For the next eight years he bounced from job to job, working as a technician for Fireman's Fund, Wells Fargo bank and began working as a programmer with large databases at Ampex. At Ampex he built a large database for the CIA, code name: Oracle.
Oracle went public in 1986, raising $31.5 million with its initial public offering, but the firm's zealous young staff for the rapidly expanding firm habitually overstated revenues, and in 1990 the company posted its first losses. Oracle's market capitalization fell by 80 percent and the company appeared to be on the verge of bankruptcy. Ellison bit the bullet and replaced much of the original senior staff with more experienced managers. For the first time, he delegated the management side of the business to professionals, and channeled his own energies into product development. The newest version of the database program was a solid success and in only two years the company's stock had regained much of its previous value.
Even as Oracle's fortunes rose again, Ellison suffered a series of personal mishaps. Long an enthusiast of many sports and outdoor activities, in rapid succession Ellison suffered serious injuries while body surfing and mountain biking. Ellison survived major surgery, and continued to race his 78-foot yacht and practice aerobatics in his private jet.
Oracle's fortunes continued to rise throughout the 1990s. America's banks, airlines, automobile companies and retail giants all depend on Oracle's database programs. Oracle has benefited hugely from the growth of electronic commerce; its net profits increased by 76 percent in a single quarter of the year 2000. As the stocks of other high tech companies fluctuated wildly, Oracle held its value, and its largest shareholder, founder and CEO Larry Ellison, had come very close to a long-cherished goal, surpassing Microsoft's Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world.