Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison Is One of America's Richest Men and a Trump Supporter

American software giant Oracle quickly emerged as a frontrunner in the takeover bid of TikTok on Monday after Microsoft confirmed that the app's parent company ByteDance rejected its offer for control over its U.S. operations.

Facing political pressure from the Trump administration and threats of an outright ban if a deal couldn't be reached by mid-September, the popular video app was said to be the focus of acquisition talks with several U.S. technology and retail companies.

But unlike some companies reportedly vying for the bid, multiple executives from the enterprise-focused Oracle enjoy links to the Trump administration.

While Microsoft was viewed as a favored candidate, Trump himself praised Oracle and its co-founder, Larry Ellison, when asked about the deal in an August briefing.

"I think Oracle is a great company, and I think its owner is a tremendous guy. He's a tremendous person. I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it. Yeah. We gave them until September 15th," the president said at the time.

Ellison, 76, co-founded Oracle in 1977 and served as its CEO until September 2014. He is now chairman and chief technology officer. According to Forbes, as of September 14 he has a net worth of over $74 billion and owns 35.4 percent of the company.

In a list of the top 400 wealthiest Americans in 2020, Ellison was ranked at number five. On a global scale, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index placed Ellison as the 11th richest person in the world as of today, although that rich list shifts on a daily basis.

He is also one of the few tech industry figureheads who has supported the president. In February this year, the billionaire opened his estate in Rancho Mirage, California, for a campaign fundraising event, with supporters paying $100,000 to get a golf outing and have their photo taken with Trump, according to The Desert Sun paper.

The move didn't sit well with hundreds of Oracle employees, who staged a protest a few days later, with some leaving their office to attend volunteering work and other donating to charities, Bloomberg reported.

The Hill reported the fundraising event came after the Trump administration sided with Oracle over Google in an ongoing copyright case.

Clarifying his position to Forbes, Ellison later said he had never personally given money to the president's efforts and played down the campaign fundraiser. He stated: "I said President Trump could use the property. I was not here. We only have one president at a time. I don't think he's the devil—I support him and want him to do well."

Ellison bought most of an Hawaiian island called Lanai for around $300 million in 2012 and joined Tesla's board in 2018 after purchasing about three million shares.

He is not the only Oracle executive with links to Trump. Its current chief executive officer Safra Catz joined the then president-elect's transition team in December 2016, a move that resulted in the resignation of another senior exec, George Polisner, 57.

"I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way," Polisner said in his resignation letter that was also posted to his LinkedIn, as The Guardian reported.

In April, Ellison and Catz told Oracle employees they had set up a cloud system to help the government's efforts to record data about COVID-19 treatments. Ellison spoke with Trump by phone and offered the work for free, according to Business Insider.

The future of the TikTok deal is unclear at the time of writing.

Critics in the U.S. say the app's Chinese ownership poses a security risk to American users, a suggestion that has been repeatedly denied by the app's leadership.

Citing state media, Reuters reported that ByteDance was not selling to either Oracle or Microsoft. A source told the South China Morning Post that Tiktok's algorithm, which is essentially what powers the app, would not be included in any acquisition deal.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Oracle will be a "trusted tech partner" in the U.S. and it isn't believed to be an outright sale. It remains unclear if those terms, potentially aided by Ellison's influence, will be enough to persuade Trump to stand down.

In a statement yesterday, Microsoft said: "ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests."

Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison attends the Rebels With A Cause Gala 2019 at Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC on October 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Phillip Faraone/Getty