Save MySQL: Getting Some Facts Straight

I’d like to clear up some misconceptions that have appeared in comments on various blogs, social bookmarking, and other fora in response to Monty’s recent call for action. Many of these have been repeated ad infinitum and it’s time to set the record straight.

I’d like to clear up some misconceptions that have appeared in comments on various blogs, social bookmarking, and other fora in response to Monty’s recent call for action. Many of these have been repeated ad infinitum and it’s time to set the record straight.

1). Monty sold MySQL to Sun.

Monty founded MySQL Ab along with David Axmark. True. He and David then decided they’d like to pay their bills, and so to generate revenue, they decided to seek outside investors. As neither of them is highly experienced with such matters, they hired Mårten Mickos, who became CEO of MySQL Ab. At that point, Monty’s role in day-to-day business decision making dropped to almost zero. If any one person “sold MySQL to Sun,” it was Mårten.

This is not to say Mårten acted against Monty’s express wishes. Monty had great hopes for Sun’s stewardship of MySQL, and only became disillusioned after some time actually working for Sun. Mårten did the job Monty and David hired him to do, and in no way should my sentiments be construed as “blaming” Mårten. But saying it was Monty’s decision to sell to Sun is patently wrong. It was Mårten’s decision in concert with the outside investors he had courted.

2). Monty should live with the consequences of the sale.

Let’s use an analogy here.

Let’s say that Red Hat‘s investors and stockholders approve a deal to sell Red Hat to Google. (And just for fun, let’s assume one of the results is rebranding Red Hat Enterprise Linux as Red Goo. It’s my analogy.)

I think Mark Ewing and Bob Young would probably be satisfied with that decision, especially if it paid them well. This was the case with Monty and the sale of MySQL Ab to Sun.

Now let’s say that after a few years, Google is acquired by Microsoft.

Would Mark and Bob be pleased about the possible prospects for Red Goo? Would you tell them, “This is what happens when you sell a company?” Or would you, quite rightly, start being concerned about the future of one of the most important Linux distributions? And would you feel that Mark and Bob had reason to voice their concerns and try to do the best they could to serve their community of users, developers, and customers?

Even if you thought Microsoft had the best intentions for Red Goo, it doesn’t mean Mark and Bob have to agree with you. Even if you believe that Oracle has the best intentions for MySQL, that doesn’t mean Monty has to agree with you.

3). Monty got PAID! He’s rich, man! He sold MySQL Ab for a BILLION!

Monty has more money than me. He probably has more money than you. But remember, MySQL had investors. MySQL Ab had Mårten. To think Monty received US$1Bn is foolish. To think he received even a tenth of that is a mistake.

Yes, Monty got a payday. But it wasn’t what a lot of people think it was.

4. Monty sold his business, and now he just wants to get it all back for free!

Part one? True. Part two? Not so much.

Monty’s business was sold. He has now started a new business (Monty Program) and employs a lot of the former MySQL coders, as well as strange Free Software wonks (that’s me, for those of you keeping score at home). We all work on MariaDB, a fork of MySQL that does not have a pay-for “Enterprise Edition” and that actively seeks great contributions from the wider open source community.

Let’s say that Oracle buys Sun, and completely trashes MySQL. Who benefits?

Monty Program.

MariaDB will immediately become the de facto replacement in most Linux distros and in the minds of most people.

Let’s say Oracle has to sell the MySQL unit as part of the remedy for the EC’s concerns. Monty can’t buy it. As I said, he’s got money, but not that kind of money. And who would get hurt if Oracle sells it or does a great job stewarding the project in the future?

Monty Program.

Now, I like getting a paycheck. I want Monty Program to succeed so that my wife and I aren’t eating out of cat food tins at the bus station. But I also like principled people that care, really care, about the projects they love. And that’s why Monty is potentially hurting our business prospects by raising his concerns with the European Commission. He cares about the code he has worked on for 27 years. He cares about the companies that have built a business on that code. And he cares about the users of that code; be they Fortune 50 companies or your teenage brother running WordPress.

Part of me wants to slap Monty. I want our company to become the standard. Now.

Part of me wants to kiss Monty. He’s the kind of dedicated and thoughtful steward any project deserves.

Paul McCullagh discussed this thoughtfully on his blog this week.

5. Anyone can fork. You did. What’s the big deal?

Two words. “Embedded solutions.”

