Larry Ellison is America's highest-paid CEO, with an annual salary at Oracle software of $96.2 million plus stock options in 2012 alone of another $90.7 million. But try as he might, Ellison can't seem to buy success with all of that cash. Not only did he lose 22 percent of Oracle shareholders' returns in the past fiscal year, according to The New York Times, but he also is the driving force behind what an increasing number of critics call the most disastrous America's Cup in generations.
The 34th America's Cup opened last week in San Francisco with only one team, Emirates New Zealand, competing in the first race. The number of challengers for the Cup dwindled precipitously after Ellison — who won the Cup in 2010 and has the right to set the rules this year — changed the type of boats to 72-foot lightweight carbon-fiber multihulls that whip across the water and seem made for TV coverage. Originally, some 15 teams were expected to challenge for the Cup. The real number turned out to be three, mostly because of the staggering expense of funding these high-tech builds, which can top out around $10 million for research, development, materials and construction.