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MySQL Co-Founder Monty Widenius Quits Sun 140

Posted by timothy
from the good-luck-with-the-next-thing-monty dept.
BobB-nw writes "Michael 'Monty' Widenius, the original developer of the open-source MySQL database, has left Sun Microsystems and is starting his own company, Monty Program Ab, he said in a blog post Thursday. Widenius and Sun had a slightly rocky relationship since the vendor bought MySQL last year for $1 billion. In a much-discussed November blog post, he trashed Sun's decision to give MySQL 5.1 a 'generally available' designation, saying it was riddled with serious bugs. Meanwhile, Monty Program Ab will be 'a true open-source company,' with only a small number of employees who 'strive to have fun together and share the profit we create.' The company will work on the Maria project, a storage engine Widenius and others developed, he wrote.'"
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MySQL Co-Founder Monty Widenius Quits Sun

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  • Thank you, Monty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:00PM (#26743717) Homepage Journal
    I've been a fan of MySQL for several years, using it alongside other database platforms for a huge variety of tasks. I appreciate the hard work that has gone into MySQL, regardless of the never-ending flamewars on this-platform-or-that-is-superior. Yeah, I use Postgresql a lot these days, but I also still use MySQL.

    I wish him all the best with his new venture, and look forward to seeing what sort of stuff he comes up with next.
    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:18PM (#26744035) Homepage Journal

      Most open source databases have a niche for which they are unquestionably "the best". I believe MySQL's niche has changed over the years, but there is no question in my mind that it is superior to any other database at those specific tasks.

      Likewise, Postgres, Ingres, Firebird, SQLite, QDBM, etc, are all good at their own thing. I really can't imagine anyone running a website from Ingres, but then I can't imagine anyone running a high-end scientific database through MySQL, trying to do relational work through QDBM, or running a single table database on Postgres.

      Different horses for different courses. (NB: The expression does NOT originate in France.)

      • but then I can't imagine anyone running a high-end scientific database through MySQL

        I can. We're developing a Qt-based client-server system for reading out sensors and (off-the-shelf) measurement instruments in a scientific institute. The backend is MySQL. Completely relational (InnoDB) setup except for the full-text search table which is filled with stored procedures.

        I'm not saying MySQL would be my first choice if I'd have to do it again, however it works fine, has all the features we need and is easy to use.

    • Re:Thank you, Monty. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tcopeland (32225) <tom&thomasleecopeland,com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:32PM (#26744257) Homepage

      > Yeah, I use Postgresql a lot these days, but I also still use MySQL.

      I'm a big fan of PostgreSQL; I recently upgraded RubyForge to PostgreSQL 8.3 [blogs.com] and have been quite happy with the performance.

      That said, I kind of feel like MySQL still has an edge on PostgreSQL in terms of replication - I know Slony is out there, but my perception of it is that it doesn't handle schema changes easily, and MySQL replication via binary log shipping is pretty straightforward. I hear the PostgreSQL guys are working on something for out of the box replication though, so we'll see....

    • Mind explaining why? Here, we use SQLite for apps with small numbers of users and small DB size. We use Postgres for large or high load databases. So where is the niche for MySQL?

      • People using canned frameworks that target MySQL?

      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:02PM (#26745523) Journal

        So where is the niche for MySQL?

        Slashdot.

      • Re:Thank you, Monty. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:08PM (#26746289) Homepage Journal
        I like the replication features for some tasks, and a lot of common "off the shelf" open source apps are intended for use with MySQL as the backend. Yeah, in a lot of cases you *could* use something else, but I'm already got a few MySQL servers running in virtual machines. It's really just a matter of convenience.

        For anything that's going to be really compute-intensive, I don't usually use "any of the above," as I prefer to use a relational database only as a data warehouse, with large chunks of data being loaded into processing programs as big hash tables. In many cases, I'm able to process information many orders of magnitude faster by keeping it all in local memory under the umbrella of the program that's doing the calculations. These are special use cases, however, and don't apply to general database tasks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DiegoBravo (324012)

        > So where is the niche for MySQL?

        See for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Internet_forum_software_(PHP)#Data_storage [wikipedia.org]

      • People who want no-nonsense, straightforward replication.

  • Sounds like a plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:00PM (#26743721)

    The same has happened to the Blogger founders after they were bought by Google. If you're a startup guy working for a 20,000 employee company is not going to cut it. And to make things worse you won't have control over the product you created anymore.