A lot of companies have embedded MySQL into products they sell. They’re not interested in releasing their entire software stack under the GPL. They buy licenses from Sun (and formerly from MySQL Ab) to allow them to embed MySQL into their products and not have to release all their source.

MariaDB, or any other fork, will never be able to offer this. Ever. We forked the GPL version, and so will anyone else. Your code depends on our code and you’re selling it to any interested party? You have to GPL every bit of code you sell.

I said it in my last post, and I’ll say it again. Forking saves the code. It does not save the business.

And as I also said before, and will reiterate, if Oracle is so certain that forks are the answer, why didn’t they just do that months ago and save themselves the headache? They could have forked MySQL, taken MySQL off the table, and avoided this whole EC inquiry. They didn’t. Think about that.

6). Just use Postgres.

Sure. Go tell Google that. Or Amazon. Or eBay. Or Craigslist. Or any ISP depending on cPanel to ease customer usage of internals.

Postgres is a great project. It delivers a a fantastic database server. I have a lot of people in the Postgres community I consider friends. So does Monty. And you know what, those people would be among the first to tell you that migrating to or from one database to another is not an easy task for large deployments with thousands of lines of customized code. They’d also tell you that Postgres is superior to MySQL for some things, and MySQL is superior to Postgres for others.

“Just switch to Postgres,” is not a solution for many people, primarily businesses that have built their products on top of MySQL.

Now, can we move beyond these issues to the larger issue at hand? If you think Oracle’s proposed acquisition of MySQL is probably going to turn out badly for the Free Software and open source communities, read Monty’s blog post and act. If you think it’s a tempest in a teacup, I respect your right to your opinion. Please respect Monty’s right, and if you wish to engage people on the subject, keep the preceding points in mind.

36 thoughts on “Save MySQL: Getting Some Facts Straight”

  1. The dual open and proprietary licensing strategy that Mysql AB followed leads directly into the situation that embedded users now face. Its the proprietary license that is the problem. What guarantees were put in place in proprietary licensing terms that Monty AB offered its clients in terms of code access and rights to created derivative works at need? Why did cPanel and the others not do their due diligence to make sure the licensing terms they contracted under met their long term needs even in the case where MySQL AB no longer was in business or the MySQL product line was discontinued?

    Shame on MySQL AB for requiring contributors sign over copyrights giving themselves the sole ability to re-license. Shame on MySQL AB for using that privilege to offer a proprietary license that locked-in enterprise customers into a sole vendor support relationship. Shame on those enterprise customers for letting themselves be locked in to a license that makes them beholden to a single 3rd party vendor for support. And shame on Monty for not calling attention to the problems with privileged vendor dual-licensing business model when MySQL AB was the vendor with sole copyright ownership to the codebase.

    The lesson here for embedded and other MySQL AB proprietary licensing customers is that if you choose to rely on a proprietary license for any software from a 3rd party vendor then you can be put over a barrel later if you have not secured the rights to make derivative works of the codebase when your software vendor has a change of heart concerning its product lineup. If the clients understood that the GPL didn’t work for them long term.. then why didn’t they understand the risks of using the commercial licensing option?

    Monty AB’s business model was built on Monty AB being given preferential rights to re-license the code as the sole copyright holder of the codebase. And those preferential rights were sold to Sun and are going to be passed on to Oracle. That ability to re-license is exactly the valuable commodity that Monty AB sold to Sun… it is the heart of the business model that MySQL AB pursued. To suggest that now that those exclusive rights are any more problematic for commercial licensees in the hands of Oracle or Sun then they were when in the hands of Monty AB is a bit far-fetched. Monty AB could have left proprietary licensees high and dry just as easily as Oracle can now. If Monty AB had just cratered instead of being purchased… embedded customers would be in the same spot they are now.

    What we are seeing played out right now is ultimate outcome for every single venture capital funded “open-core” business model that is following in MySQL AB’s innovative footsteps. And I think its better for the entire ecosystem if Oracle kills the proprietary licensing option for MySQL and leaves it GPL only so that everyone will start to question the long term business consequences of the open/proprietary dual licensing approach for many of the codebases.


  2. Jef,

    First, you seem to be confusing MySQL Ab and Monty Program Ab (it’s not “Monty AB”). Monty Program Ab has never used dual-licensing. Monty Program Ab has never been considered for purchase by Oracle (AFAIK).

    Second, cPanel does not embed MySQL. They merely offer a GUIfication of setup and maintenance. I discussed cPanel WRT to “switching to Postgres,” not dual licensing.

