By Juan Wilson on 21 June 2012 for Island Breath -
Image above: For the first time in 15 years the America's Cup race is won by an American, Larry Ellison’s incredible “sailboat from the future”. From (http://justinchandoblog.com/tag/33rd-americas-cup/).
Definition: ORACLE - a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements on the future.It's likely you have already heard that Lanai was sold to an American billionaire and CEO of Oracle Corporation. My take is that there are good and bad things to flow from this deal. The following is my hypothetical view inside Larry Ellison's head. But first some background. Larry Ellison founded Oracle in the 1970's. It is second only to MicroSoft as the largest software company in the world. Larry has been it's CEO since 1977. That is an unparalleled accomplishment in itself. Ellison was a close friend of Steve Jobs and a longtime member of the board of director's of Apple. In short, Larry is a brilliant forward looking person - an oracle. He's been making the future happen for over 40 years. What's he doing now?
Larry's been testing his own America Cup racing boats in the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 his team won back the America's Cup from foreign domination for the first time in 15 years. Now he's buying an privately held island in the most remote land mass on Earth (Hawaii - a strategic hub of American Empire). He knows better than most what's coming in the future. I suspect this purchase is an effort by Ellison to create a lifeboat for himself, his loved ones and friends. Larry is leaving the Titanic. Too bad Bill Gates - you chose to get married on Lanai in 1994 and might have seen this coming; but it looks like you missed the boat.
I'm sure Ellison will want Lanai to be ready to weather the likely collapse scenarios he can foresee. That means plenty of investment on Lanai for self-reliance and self-sufficiency. We are not likely to see the current "Big Wind" plan to erect 400 power generating windmills to sell power to Honolulu stay intact. I'm sure Larry will go with solar and wind generating systems, but Lanai's needs will come first. If someone wants to put up another billion for selling power to Honolulu that could happen... as long as it doesn't interfere with Larry's comfort.
More over, I suspect Ellison will send what is necessary to make Lanai a better place to live than it is now. That would include conservation, preservation, re-forestation - even terraformation. With his deep pockets the sky is the limit. There will be plenty of useful work on the island. Ranching, and dairy farming, vegetable growing, fruit orchards and timber forests are obvious areas of concentration. Less obvious are the needs for metal, wood working and fabric shops as well as a shipwright's facility for keeping his private fleet of sailboats operational. The few thousand local people who still live on Lanai (and still own less than 2% of the land) may in time see themselves as privileged to live on an island facing the future with a realistic plan.
The dark side of Larry Ellison's vision is that he is building a lifeboat for himself and a few others that can afford the entry price of admission (a $billion?). It will be a stratified society much like the Hawaiian plantations of the past. There will be some middle class allowed on board Larry's lifeboat: Doctor's, engineers, ship captains, agronomists, vintners, etc. The rest will be, by and large, and in affect, plantation workers. At least they'll have room and board in the company town. And I'm sure Larry will want everybody to get along as well as possible.
If I'm right, Lanai will be lucky in that there will be a real comprehensive plan for the island. The rest of Hawaii is stumbling forward without any plan. The island with the next best chance of preparing anything for the storm ahead is Molokai. Molokai does not have a great reliance on tourism, GMO companies or the military. It has a tradition if Hawaiian independence. It still has a vibrant fishing and farming culture. Kauai and the Big Island have meager chance of weathering economic collapse simply because they have low populations and are isolated from Oahu and Maui's suburban sprawl. Maui and Oahu are likely lost to convulsive events.
Larry Ellison's Island
By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher on 20 June 2012 for The Huffington Post -
Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has reached a deal to buy 98 percent of the island of Lanai from its current owner, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday.
The land's owner, Castle & Cooke Inc., filed a transfer application with the state's public utilities commission, which regulates utilities on the island that serve its two resorts.
The sale price for the property, which comprises the vast majority of the island's 141 square miles, was not immediately clear. Lawyers for the seller redacted a copy of the sale agreement signed May 2, saying it includes confidential information that would competitively hurt Ellison and the seller if disclosed. The Maui News previously reported the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million.
Self-made billionaire David Murdock, who owns Castle & Cooke, said he would keep his home on Lanai and the right to build a wind farm, a controversial project that would place windmills on as many as 20 square miles of the island and deliver power to Oahu through an undersea cable.
Murdock said in a statement that selling Lanai was not an impulsive decision, but he has been looking for a buyer who would have the right enthusiasm, commitment and respect for the island's residents.
"I have learned in life that change is inevitable and can be quite positive when guided in the right direction," Murdock said.
Attempts to reach a representative for Ellison through Oracle were not successful after business hours Wednesday.
Ellison co-founded the Redwood City, Calif.-based business software company in 1977. Forbes ranks him as the world's sixth-richest person, with a net worth of $36 billion as of March.
Abercrombie said Ellison has had a longstanding interest in the island.
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa wished Murdock well and said he looks forward to meeting Ellison.
The deal involves 88,000 acres of land, plus two resorts, two golf courses, a stable and various residential and commercial buildings, lawyers for Murdock told the utilities commission in its application.
Ellison plans to pay cash, and the deal should result in new jobs, economic stimulus and a reinvigorated local tourism industry, the application said.
"The buyer anticipates making substantial investments in Lanai and is looking forward to partnering with the people of Lanai to chart the island's future," Castle & Cooke lawyers said in the application.
Lanai is Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible inhabited island, with some 3,200 residents. It is known as the "pineapple island" even though Murdock closed its pineapple operations to make way for luxury resort and home development. The majority of the island was once owned by James Dole of Dole Food Company Inc., who bought it in 1922.
Murdock bought out fellow Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million in 2000 and took the company private.
The island boasts unspoiled charm with 30 miles of paved roads, 400 miles of unpaved roads and no traffic lights. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 26,000 people visited the island from January to April of this year, a 6 percent decline from the same period last year.
The utilities commission is reviewing the prospective deal because it involves indirectly transferring public utilities Castle & Cooke owns on the island – a water company, a bus and shuttle service, and the island's wastewater utility. Castle & Cooke asked for interim approval by June 26.
Hawaii law requires commission approval to transfer public utilities, and the commission will try to make its decision by that date, said Sean Mikell of the PUC's research division, which is considering the application. The commission does not have jurisdiction over the sale of the island, aside from the transfer of public utilities.
J. Kalani English, a state senator who represents Lanai in Hawaii's Legislature, said he's hopeful the sale to Ellison will mean a return of agriculture to the island.
"I'm relieved because he's one of the richest people on the planet, which means he knows he'll lose a lot of money in the beginning and he can sustain that," said English, a Democrat.
English said Ellison has been known to vacation on Lanai.
Robin Kaye, president of Friends of Lanai, said he wasn't surprised to hear who the buyer is because Ellison's name has been floating around the island lately.
Before Murdock announced he would keep wind farm rights on the island, Kaye said he hoped Ellison wouldn't pursue the project.
"Lanai is worth more than supplying power to Oahu," Kaye said.
Seventh-generation Lanaian Sol Kahoohalahala said he hopes to see an end to high unemployment and more opportunities for economic development beyond tourism.
"I look at this as a potential opportunity for us to get the new owner to look at Lanai in terms of an island that needs to work at sustaining itself," he said. "Tourism cannot be the only economic engine on Lanai."
Kahoohalaha's family managed to hold on to some Lanai land. The 2 percent Ellison isn't buying is owned by the state, county and private residents.