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MySQL Cofounder Says Oracle Should Sell Database To a Neutral 3d Party 207

Posted by timothy
from the richard-stallman-agrees dept.
alphadogg writes "Oracle should resolve antitrust concerns over its acquisition of Sun Microsystems by selling open-source database MySQL to a suitable third party, its cofounder and creator Michael 'Monty' Widenius said in a blog post on Monday. Oracle's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun is currently being held up by an investigation by the European Commission. The Commission's main concern seems to be MySQL, which was acquired by Sun in January 2008 for $1 billion. A takeover by the world's leading proprietary database company of the world's leading open source database company compels the regulator to closely examine the effects on the European market, according to remarks made by Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes last month. The key objective by Widenius is to find a home outside Oracle for MySQL, where the database can be developed and compete with existing products, including Oracle's, according to Florian Mueller, a former MySQL shareholder who is currently working with Monty Program AB on this matter." Richard Stallman agrees.
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MySQL Cofounder Says Oracle Should Sell Database To a Neutral 3d Party

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  • Bring on the hate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekmansworld (950281) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#29810159) Homepage

    Okay, here goes... Maybe they should sell it to Apple?

    Yes, hate me, throw things at me. But Apple DOES love MySQL, it's an essential part of OS X Server. Unlike Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, Apple doesn't own an existing database product. Also keep in mind that MySQL the commercial product is not necessarily synonymous to MySQL the open-source project.

    Unfortunately, MySQL uses the GPL, whereas Apple has always preferred to open-source under the Apache license.

  • by indraneil (1011639) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:44PM (#29810203)
    There is already a fork [askmonty.org] that is being worked upon by Monty (who was the founder of MySQL) I suspect the real contention is over the brand MySQL (which has significant mind-share) which was transferred to SUN and will now go to Oracle.
    A lot of medium sized companies use MySQL today and have support contracts with who-so-ever owns the brand itself. They I guess are the ones who are worried - choosing another database is often not an option.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:45PM (#29810225) Journal
    It's GPL'd and requires copyright assignment. That means that whoever owns it can release it under whatever license they like, including using it in proprietary products, while everyone else can only use it if they abide by the terms of the GPL. Although, why anyone still cares about MySQL when there are better, more permissively licensed, alternatives available is beyond me.
  • by geekmansworld (950281) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:47PM (#29810267) Homepage

    The problem is that MySQL the company is a significant contributor to MySQL the project. Personally, I see a lot of value in MySQL, but lately the open-source community's love seems to be shifting to PostgreSQL. So I'm guessing that there's some question as to whether the MySQL project could go it alone without the resources the company provides.

  • by Kate6 (895650) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:56PM (#29810433) Homepage

    This makes me think of nVidia's purchase of 3dfx. 3dfx (makers of the famous Voodoo series of video cards) were very friendly to the open source community... They played a very pivotal role in the realm of 3D rendering on Linux when it was still in its infancy, contributing significantly to OpenGL. Then nVidia bought them and discontinued its entire product line... And something like 6 months later it was announced that nVidia won the contract to make the graphics chips on the original Microsoft X-Box. Coincidence?

    MySQL, by virtue of being an open source product available in a "community" version for free, has become a central part of the business model of countless small businesses. And it's just fallen into the ownership of its biggest closed-source, for-pay competitor. This could potentially have ramifications for the global economy as a whole. Very scary.

  • wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:02PM (#29810527) Homepage
    Someone paid $1 BILLION for a software company that made maybe a few million in revenue a year, and who already distribute most of the source code for their main product? Why?
  • by shoppa (464619) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#29810573)

    On several occasions I've been able to convince customers that MySQL was good enough but only because Oracle owned it:

    Here's an app, I'm using MySQL
    You can't use MySQL, we're an Oracle shop
    Oracle owns MySQL
    Well, then, that's OK then

  • by reashlin (1370169) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:05PM (#29810579)
    is MySQL really an alternative to Oracle?

    I mean sure it 'technically' is. But someone likely to use MySQL isnt looking for such an enterprise product such as Oracle and people looking to spend their money on Oracle can't/wont settle for MySQL. I thought this was basically what the EU said anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:09PM (#29810645)

    disclaimer: I work for Sun and know nothing about mysql...

    Here's what I don't get, Monte and company sell mysql to Sun for 1 billion dollars.
    I assume Monte got a decent portion of that.. I also assume that Monte had to
    sign a no compete agreement for that sum of money.

    I'm sure Sun would be more that happy to sell back mysql if
    the original owners would like to give the $1 billion back.. I'm
    guessing they wouldn't.