    Finally, how is it “far-fetched” to think that selling the world’s most popular open source database less problematic when selling to a company with no database product (Sun) than to the world’s largest commercial database vendor (Oracle). If you sell Ford to Nestle, it’s not as big a deal as selling Ford to GM.

  3. I respect the right of MPAB to have an opinion. I don’t respect the right of people to be obnoxious about it, cast this as a battle between good and evil and cast themselves in the role of savior.

    How do you know how hard it would be for Google/eBay/Amazon/Craigslist to switch?

    MariaDB will immediately become the de facto replacement in most Linux distros and in the minds of most people.

    What makes you think MariaDB will be the replacement? There is much more talent at Sun/MySQL than at MPAB. I will bet on them whether they stay at Sun or go on to another venture.

  4. I respect the right of MPAB to have an opinion. I don’t respect the right of people to be obnoxious about it, cast this as a battle between good and evil and cast themselves in the role of savior.

    Mark, do you feel I’m doing this? It’s not my intention. I just want to get some of the misconceptions cleared up.

    How do you know how hard it would be for Google/eBay/Amazon/Craigslist to switch?

    IIRC, you yourself told me at OSCon that switching to Postgres would be extremely labor intensive for Google.

    What makes you think MariaDB will be the replacement?

    Well, not counting technical reasons, what alternatives do you see?

  5. Kurt,

    I think this post is much better than some of the other posts from MPAB supporters. But many posts have gone too far and in return you have gotten a few harsh responses and lots of -1 votes on planetmysql. Other posts (see Ronald Bradford’s post from today) have not and the response to them has not been as harsh.

    With respect to something being hard, big deal. Lots of things I have to do in life are hard (peer reviews, debug crashes, write tests). Your point was that switching is not a solution and that is very different from something being hard.

    The replacement would be whatever gathered a team of developers and users. You have to show us that, not tell us.

  6. Mark,

    At the risk of committing the Career Limiting Action, I agree about the tendency toward martyrdom in some other posts. It’s regrettable.

    In Monty’s defense, as regards his statements, when he gets emotional I think it’s more a measure of his commitment and love for the project than a need for sympathy.

    As regards something being hard, I agree. But many companies do cost/benefit analyses, and difficulty is a factor in cost. In that sense, many entities may find it well nigh impossible to switch platforms given the monetary and human costs.

    And I’m 100% in agreement on that last point. I’ve actually gotten Monty to yell at me recently when I keep reminding him we need a final release of MariaDB 5.1. But I’m a Community Team guy. Getting awesome code in the hands of users is much more important to me than is legal wrangling. Trust me to keep pushing. I’ll take the bullets.

    Thanks for the comments, as always. Let’s hope my candor in this comment doesn’t come back to haunt me. 🙂

  7. Hi!

    heh, I can see that Mark Callaghan already posted a few comments that eloquently capture some of my reservations.

    Now about the Red Goo analogy:

    “Would Mark and Bob be pleased about the possible prospects for Red Goo?”

    pleased is besides the point IMO

    “Would you tell them, “This is what happens when you sell a company?””

    I think, for me personally, the answer would be “yes”.

    “Or would you, quite rightly, start being concerned about the future of one of the most important Linux distributions?”

    For me personally I guess the answer would be “no” here too. Why? First of all, there is CentOS, so in the short term nobody would be cut off from (compatible) software. And exactly because there is something like CentOS it would seem unlikely that MS would buy it just to kill it. I sincerely think that MS buying Red Hat would give me hope that they were making a serious business of Windows/Linux operability.

    kind regards,


  8. First, let me be clear that I agree with Mark that Monty and company are entitled to their opinions, and I respect them, no matter how much I may disagree with them. That said, your first three points pretty well miss the mark. By focusing on who Monty sold MySQL to, or how much money he made, you miss the larger point:

    Monty once had full control over MySQL. Monty no longer has this control. A good bit of money changed hands to make this happen.

    It really happened back when VCs were first brought in, long before Sun was a sparkle in Marten’s eye, but I don’t know that the “when” and “who” are important in this discussion.

    You make the following statement:

    “Part of me wants to kiss Monty. He’s the kind of dedicated and thoughtful steward any project deserves.”