    I'm surprised it took him so long to quit.

    --
    Can you say, piece of shit [mailto]?

    • I have an odd urge to send mail to that address in your sig, if only to inquire as to how a specimen of defecated material managed to land a gig at Google in these troubled economic times.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      MySQL had been out of startup mode for many years, and Widenius probably had a lot more control over the development of MySQL than Blogger's founders had over their baby.

      That said, there is an obvious disconnect between MySQL's laid-back, decentralized corporate culture and Sun's bureaucratic, highly politicized management.

      • by htnmmo (1454573) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:30PM (#26745147) Homepage

        I'm not an insider on either camp and I've been mostly using postgresql on my own projects.

        But my sense is that Sun kept wanting to go opensource but MySQL wanted to directly monetize the product and not just be a free add on to sell hardware and other services.

        This seemed to happen early on when MySQL announced some new features would not be opensourced shortly after acquisition, then Schwartz came back and spanked them into place.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fm6 (162816)

          I hadn't heard that (don't follow MySQL issues, even though I work at Sun) but it makes sense. JIS has been open sourcing other key software products (Solaris, Java), claiming that this would help him (as you say) sell hardware and services. He had to overcome a lot of resistance and skepticism to do this. He'd look really dumb if he allowed one prominent new acquisition to deviate from this model.

        • Well, the thing is the rift was in MySql before the Sun acquisition. Monty versus Mårten. Developer vs Business guy. It was Mårten who wanted to introduce enterprise for pay only features. Monty was hoping that the acquisition would swing the power to the developer side and open up the dev process. It seems Sun isn't willing to go as far as Monty would like fast enough. But it seems its too far for Mårten as he has also left Sun.
      • by mysidia (191772)

        I would think the smart thing to do with an acquisition like MySQL would be to more or less give them a budget and let them keep doing what they're doing, under their same management, and let them continue to deliver more of the value that they bought them to obtain, with a little influence over their development agenda.

        The MySQL name is part of what makes it worth so much, and for Sun to dissipate its reputation and its management more or less kills half the worth of owning it.

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:42PM (#26744451)

      Meanwhile, Monty Program Ab will be 'a true open-source company,' with only a small number of employees who 'strive to have fun together and share the profit we create.'

      Until his product becomes HUGE and he sells his company to Sun again...

    • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:14PM (#26744957)

      If you're a startup guy working for a 20,000 employee company is not going to cut it. And to make things worse you won't have control over the product you created anymore.

      I'm surprised it took him so long to quit.

      You don't get it. When your start-up is acquired by big corp, it is usually their demand you stick for at least a year, instead of dumping your crap and taking a run with the money, which I'm sure he would have preferred. He did the year, finished his obligations, and leaves. Nothing to see, please move along.

    • by Rolgar (556636)

      It may have been in his contract that he stay on for a year?

      My uncle sold his insurance agency for 7 figures, but has to run the place for 3 years before he can retire.

  • "The company will work on the Malaria project, a storage engine Widenius and others developed, he wrote."

  • Queue Sun preventing him from doing this with some sort of anti-compete clause in 5,4,3...
  • sorry. (Score:4, Funny)

    by thhamm (764787) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:13PM (#26743953)
    what? monty burns blocks the sun? --- excellent!
  • A Monty Utopia? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:16PM (#26743995) Homepage

    Meanwhile, Monty Program Ab will be 'a true open-source company,' with only a small number of employees who 'strive to have fun together and share the profit we create.'

    This is all good until real money starts pouring in and someone wants/needs more money or claims they are more deserving than another or something along those lines. Then the "fun" arrangement becomes less fun and more bitter. Other things that can spoil the fun are if someone decides to wear only black turtlenecks or attempts to make himself into a god of some sort.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      This is all good until real money starts pouring in and someone wants/needs more money or claims they are more deserving than another or something along those lines. Then the "fun" arrangement becomes less fun and more bitter.

      And then Monty sells the company and IP to some big firm that likes the big money that's pouring in, and after a suitable transition period quits and goes on starts some other venture with like-minded folks for fun.

      And I doubt Monty is going to be hurting for money, himself, if he keep

  • What about Drizzle? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wee (17189) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:18PM (#26744029)
    I'm curious as to why he didn't hitch up with the Drizzle guys. It sounds like he's intending to do exactly what Drizzle is doing. Surely he could have leveraged their efforts and they almost certainly would benefit from having Monty and his team around...

