Before there was Google, before there was Yahoo, way before there was Twitter, there was Oracle. Founded in 1977, Oracle is one of the most successful and iconic companies in Silicon Valley.
Until a few months ago, its flamboyant founder, Larry Ellison, had been CEO the whole time. He stepped down to chief technology officer while taking over the executive chairman role.
Ellison is known for a love of water, sailing, aeroplanes, and expensive real estate and all of this is reflected in his company’s headquarters campus.
Since 1989, Oracle's headquarters has dominated the town of Redwood City, California, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.
Our tour guides are Oracle VP of marketing Judy Sim, who started as an intern decades ago, and PR pro Glen Bunting. This isn't a very good picture of Sim …
This is an executive briefing room on the top executive floor used by CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz. Their offices, and Ellison's, are nearby. They have a view of the mountains and ...
... if you look out the window you see the star of the campus. This is the first Oracle Team boat that won the America's Cup back in 2007 in Spain. Oracle won again in 2013 with a much bigger version of this boat.
It's not your classic yacht. It's build for speed, not comfort. Oracle is working on making it even more of an attraction, building a bridge to it.
Oracle has 12 buildings at the Redwood City HQ serving 12,000 employees. It has 39 buildings and 20,000 employees in the greater SF Bay Area and 135,000 employees worldwide.
That cylinder shape of the buildings is an insider geek joke. The symbol for 'database,' Oracle's flagship product, is a cylinder.
If you visit Oracle, you'll come to the Customer Visitor Center, manned by Ashley, who started as an intern. She got her internship simply by emailing Sim and asking for the chance. Sim hires a lot of interns, has a soft spot for them, since she started with Larry Ellison in 1991 as an intern herself.
Oracle sponsors famed acrobatics pilot Sean Tucker, who entertains at Oracle events. This model of his plane is on display at the visitor center. Founder Larry Ellison is also a pilot with an impressive aeroplane collection.
... and fancy touchscreen displays. The customer visitor center hosts over 16,000 customer visits a year.
There's even a gift shop, staffed by Lee, that has Oracle gear like sailing jackets and hats, as well as …
... 'Duke,' the mascot for Oracle's popular programming language Java. Oracle inherited Duke when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2009.
Duke's big thing is being dressed up in different ways each year, like Barbie. This cup is of Cowboy Duke.
At Google, people ride bikes around, but at Oracle, people walk. Sometimes CEO Mark Hurd can be found strolling around, we're told. But he's never gone sailing on one of those insanely fast racing boats.
We didn't see Hurd walking around, but we did run into 20-year veteran 'Mr. Database' Willie Hardy, who has overseen Oracle's database product for eons.
Besides the lake and estuary, the campus is filled with other water features like this concrete waterfall. Because of California's drought they were dry.
Nearly every building at HQ has its own restaurant, too. Oracle has 12 buildings and 7 restaurants on the main campus and 39 buildings and 10 restaurants in the greater SF Bay Area.
Founder Larry Ellison still oversees advertising using the '3 second rule.' Glance at the ad for 3 seconds. If you can't repeat the message the ad is no good.
There are no self-driving cars, but we did spy a photo drone flying above campus. This is Oracle's latest corporate toy, often used at events.
Employees don't have a private 'employee only' park either (like Google built). But Oracle is surrounded by miles of public shores ...
It's on the famous 500-mile long Bay Trail, which also passes by Facebook and Google headquarters buildings to the south. You could walk by three of the most valuable tech companies in the world, all in about an hour.
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