    This is amusing, since MySQL has never really been an open source *project*, although it is clear Monty would like to run it like one now that he has made his money. The problem is, it was built as an open-source *business*, and it’s the *business* which made him rich, and now he’s working hard to undermine this same business in hopes of it resulting in a *project*. That’s ballsy, and I think it has dangerous implications for other open source businesses who hope to one day strike it rich in the same manner in which he did. He sold control, doesn’t like where it’s going, and is now trying to wrestle it away. Whether he wants control back personally or not is immaterial; the consequences for open source business – the same way he made his money – could be severe.

    Monty is effectively positioning MPAB so that no matter what happens, it stands to benefit. I don’t accept the argument that MPAB only benefits if Oracle does a terrible job with MySQL; spreading enough FUD up-front will surely do as a nice substitute.

    You also make the following comment:

    “Monty Program Ab has never used dual-licensing.”

    Well, that’s kinda the thing – you can’t, because Sun owns the code and is the only one that can grant the ability or create commercial licensed MySQL-derived products legally. That’s why Monty and Florian have suggested that a change of license to one allowing this would address many/most of the issues they have brought to the EC.

    Again, Monty’s done much for MySQL, and I respect him for it. Let’s be clear here, though – he could have run this as a project, retained control, and done whatever suited him and the community best. He chose not to, and that choice was motivated by money. That doesn’t make him the ideal project sponsor in my mind.

  9. It was a typo…. everywhere you see Monty AB in my post it should read MySQL AB. The only reference to Monty which should exist is to the individual in the paragraph where I use the word shame a lot.

    Shame on me for my typos.


  10. The best solution for a project/product like MySQL – change the license to BSD or something like that and ditch the damned GPL. Not a rant against the GPL, it’s fine for some things, but for something like this, it’s totally out of place. A BSD-style license would make everything possible.

  11. Are you saying the CPanel is using MySQL internally under the GPL license and not the commercial licensing terms that MySQL AB offered? If so.. they have no need to switch. Any entity making use of MySQL under the GPL licensing have everything they need to continue to make use of it. They can even contract without outside individuals to continue to service and build enhancements to the GPL licensed version even if Oracle kills of MySQL entirely. If you are using and distributing MySQL under the GPL license.. this isn’t a big deal. If you are using MySQL under the terms set forth by commercial licensing offered by MySQL AB or Sun then it really comes down to what guarantees and rights those commercial licenses give you as a customer.

    I love your analogy.. because its so contradictory to 100 years of business reality. Selling Ford to Nestle…. would be a HUGE deal…because Nestle has no idea how to sell cars. That’s a guaranteed way to kill automotive product lines. That is a horrid analogy.

    It’s far more likely that car companies will buy each other… and then kill off redundant brands. The last 100 years of car manufacturing is full of periods of buy-outs and die-offs of product lines. The latest? GM buys SAAB in 2000, kills the brand in 2009 when noone else is interested in paying GM enough money for the brand. Instead GM has sold off some of SAAB’s technologies and designs piecemeal.

    Or you want a current situation…take the candy manufacturer Cadbury whom Kraft is currently trying to make a hostile bid for by buying out enough shareholders to gain control of the company. Cadbury’s management in response is trying to figure out if they can merge with Hershey as an alternative fate. Kraft has candy/chocolate brands already. Hershey has candy/chocolate brands already… and neither of them are in the market for a car brand. Competitors buy each other all the time in the brick and mortar world.

  12. Jef,

    Again, I used cPanel of an example of a project or product that would find it hard to switch to Postgres. Not in the context of licensing.

  13. Sheeri,

    I’m not sure what Oracle will or will not do. And I’m not a gambling man.

    This post was about clearing up some factual misconceptions being widely repeated. As such, your assertion that, “The arguments made are all valid,” makes me think I have been somewhat successful.

    Make no mistake. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a psychic. Being neither, I’m not a good judge of what Oracle’s intentions may be. I know enough to know that there is cause for concern. Whether that concern is wholly justified is another matter.

    I do know that relicensing under the BSD, MIT/X, or Apache licenses would allay my fears completely. However, I find that to be an unlikely remedy, given Oracle’s actions thus far.

    Thanks for the comment. Nice blog post, also. Informed opinions, even if they contradict my thoughts, are always welcome. Rock on.

  14. And again.. its a red herring argument. There’s no impetus to switch if you are using MySQL as delivered under the GPL licensing option. There’s no point in talking about the high cost of CPanel switching to postgres exactly because its an unnecessary and unlikely thing for them to do if they are using MySQL under the terms of the GPL.