    -B
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:26PM (#26744173)

    Monty Program Ab will be 'a true open-source company,' with only a small number of employees who 'strive to have fun together and share the profit we create.'

    Startup: Check
    1 out of 10 companies last the first year.

    No dependable revenue stream: Check
    You don't make money making Open Source Software, you make money supporting it / consulting services, packaging and distribution. Making software is expensive. Being a 'a true open-source company,' leads to little teeth to get a good competitive advantage.

    Focus on Employee Happiness not productiveness: Check
    Yea a productive employee is a Happy Employee, But a Happy Employee doesn't make them productive. Unfortunatly with work there are always the stinker jobs thar are not fun. You can't expect work to always be fun and to have fun at work.

    Profit Sharing: Check
    If you work harder then everyone else you should deserve more. But how to you fairly determine who is worth what. Bob program may make a lot of money. But bill spends his time helping out Bob in his product.

    Small Size: Check
    A Small company against the big guys. It will take a while to gain trust. If you start out big(ish) then you can actually get some automatic cred.

    Starting in a bad economy: Check
    Where is funding going to start how will you get a loan. If he does get one the banks are stupider then I thought.

    • by milamber3 (173273) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:36PM (#26744325)

      Yeah, if I had to pick anyone to fail it would be the guy who cofounded MySQl and sold it for a billion dollars. You nailed it, I'm sure nothing his startup does will be successful or be worth money.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:49PM (#26744547)

        He filled a Gap in the market at the time. It is like getting stuck by lightning, Chances of filling that gap again is slim. MySQL success was that it wasn't a Full Open Source company. It had a closed Source branch too, which actually made the money (a business model).
        Secondly it was made in a good economy, Dot Com boom period, where there was a need to get a good but affordable Rational Database system, Most of the guys at the time were very expensive, and not suited for lightweight databases needed for the web.
        Third Linux, Apache, PHP success in the web market, putting MySQl in the middle of it.

        Past success doesn't guarantee future success. And if you did make a lot of money you may get a big head and not focus clearly. Like most companies 2 parts luck to 1 part strategy.

        • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:59PM (#26744683) Journal

          to get a good but affordable Rational Database system,

          "Relational." "Rational" isn't a word that's often applied to MySQL.

          • "Relational." "Rational" isn't a word that's often applied to MySQL.

            Come to think of it, "Relational." isn't either :D

        • by trawg (308495)

          Past success doesn't guarantee future success.

          Nope, but neither does it mean its doomed to fail. There's plenty of startups out there that probably aren't headed by Monty, but I know which one I'd be leaning towards if I was throwing money around!

          • No it doesn't mean that it is doomed, however you should get worried when a Tech Guy runs a business off of Tech Guy Principals, it smells of the Dot Com Era again. I would actually be happy if I am wrong, and it is a success, however it doesn't look like a good business model to me.

        • actually though, he's starting in a good point.

          First, he sold his company for a billion dollars! He doesn't need a loan. He can pay employees cash.

          Companies need time to develop a good product.. jumping the gun is really bad. Good thing we're in a recession and companies aren't throwing around cash. That's a good thing because they can make a quality product.. find a good niche and get strong about the same time this recession starts to thaw!

          The people planning and building new, exciting companies now, w

        • by mysidia (191772)

          We don't have enough information to judge. He knows more about his chances of success, because he knows more about the product he wants to develop, and what market he wants to develop for, and what part of that market will be willing to pay the most for it.

          Just because past success doesn't guarantee future success doesn't indicate he doesn't know what he's doing.

      • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:45PM (#26745315) Journal

        You need to read your prospectuses: "Past performance is no indicator of future success."

        Monty's not the golden goose; he will not lay golden eggs each time he squats. He is not the child of destiny, the master of The Street, the database Messiah. He's just a very naughty boy. Ok, maybe not. But he is a guy who created a good product, sold it to desperate overcapitalized suckers, and jumped ship just before the balloon collapsed and sent the economy screaming "Oh the Humanity" into the ground.

        I wouldn't even credit him with a good sense of timing, if he thinks this is the time for a startup like he's proposing.

        We shall see.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mabhatter654 (561290)

          It's an excellent time for a startup if you have cash... he sold MySQL for a billion dollars!

          Even Steve Jobs said "cash is king" just last week. Monty will be able to get whatever he needs cheaper than last year. Remember, that it takes 2-5 years to be an "overnight" success like the first MySql had. Recession is the perfect time to build a company if you can float the start up capital.

