Saturday, June 23, 2012

What will Larry Ellison do with Lanai Island?

In the press, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, claims that he plans substantial investment in Lanai Island (Hawaii’s 6th largest island) and support to create jobs and stimulate tourism. We wonder if he will bring technology companies to Hawaii, move Oracle or one of his other Silicon Valley corporations to the island, or just use the island as a getaway and reward destination for his top sales people? 

Lanai Island has been owned by billionaire David Murdock since 1985 and he apparently plans to continue to maintain a home there.  Ellison purchased the island for about $600 million and takes on its annual losses of about $20 million a year.  The sale includes the island's two hotels, the Four Seasons at Manele Bay and the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, two golf courses, and more than 88,000 acres of land.  The 88,000 acres include the Koele and Manele residential properties, Lanai City, stables, a shooting range, two water companies, a transportation company, and part of a solar farm that sells power to Maui Electric Company. Lanai Island is in Maui County along with the islands of Maui and Molokai and the state, county of Maui, and a few private property owners retain the remaining 2% of the island.  The island is said to be down to less than 2000 residents since the slowdown in tourism to the island.

We live on the island of Hawaii, which has its share of billionaires who hide deep within the tripled gated Kukio complex and dine at the Four Seasons where the staff use code names to protect their identities.  We drive by their private jets parked in rows at the Kona airport.  The purchase of Lanai Island by Ellison is a whole new game in the rise of software billionaires and their private retreats.  Will he create an even more secure location for billionaires and their collections of private jets or will he use his substantial wealth to invest in the infrastructure required to resolve the barriers Hawaii has to becoming a major technology center in the Pacific?

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