Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Even billionaires hate budgeting

Oracle titan Larry Ellison is famous for his conspicuous wealth enjoyment. At an Oracle conference I covered last fall, a reporter asked Ellison during the press Q&A about his recent purchase of some Malibu land, the cost of which I believe the reporter put at $180 million. (The always reliable Wikipedia calls the beachfront stretch "the largest single residential acquisition in United States history".) Ellison shrugged and said it's nice to have a bit of land on the water, and that he wasn't really sure how much it all cost. I mean, seriously. What busy mogul has time to keep track of pocket change like a few hundred million?

Seems Larry's accountant would like him to start balancing his checkbook more often. From a story in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

Like a concerned parent, [accountant Philip] Simon chides Ellison for overextending himself on a new yacht, on his America's Cup team and on his new houses in Woodside and Malibu.

"I'm worried, Larry ..." Simon wrote to Ellison in a 2002 e-mail. "I think it's imperative that we start to budget and plan."

Oh, Larry. I share your aversion to planned spending. First you're writing a cheese budget, and the next thing you know your financial advisors are telling you to knock off the impulse shopping for yachts. That's no way for civilized people to live!