          • Starting in a recession also means you've a good chance of beng ready for release about the time the economy's picking up.
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Some think he failed in the morality department, slowly squeezing out the 'free' and then finally selling out.

        Money doesn't make you a good person.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lonewolf666 (259450)

      Starting in a bad economy: Check
      Where is funding going to start how will you get a loan. If he does get one the banks are stupider then I thought.

      Why should he need a loan? He got 1 billion from selling his last company. He can use some of that as venture capital for his new project

    • Startups (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sjbe (173966) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:31PM (#26745877)

      I've started a number of companies and you're saying a bunch of stuff that isn't really accurate.

      You don't make money making Open Source Software, you make money supporting it / consulting services, packaging and distribution. Making software is expensive.

      Actually making software can be pretty cheap, relatively speaking. Engineering costs for any pure software company are 10%-25% of total costs. Most of the cost is actually in sales, marketing, and administration. Don't take my word for it - look up the income statement of any publicly traded software company from Microsoft on down.

      Being a 'a true open-source company,' leads to little teeth to get a good competitive advantage.

      That doesn't necessarily have to be true at all. If you are the developer of a given piece of software and if companies will pay for services relating to that software, the primary developer is in the best position to provide those services since no one knows the software better. Furthermore it is impossible to undercut open source software on price so deep pockets don't help the big guy like they might if the company depended on revenue via a traditional software business model. Once the software is installed companies find it expensive to switch platforms which can mean recurring revenue and barriers to entry. That's certainly the basis for competitive advantage though not any assurance of such advantage.

      If you work harder then everyone else you should deserve more.

      Deserve? Maybe, but maybe not. The party that takes the most financial risk is who deserves and will get the most reward or take the biggest losses. Hard work is a factor but not even close to the biggest one. You don't make the biggest bucks unless you have the most skin in the game.

      A Small company against the big guys. It will take a while to gain trust. If you start out big(ish) then you can actually get some automatic cred.

      A guy with a track record of starting successful organizations (like MySQL) often gets to skip this step. The hardest company to start is usually the first one because no investor knows who the hell you are and they certainly don't trust you. Plus pretty much no one starts off big. Only guys with a track record are able to raise the large dollar amounts necessary to start "big".

      Where is funding going to start how will you get a loan. If he does get one the banks are stupider then I thought.

      Very, very few startups get funding from a bank. Banks want tangible assets as collateral for the money they loan and startups rarely have such assets. Usually funding comes from friends, family, angels [wikipedia.org], private equity, venture capital, government small business loans and various other sources. Banks, not so much.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      I would reason to guess MySQL AB had most of those things going against it to... look how that turned out?

      MySQL wasn't successful by random chance, they had a good idea, and provided better options to suit a common demand than what was available at the time.

      However, open source OSes are so mature now, that it would be a lot harder for a project to reach the critical mass MySQL has.

      I'm sure they'll have some great fun, whatever the outcome, and their chances of hitting the jackpot are better than bu

  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:27PM (#26744179)
    Seems to me as CO-founder he would have had to approve such a move and even if he did perhaps to make some stipulations on future development instead of constantly being in that 'rocky road' development.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PylonHead (61401)

      Maybe it was the one billion dollars they offered?

      • i understand that - but being the co-founder there were no stipulations of how MySQL were to be maintained in the future? seems to me he would have wanted to make sure all his hard work would not have gone down the drain to brain-dead decisions.
        • i understand that - but being the co-founder there were no stipulations of how MySQL were to be maintained in the future?

          Again, $1 billion buys a lot. Even a very small fraction of that (don't know how much Monty got) means you can easily quit and do your own thing (as Monty is) if you don't like what your new employer is doing; its pretty easy to see why taking the money without stipulations rather than imposing stipulations which would have scuttled the deal or reduced the value to Sun could easily make

          • Maybe Sun will start to lay people off now and offer them jobs of a lifetime in china and india like IBM announced this week(im surprised this didnt make it on slashdot, maybe i should submit a story)
  • by BlindSpot (512363) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:47PM (#26744523)

    Why didn't he go all the way and name it "Monty Program's Flying Code Circus"?!

    • by arndawg (1468629)

      Why didn't he go all the way and name it "Monty Program's Flying Code Circus"?!

      I think Python already took out a patent for that. Sorry!

