We know so little about what new Lanai owner Larry Ellison wants to do with the island he recently purchased (well, 98 percent of it) that it’s funny to watch reporters fall over their tablet computers and linotype machines as they scramble to turn what vague, ambiguous remarks he does make into an actual narrative.
“Oracle CEO Larry Ellison envisions his recently acquired Hawaiian island becoming a ‘little laboratory’ for experimenting with more environmentally sound ways to live,” reported the Associated Press in a story the Oct. 3 Maui News put at the top of the front page. “Ellison’s ambitions include converting sea water into fresh water on the 141-square-mile island of Lanai. He also wants to see more electric cars on the island and hopes to increase its fruit exports to Japan and other markets.
You get all that? Desalination? Check. Electric cars? Check. More fruit sales to Japan? Check.
The AP got all that from television–specifically, an Oct. 2 interview Ellison gave to CNBC reporter Maria Bartiromo (click here to watch the interview). The Ellison segment runs nearly six and a half minutes, and Ellison spoke of his new island acquisition for about a single minute. He was all over the map, but I faithfully transcribed his words (well, not the “uhs,” which appear quite frequently) because getting our news from television is what us journalists do best.
Here’s Ellison in all his Lanai glory:
I love Hawaii and Lanai is a very interesting project. There what we’re going to do is turn Lanai into a model for sustainable enterprise. And what I mean by that is… on Lanai I own the water utility, the electric utility, and the electric utility is all gonna be solar–solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. We’re gonna convert seawater into fresh water and then have drip irrigation. We’re gonna have organic farms all over the island. Hopefully we’ll export produce–really the best organic produce–to Japan and elsewhere in the Hawaiian islands. We’re gonna support the local people and help them start these businesses. We’ll have electric cars. So it’s gonna be a little, if you will, laboratory for sustainability in businesses of small scale.
To which Bartiromo said simply, “Amazing, amazing.”
Right now Lanai is a very small town where about 3,000 people live, two luxury resorts and a lot of open space. Whether we actually see Ellison’s vision of an island utopia where organic farmers sipping desalinated water while zipping around their island checking their drip irrigation in electric cars juiced by photovoltaic cells come to reality is another story. In the same interview, Ellison said he also wanted to buy the Los Angeles Lakers, but they’re not currently for sale.
Photo of Larry Ellison: Ilan Costica/Wikimedia Commons