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Sorry, Zuck: Larry Ellison Is San Francisco’s Richest Billionaire

Though he sure doesn't act like it.


Today, when Forbes dropped its map of the wealthiest people in the 50 largest cities in the United States, we rushed to see who we’d be matched with, like a BuzzFeed quiz with only one answer. And it’s…Larry Ellison? Sure, the Oracle mogul, whose net worth has reached $43.8 billion, owns a foliage-addled Billionaires’ Row mansion and even once strong-armed the city into bankrolling his sailing race. He’s influential, we’ll give him that. But it feels odd to be represented by a guy whose name isn’t behind $120 million in funding for Bay Area schools or, say, plastered on a local hospital? Next to Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg looks like Robin Hood.

Zuck, meanwhile, is Forbes’ pick for “San Jose,” a link we can’t quite figure out, given that the couple’s main residence is 17 miles away, in Palo Alto. The two are close in wealth—Zuck’s $42.6 billion is a scant $1.2 billion below Ellison’s. And yet, as Inside Philanthropy pointed out back in 2014, Ellison’s lifetime giving “may only be a third of what Mark Zuckerberg has done.” That assessment—which admittedly could use some updating—appeared in Ellison’s entry on a list of the six least generous tech leaders. Zuck, meanwhile, was ranked among the 10 most generous, in part for the pace of his giving in a still-young career.

Still, we don’t want to give Ellison total short shrift. He has (like Zuckerberg) signed Giving Pledge, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s campaign to encourage the super-rich to give away the majority of their wealth. And he’s given away hundreds of millions to support biomedical research on aging, primarily through the Lawrence Ellison Foundation, which is headquartered in…Maryland?

If the Forbes ranking is going to hold, we hope to see Ellison start acting more like San Francisco’s lead billionaire. Maybe he’s a private guy, and that’s cool—not everyone has the desire to go on Oprah to announce a charitable gift or pen heartfelt, heavily lawyered letters to one’s newborn. But there’s still room to improve! We hear San Francisco needs a few million bucks.



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