  • by tjstork (137384)

    I'm sorry, as I really like MySQL, but, Monty's just taking his billion dollars and trashing Sun as a cover. The bugs that he talks about, that he complains about, all have dates back to 2001... so, he could have fixed that stuff before Sun even bought him out. The bottom line is, Monty's pointing the finger at Sun when the reality is, he's probably doesn't want to work for anyone other than himself, and is just looking for an excuse to cash out. If he would just say that, I think everyone would get it,

  • Auf Wiedersehen Monty!
  • by larien (5608)
    This is something I wondered at the time. Sun paid a lot of money (~$1B) for a free database, even after they'd been bundling Postgres on Solaris 10 (you now get both Postgres & MySQL on the latest release of Solaris 10, FWIW).

    Having chatted to some people at work, the concensus seems to be that it was primarily to piss off Oracle; "look, we can do databases too, we don't need you". So, Oracle have gotten into bed with HP & linux, just to spite Sun after having largely given Sun "favoured OS" st

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This is something I wondered at the time. Sun paid a lot of money (~$1B) for a free database, even after they'd been bundling Postgres on Solaris 10 (you now get both Postgres & MySQL on the latest release of Solaris 10, FWIW).

      Having chatted to some people at work, the concensus seems to be that it was primarily to piss off Oracle; "look, we can do databases too, we don't need you". So, Oracle have gotten into bed with HP & linux, just to spite Sun after having largely given Sun "favoured OS" status

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Sure, but $1 Billion is one hell of a lot of goodwill. Besides, they'll only keep the staff as long as they treat them right (and the economy is in the shitter). That's doesn't mean just money. These are superior quality developers who need to be working on innovative, challenging projects. I suppose they got some infrastructure guys, and perhaps even a Marketing guy or two, I don't know what MySQL had in terms of labour, but the majority of it would have been very technical.
        • MySQL AB was very roughly half engineers... the other half were sales/marketing, accounts, legal etc. with sales/marketing being the next largest group.

  • His reason for leaving was allegedly a lack of career postresqlon.
  • Hypocrite? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:45PM (#26746027) Homepage Journal

    Isn't this the guy who moved MySQL towards a commercial end before SUN stepped in and bought them?

    Sounds to me like its all good and well, unless its someone else that is getting most of the cash.

    If he wasn't the driving force behind it, then forget what i just said.

  • by DavonZ (13344) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:52PM (#26746101) Homepage

    I have to admit that I am glad to see him leave Sun. I am developing an Open Source POS system and originally I was using MySQL as the database. I sent an email to MySQL about distribution questions and was then contacted by different sales people trying to talk me out of Open Sourcing my project. "Do you really want you competitors to have your POS code"... "How are you going make money off of Open Source". I felt bullied.

    Understand that MySQL is only GPL (Free) if everything touching it is also GPL (or internal use only). If we distribute it with MySQL and make it commercial, we need to pay yearly for MySQL ($$$). That is understood when dealing with GPL software. Just don't try and talk me out of GPL'ing my code to line your pockets. Business models like this hurt the Open Source community and don't promote Open Source software!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I have to admit that I am glad to see him leave Sun. I am developing an Open Source POS system and originally I was using MySQL as the database. I sent an email to MySQL about distribution questions and was then contacted by different sales people trying to talk me out of Open Sourcing my project. "Do you really want you competitors to have your POS code"... "How are you going make money off of Open Source". I felt bullied.

      Understand that MySQL is only GPL (Free) if everything touching it is also GPL (or in

      • by jadavis (473492)

        Remember that MySQL AB was a profitable company

        They were? Can you provide a link?

        • Remember that MySQL AB was a profitable company

          They were? Can you provide a link?

          Unfortunately, I cannot because MySQL AB was not a publicly traded company.

          But I was an employee of MySQL ... although I cannot give specific details, you can be pretty certain that Sun Microsystems wasn't going to put down $1bn in cash for a company which was burning through it's VC funding.

          If MySQL AB wasn't acquired by Sun, there was enough cash in the bank that they would definitely still be here today... and next year too,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Martin Mickos, the old CEO and Current Sun Database Technology Group SVP is leaving too.

    Damn! He will be missed.

  • Last time I checked the term was "General Availability". Generally available sounds more like it'd be hit-or-miss downloading it...
  • by wdr1 (31310) *

    You know that part where you quote something he said in his blog? Yeah, a link would have been nice there.

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