    The only users of the codebase who may have problems are those who negotiated for use using under commercial terms from MySQL AB or Sun. Those are the only users of the codebase that may be impacted if Oracle decided to change the licensing terms. But to know if they would be impacted we’d have to know exactly what the terms are for the commercial licenses. Do we know the full terms for any MySQL AB commercial licensee? Or were they individualized per client and made part of an NDA?


  15. Kurt,

    Thanks for posting about an important subject. However, your text does not live up to the ambitious subject header you set for it.

    I can be thankful for the indirect compliment you give me in the case of Sun’s acquisition of MySQL AB. But the fact is that any company being sold is sold by its shareholders and by no one else. (In all countries I know, anything else would be a crime.)

    I certainly had a central role in giving the shareholders of MySQL AB an opportunity to sell their shares to Sun, but I did not sell the company. I also never was a shareholder in MySQL AB.

    I was fulfilling my role as CEO of the company for which the shareholders (primarily the founders) in 2001 had agreed that: “the objective of the company shall be to create the highest possible shareholder value in such way that it will be possible to list the company on a stock exchange of recognised international standing or sell all the shares in the company to a third party.”

    When I joined MySQL AB in 2001, there was 1 million shares in the company – all owned by the founders. These shares were at the time valued at around $7-8 million in total. When Sun acquired MySQL AB, those shares had increased their value roughly forty times to about $280 million. This is all based on commonly available data so you can check it for yourself.


  16. Mårten,

    My intention in saying, “It was Mårten’s decision in concert with the outside investors he had courted,” was to make it clear that the “heavy lifting” work of courting venture capitalists and ensuring that they received a return on their investment was your task, and not Monty’s.

    It was also my intention to make it clear that this was exactly what you were hired to do, and thus the sale should be seen as your success.

    A lot of comments are saying “Monty sold MySQL to Sun,” when in fact, as you say (and I tried to say, perhaps awkwardly), the company was sold by its investors, after a lot of hard work from you.

    I hope this clarifies my intention in what I said. I also hope you find yourself more in agreement with my sentiments.

    And thanks for the comment!

  17. The thing about this that irks me (and quite a few others from what I read) is that if Monty et al wanted people to be able to benefit from being able to make proprietary and embedded versions, it should have been put under a BSD/Apache licence while under the control of MySQL AB.

    They were perfectly happy to have only one company be able to do that, provided it was them. Not that it’s not them who can make money that way, they’ve suddently said “anyone should be able to do that”. As far as I can see, this has only changed because they have realised it makes it harder for them to make their money, and are whinging about it.

    With respect to (2), while you can be concerned, it is what happens when you sell the company. If you sell your company knowing perfectly well that you can’t do X, complaining down the track that you can’t do X seems a bit rich. I would imagine that Monty et al knew perfectly well that if they ever left MySQL/Sun after selling, they wouldn’t be able to start a new company that operated the same way as MySQL AB did. It just means they need to find a new way for Monty Program AB to make it’s money.

  18. Commenting Mårten:
    Mårten was the one that sold MySQL to Sun. He was definitely the salesman, there has never been any question about that!
    It’s true that formally the Board approved the deal, but that was a technical formality.

    Mårten doesn’t give a right impression about the shares. The 1 million shares in the beginning was not only owned by the founders, but also divided among co-workers, partners, friends and and some relatives. Shares was also later given out when one company was acquired and to people that joined MySQL AB.

    When MySQL AB was sold the original founders, Allan Larsson, David Axmark and I, Michael Widenius, got about 120 million USD. A lot of money, but far from what Mårten is suggesting that the founders got.

    Interesting that Mårten makes a big point that he didn’t have any shares, like to suggest that he didn’t make any money on the deal.

    The truth is that Mårten had a LOT of options, most of which he could have converted to shares at any point. When Sun bought MySQL, the options should have been converted to MySQL AB stock before they where converted to money. In the end Mårten got about 50 million USD, more than any of the founders.

    The only way Mårten would ever have MySQL AB stock if he would have converted all options directly to Sun stock (without going over MySQL AB stock, which I don’t think is possible). That could however explain why he is now so eager to help Oracle buy MySQL and even represented Oracle at the EC hearing. But he has himself said that he doesn’t have Sun options, and I have no reason to believe this is not the case.

