mountains and the ineffable natural beauty of yosemite. i cared about the wilderness and i wanted to help preserve it and i joined the sierra club, became an environmentalist.
during my california springs and summers, i spent most of my days in the high sierras and yosemite valley, working as a river guide and a rock climbing instructor. i loved those jobs per but unfortunately, they did not pay that well. so i also got a job working a couple days a week as a computer programmer back in berkeley. i had learned to program in college. i did not love programming but it was fun and i was good at it. computer programming gave me the same kind of satisfaction for solving math problems and leaving -- playing chess -- both things i enjoyed before anything in a confused teenager. at this point in my life, i thought i was making real progress on my journey of self-discovery.
i had found a cause, had a couple of jobs, and one that was fun and paid the bills. i was pretty happy with my life. my wife was not. what she saw was a college dropout who spent too much time in the mountains doing foolish things. she wanted me to work full-time as a computer programmer or go back to college and finish my degree. we compromised. sort of. i started taking classes at uc berkeley. i took several classes but the only one i can remember was a sailing class taught at the marina once again, i fell in love and began a lifelong affair with the limitless omnipotent pacific ocean. when my class was over, i wanted to buy a sailboat and my wife
said, this was the single stupidest idea she had ever heard in her entire life. she accused me of being a responsible and she told me i lacked ambition. she kicked me out. and then she divorced me. this was a pivotal moment in my life. [laughter] [applause] larry: my family was still mad at me for not going to medical school and now my wife was divorcing me because i lacked ambition. it looked like a reccurrence of the same problem, once again, i was unable to live up to the expectations of others. but this time, i was not disappointed in myself for failing to be the person they thought i should be.
their dreams and my dreams were different and would never confuse the two of them again. i discovered things that i loved, the sierra mountains, yosemite, the pacific ocean, these natural wonders probably me joy and happiness and would for the rest of my life. i had an interesting job programming computers and more money than i needed. for the first time, i was certain that i was going to survive. a huge burden of fear had been lifted. i will never forget that moment. it was a time for rejoicing. i bought the sailboat and lived on board, just me and my cats in berkeley. in the words of james joyce, i was alone and young and willful and unheeded, but i was happy,
and near to the wild heart of life. throughout my 20's, i continued experimenting and try different things, racing bikes and those bikes and those boats, and constantly changing jobs. it did not take me long to discover that the most interesting and rewarding programming jobs were found at a cluster of companies located south of stanford university and north of san jose. silicon valley was in its infancy. i was still in my 20's when i went to work for my first silicon valley startup. we developed the world's fastest mainframe computer, faster than anything ibm had. at the next stop, we built the world's largest digital data storage system. then on to precision instruments where we built an even larger storage system, this time using lasers. i was the vice president in
charge of software development. it was all very cutting edge and challenging and cool. i liked my work most of the time but i did not love it. i searched and i searched but i just could not find a software engineering job that i loved as much as i loved sailing. so i tried to create one. i put together a plan to start my own company. that way, i could completely control my work environment. i would hire the most talented programmers i knew and we would all work together. on the most interesting and challenging software projects. my goal was to create the perfect job for me, a job i truly loved. i never expected the company to grow beyond 50 people. maybe i really did lack ambition or vision.
i don't know. it was a long time ago and i was very young. anyway, today oracle employees around 50,000 people. when i started, it was not my intention to build a big company. what happened? at first, we did it exactly what we started out to do. we hired the most talented software engineers in silicon valley. we assembled a team of gifted programmers who were among the best in the world at what they did. that team plus one crazy idea gave birth to a giant company. i called it a crazy idea because at the time, everyone told me it was a crazy idea. the idea was to build the world's first relational database. several theoretical papers about
relational databases had already been published, he and ibm was building a prototype in their research labs. but back then, the collective wisdom of computer experts was that while they could be built, they would never be fast enough to be useful. i thought all of those so-called computer experts were wrong. and when you start telling people that all the experts are wrong, at first they call you arrogant, and then they say you are crazy. so remember this, graduates. when people start telling you that you are crazy, you just might be onto the most important innovation in your life. [applause]
larry: the other possibility is you are crazy. [laughter] larry: this is one of those times when the experts were wrong. arrogance and insanity turned out to be innovation in disguise. the oracle database proved to be a defining technology at the don -- dawn of the information age. the oracle database totally upended my plan to build a small, comfortable company, a perfect place for me and a few of my friends. as the information age moved to the light of day, technology horizons were constantly shifting, revealing a brave and exciting world of new possibilities and opportunities. oracle doubled in size year after year after year for 10 years. i set out to create the purpose -- perfect programming job from a paired instead, i created a job where i had to stop
programming altogether. i attempted to create an environment that i could completely control. instead, i was running a company with thousands of people that was growing so fast that it was impossible for anyone to control. it was like sailing in a hurricane. then we went public. oh, my god. maybe i should have been a doctor. i was constantly learning, every day i learned something new and interesting, something that i did not know the day before. i liked that. my new job was challenging, captivating, consuming. i worked all the time but thinking back, i am pretty sure i did not love it or maybe i was just too tired to even know how i felt. i had found a place in the world.