    I would bet Monte wouldn't even give his portion back. Could
    this be Monte trying to keep the money he got and try to get
    out of a non compete agreement? (if he did indeed sign one).

    Yes, I'm bitter... ;-) As the EU holds this up longer, more people
    @ Sun will lose jobs over political crap. If Oracle was based out
    of the EU this wouldn't have happened. I'm willing to wager if SAP
    wasn't based out of the EU, this wouldn't be delayed either...

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:36PM (#29811113)

    Indeed not, but with most open source products there is usually a trend upwards. PostgreSQL is already a better bet towards gaining capabilities rivaling Oracle eventually, but with enough development MySQL could have eventually made it that far too. You can bet now however, that the Oracle controlled MySQL code base will NEVER gain feature parity with the main Oracle DBMS. It'll be basically stuck now as the less featured, less capable freebie that Oracle gives away to customers hoping to get working relationships built up in order to sell them the more expensive product.

    Doesn't bother me much - at work they make me use Microsoft SQL Server and at home I stick to PostgreSQL, but still, it's sad to see a project like this end up in such a dead-end position.

  • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:39PM (#29811187)

    Exactly.

    He took the money.

    It had always been quasi open-source, and free to use, and he sold it to Sun. Now when it is acquired by a company who's only purpose for buying Sun was to kill this product and eat its heart he gets religion?

  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness.yahoo@com> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:52PM (#29811379) Homepage Journal
    ...is that if they keep it, it'll create Antitrust issues for them. So the suggestion is to sell it.

    Except, that's isn't exactly a good idea right now either. After all, they sold it to Sun for $1 Billion USD. What would it say if it Oracle/Sun sold it for less - even $900 Million USD? That MySQL wasn't worth $1 Billion USD; which would not be good PR for the F/OSS community, likely run afoul of Antitrust issues (for the PR reasons - especially if Oracle/Sun went - "see it mustn't have been all that good since we couldn't get what we paid for it"), but at least Oracle/Sun would get a tax write off on the difference.

    So then, why not kill two birds with one stone - spin MySQL off as its own company. Make it a non-profit (MySQL Foundation) or something; keep a seat or two of the board, and let the community fill the rest. Oracle could get very good PR for doing so too.
  • by turbidostato (878842) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @02:06PM (#29811617)

    "So basically, RMS is concerned that Oracle really would fork MySQL, and end the dual-licensing for any future versions they release."

    Where have you read that in RMS's letter?

    As I read it, RMS is concerned not because Oracle will close future MySQL development but because they will be the only ones that can profit from dual licensing MySQL and they won't do that because it would make it competing against their cash cow. Oracle would be much better served if they allow MySQL to slowly stagnate -and the point is that they can do it since noone else will be able to cash out the dual license path, than if they close the shop allowing for a faster substitution from another open alternative.

  • by twofishy (1658233) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @02:27PM (#29812023) Homepage
    Agree with this. I think though it is interesting to me that he has shown his hand so openly - I wonder if he suspects he's about to loose. Basically Monty made a ton of money selling MySQL to Sun (way more than it was worth) and has considerable vested interest in Oracle being forced to sell MySQL because, I guess, he wants to buy it back again. He has overseen a slew of measures that are designed to keep MySQL alive outside of Oracle including the MariaDB fork and formation the Open Database Alliance to unify all development. However MariaDB isn't getting much traction (and is not all that likely to do so) so getting the MySQL name back would be good - and potentially he could sell it to someone else again an another few years which would be a neat trick. By contrast the former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos - and the ex-head of Sun's database group - not only dismissed concerns over Oracle's ownership of MySQL but also called on the EU to approve Oracle's purchase of Sun. Eliison is on record as saying re MySQL "we are going to increase our rate of investment to that product." It seems to me that owning MySQL is a bit of a win/win for Oracle. It generates decent revenues for Sun and can do the same for Oracle. If they don't own it then they loose customers to open source. if they do then they simply have a low cost alternative to the full Oracle platform.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @03:34PM (#29813047)

    And this is different than MySQL has been for years?

    The commercial version of MySQL has always had more features than the GPL version.

    It is CURRENTLY stuck as the less featured, less capable freebie that Sun gives away. It sells the more feature rich version.

    The situation you describe as a concern is the situation that already exists. Funny part is, when MySQL went this route originally everyone bitched and moaned, RMS included. Now he's promoting it as a requirement for MySQLs survive.

    And people continue to follow him ... so sad.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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