Ellison snubs Oracle conference to follow America's Cup



Flamboyant billionaire Larry Ellison disappointed 60,000 people who had travelled from all over the world to hear him speak when he chose to stay out on the water to support his team in the America's Cup.

The Oracle chief executive opted to remain on a chase boat on the San Francisco Bay so he could watch the second of the day's two America's Cup races, as his team staged one of the most staggering comebacks in sporting history.

The battle for the 162-year-old trophy pits Oracle Team USA - a group financed by Ellison's vast wealth - against Emirates Team New Zealand. Oracle (NYSE: ORCL - news) has come from an 8-1 deficit to tie at 8-8. A winner-take-all showdown is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Oracle Team USA crosses the finish line ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand (Reuters)

But the excitement on the water meant Ellison snubbed the crowd that had gathered to see him at the San Francisco convention centre.

The speech is considered to be the marquee event at Oracle OpenWorld, an annual rite of autumn that has grown so large that some San Francisco streets close down to accommodate the masses on hand to learn the about the business software maker's latest products.

Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley waited until 45 minutes after the scheduled start of Ellison's keynote address to inform the packed audience that Ellison would not be coming.

Almost as soon as Henley extended his apologies for Ellison's absence, people began to head for the exits. Thomas Kurian, an Oracle executive vice president of product development, gave an hour-long presentation in Ellison's place.

"I was disappointed," Steve Katz, a Hewlett-Packard employee who traveled from Connecticut, to attend Oracle OpenWorld told AP . "I guess Larry's boat is more important to him than all these people here."

Katz said Ellison could possibly make amends by showing up later in the conference to show the America's Cup to everyone.

If Team USA prevails, it would mark the second straight time that an Ellison-backed boat has won the America's Cup and would complete a stirring comeback.

Oracle Team USA sails to victory against Emirates Team New Zealand during Race 18 (Reuters)

This year's America's Cup finishes at a pier about two miles (3.2 kilometers) away from Oracle OpenWorld because Ellison exercised his right as defending champion to stage the competition in San Francisco, where he owns of one his several homes located around the world.

Ellison's immersion in yachting has sometimes raised questions among analysts whether he is allowing his outside interests to distract him from running the software company that he co-founded 36 years ago.

Ellison, 69, still owns a 25pc stake in Oracle, accounting for most of a personal fortune currently estimated at $41 billion by Forbes magazine.

Ellison's speech Tuesday was supposed to be focused on Oracle's expansion into cloud computing.

The cost to attend the five-day Oracle OpenWorld conference ranges from $2,650 to $3,450 per person. The fee covers a wide range of seminars, keynotes, meals and a concert Wednesday night featuring the groups Maroon 5 and The Black Keys.

Although he skipped out on Tuesday's event, Ellison delivered a welcoming speech Sunday night to kick off the conference. That appearance occurred after Oracle Team USA had already one both of Sunday's America Cup's races.

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