my family finally forgave me for not going to medical school. and nobody ever accused me of lacking ambition again. now i would like to tell you one last story about my best friend, a guy who had lots of crazy ideas and taught me an important lesson. my 30-year friendship with steve jobs was made up of a thousand walks. if there was something he wanted to talk about, we would go for a walk. and there was always something wewanted to talk about. climbed to the top of windy hill. we hiked through the mountains. one particular walks stood out in my mind. jumped in the car, put the
top down and headed out to castle rock state parknds. in the santa cruz mountains. it was over 20 years ago. back in may 1995. steve was finishing toy story and with pixar. apple was in severe distress. it had gone steadily downhill during the 10 years of his absence. the problems were now so serious that people were wondering if apple would survive. it was all too painful to watch and standby and do nothing. of thaturpose particular hike through the santa cruz mountains on that -- on thatr day particular day was to discuss taking over apple computer. my idea was simple. by apple and immediately make steve ceo. apple was not worth much back then, about $5 billion. we both had really good credit. i had already arranged to borrow all of the money.
all steve had to do was say yes. steve proposed a somewhat more circuitous approach. first, persuade apple to buy next computer. then steve would join the apple board and over time the board would recognize that steve was the right guy to lead the company. i said, ok. that might work. but steve, if we do not buy apple, how are we going to make any money? suddenly steve stopped walking and turned toward me. he put his left hand on my right shoulder and his right hand on my left shoulder. staring unblinkingly into my eyes, steve said, very, this is
-- larry, this is why do so important that i am your friend will stop you do not need any more money. i said, i know, i know. then i said, but we don't have to keep it, we can give it all away. i was whining. steve just shook his head and said, i am not doing this for the money. i don't want to get paid. if i do this, i need to do this standing on the moral high ground. the moral high ground, i said? that just might be the most expensive real estate on earth -- but i knew i had lost the argument steve had made up his mind at castle rock in the summer of 1995 to save apple his way. at the end, i said, steve, you created apple, it is your
company, and it is your call. i will do whatever you want me to do. i went onto the apple board and i watched steve build the most valuable company on earth. [applause] larry: the lesson here is very clear to me. steve was right. after a certain point, it cannot be about the money. after a certain point, you cannot spend it no matter how hard you try. i know, i have tried hard. but it is impossible. in the end it, the only practical option is to give nearly all of it away. so why did steve go back to apple? so much ofdevote what remained of his life to
his? -- to his job? why do i? i believe the answer is that deep inside of all of us, all of us, there is a primal desire to do something important with our lives. freud said there are only two things important in life. love, and work. he did not say love and work were the same thing. i am passionate about my work. it continues to give me great satisfaction and a sense of who i am. passion and love are different. at least for me they are. i love my family. a few precious friends, for cats, two dogs, cherry blossoms in japan, pacific island beaches, and the majestic sierra nevada mountains where it all
began for me. my feelings about work are very intense but quite different. there was a television advertisement for the navy that says it is not just a job, it is an adventure. that is exactly how i feel about my years in silicon valley. an interesting, challenging, all-consuming adventure. like any ongoing adventure, i have no idea how it ends, but i know that it will, or meat. and a long, long time from now, for all of you. but today, graduates, you are beginning your great venture. your generation will change the world, as every generation does.
you will invent new technologies and create new types of art. and possibilities will be transformed and possibilities. unexpected opportunities will present themselves. you will change the world. and the world will change you, as you learn and grow and discover more about yourself. remember this. in a constantly changing world, what is possible is a moving target. do not be afraid to experiment and try lots of different things. do not let the experts discourage you when you challenge the status quo. like mark twain says, what is an expert, anyway? just some guy from out of town. [laughter] larry: each of you has the chance to discover who you are and who you should be, a chance to live your dreams, not the dreams of others. each of you has an obligation to
commit to a righteous cause, one that elevates you and improves the conditions of humanity and the planet. soon, many of you will begin a new job. i hope it interests you and challenges you. and rewards you with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. but if it does not, keep searching. it is out there. it might take a a while but keep searching, and until you find a job that ignites your passion, like i did. even better, you just might find one that you love. thank you, and congratulations. [applause]
professors from boston university and m.i.t. join a conversation about united states policy in the asia-pacific region. at noon, a relationship between the -- a discussion about the relationship he between product to be and wages. that is from the heritage foundation at 12 noon. >> our campaign 2016 bus continues to travel throughout country to recognize winners from this year's student cam competition. recently it went to massachusetts, to foxboro, where all of the students from first arough eighth grade went to ceremony to honor seventh graders for their honorable mention video. the bus also stopped in ludlow to recognize honorable mention
winners and a wintering -- a winning video. lgt --ther video, about og bt rights. a were recognized and received $250 for their video. a special thank you to comcast and charter communications for helping to coordinate these visits. you can see all of the winning videos at student cam.org. announcer: our look at commencement speeches continues now with filmmaker and activist spike lee. he spoke to her graduates of johns hopkins university in baltimore where he urged them to be catalysts for change. he also paid trip to the late singer prince by reading his song baltimore that was released last year following events in the city over the death of freddie gray. [applause]
spike: hello. that is weak. hello. >> hello. spike: thank you. my thanks to president daniels, the board of trustees, the faculty, administration, and the graduating class of 2016. again, we must acknowledge the people who made this possible, the parents. [applause] as the great philosopher and poet mr. p.r. nelson once said, dearly beloved, we gather here today to get to this thing called life. but on this occasion, the graduation of a class in the