In his early years at Oracle, Larry Ellison was named an Award Recipient in the High Technology Category for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Program.In 1994, Informix overtook Sybase and became Oracle's most important rival.Ellison resigned in 2002, saying "my schedule does not currently allow me to attend enough of the formal board meetings to warrant a role as a director".With the defeat of Informix and of Sybase, Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft SQL Server in the late 1990s and IBM's acquisition of Informix Software in 2001 to complement their DB2 database.Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on Unix and Windows operating systems.
Ellison would later say that Oracle had made "an incredible business mistake".
Ellison was inspired by a paper written by Edgar F.
Codd on relational database systems called "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks".
In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% of its workforce (about 400 people) because it was losing money.
This crisis, which almost resulted in the company's bankruptcy, came about because of Oracle's "up-front" marketing strategy, in which sales people urged potential customers to buy the largest possible amount of software all at once.