Earlier today, Oracle co-founder and billionaire Larry Ellison gave a commencement speech at the University of Southern California. At one point during his speech, he told an interesting story about him and the late Steve Jobs.
In 1995, Ellison and Jobs went on a hike in Castle Rock State Park. “If there was something that Steve wanted to talk about, and there always was, we’d go for a walk,” he said.
Back then, Jobs had already been pushed out of Apple and was the CEO of Next and Pixar.
During the walk, the two men were discussing how they could work together to take back control of Apple. Back then Apple was in shambles following a trend of failed products and poor sales.
“It was all too painful to watch and stand by and do nothing. So the purpose of that particular hike through the Santa Cruz mountains on that particular day was to discuss taking over Apple Computer,” Ellison said.
Ellison’s idea was to simply purchase Apple himself and make Jobs CEO. Back then, Apple was worth roughly $5 billion.
“We both had really good credit, and I had already arranged to borrow all the money. All Steve had to do was say yes,” he said.
However, Jobs had a different idea. He proposed that he would convince Apple to acquire Next, then join Apple’s board. Over time, Jobs predicted that Apple would recognized that he was the right person to lead the company. A year later, this is exactly what happened.
“I said okay. That might work,” Ellison said. “But Steve, if we don’t buy Apple, how are we going to make any money?”
At this point, Steve stopped walked, turned towards Ellison and put both his hands on his shoulders and said:
“Larry, this is why it’s so important that I’m your friend. You don’t need any more money. … I’m 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.”
After Jobs became CEO of Apple again, Ellison joined Apple’s board and watch Jobs “build the most valuable company on Earth.”
“The lesson here is very clear to me. Steve was right. After a certain point, it can’t be about the money. After a certain point you can’t spend it no matter how hard you try. I know, I’ve tried hard,” Ellison said.