You’ve really got to hand it to Oracle founder, multibillionaire, and sailor Larry Ellison: By letting his monopolistic impulses loose on his favorite sport, he’s well on his way to defending his own 2010 America’s Cup victory by driving all other prospective competitors out of business.
As highlighted in a June 4 New York Times article, the usual field of sailboat teams entering the America’s Cup has narrowed from about 15 to just four, with three months to go before the regatta officially begins on Sept. 7. One of those four teams, Artemis, has yet to confirm whether it will enter the race, following a tragic accident on May 9, in which a boat cracked up and a member of its crew, British Olympian Andrew Simpson, drowned. Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco, which went all out to help Ellison create a stunning venue on the city’s waterfront, now finds itself on the hook for expenses that a dozen or more race teams, their boathouse crews, and their fans were expected to help offset. Ellison, perhaps confusing contenders for the America’s Cup for cloud computing startups, has effectively bid every team up to a $100 million commitment most can ill afford.