  19. James,

    My personal desire, and one of the remedies proposed by Monty Program, is that MySQL is released under a different Free license. My personal preference would be the X11 license. This license is approved by the Free Software Foundation as a Free license, and is considered by them to be GPL-compatible.

    Should Oracle do that, the pay-for dual-licensing business from a single entity disappears. Yes, Monty Program could sell embedded solutions. But so could Oracle. And so could Dirty Dan’s Database Developers. Or anyone else.

    It would mean that MySQL would continue to be available as Free Software to the community. It would mean that Oracle would have the same business prospects they would have under the current licensing. But it also would mean that anyone, anywhere, would be able to compete with Oracle on a level playing field. MySQL development would become a merit-based technocracy.

    Current embedded customers and storage engine vendors would jump for joy. AFAIK, Monty Program would no longer have any objections to the Sun/Oracle deal. And I assume (but obviously cannot be sure) the EC would find this a satisfactory remedy.

    Of course, we’d still have major concerns at Monty Program. Competing with a talented company like Oracle on technical merits is a very, VERY difficult task. Oracle has to know this. They know they’re good at what they do. So I’m rather puzzled as to why they haven’t adopted this strategy.

    Thanks for the comment.

  20. To Mark:
    We would probably do that if Oracle would also use BSD. As long as most of the server is GPL, its easier to keep our server code under the same license).

    I would likt to soon create some libraries that will be published under BSD. (I have personally the rights to most of the code in mysys, so these should be easy to publish under BSD).


  21. Kurt,
    95% of them are GPL. And I didn’t sell the company to somebody else and beg them to re-license all of it now, did I?
    I don’t see the irony yet.


  22. Toby,

    Monty didn’t sell a company, either. That was the first point made in the post, and one to which Mårten Mickos agreed.

  23. Kurt, either way, it’s _out of his control_ now (hence “letting go”. Why not?)

    I am disappointed you preferred to question my eligibility to make my first comment, than engage with it. Also, I would note that while your role of “Free Software wonk” is presumably a paid one – I do not get paid to produce my GPL’d work. It’s all done in spare time, as is any of my contribution to Maria project, and represents a greater investment of effort than you seem to realise. GPL material certainly represents more than 99% of the work, and more than 99% of the traffic (3000 downloads/day), represented by the page you combed for supposed hypocrisy.

    However I will certainly now consider GPL’ing some of the marginal products you mentioned which are not already open source (nobody has asked).

    In sum I can’t really take seriously your “shooting the messenger” and I’d remind you that my original comment was in no way meant as an attack. Treat it as a koan.

  24. Toby,

    If you are going to throw stones, always be prepared to receive some in return.

    When you take it upon yourself to tell someone to “let go” of the commercial and business opportunities they have created through their hard work, be sure you are willing to do the same.

    There is no business model for anyone else other than Oracle WRT storage engine vendors, embedded solutions developers, etc. Monty and a few dedicated people are trying to level the playing field, and allow anyone the same opportunities as the copyright holder.

    Not just Monty Program. Anyone.

    So another point to bear in mind when you admonish Monty to “let go,” is that you’d like him to turn his back on anyone interested in creating a livelihood for themselves from the MySQL ecosystem.

    Well, anyone except Larry Ellison.

    Before you throw stones, you might want to make sure they are being cast in the right direction.

  25. Kurt, once again, there was no stone, yet you insist on behaving as if it were. (Nor is there “ironic hypocrisy” involved in my position. I don’t need to “let go” of my own copyrights; I haven’t sold them.)

    Some of us are having a lot of trouble seeing why Sun’s stewardship was A-OK and Oracle’s is Apocalyptic (based on recent events many conclude the opposite).

    Whether one’s crystal ball shows Oracle killing MySQL and strangling the community (which let’s face it, would be self defeating as everybody knows that a platform == its community) or not, it’s no longer in the control of some of those fretting loudest. And the first paragraphs of your post read as white-knuckle anxiety about things you don’t control. Which is why I wrote what I did.

  26. Toby, with all due respect, if I consider your first comment a “koan,” there is indeed a stone.

    A koan is used by a Zen master to help a novitiate on the road to enlightenment. Thus, you set yourself up as the teacher to Monty’s disciple. Seeing that Monty has only ever written code released under the GPL (he was not involved in MySQL Monitor or other such products), and that you have proprietary, closed-source, commercial applications on the website you yourself left as a meaningful link to your name, I do see some irony, and I do see a stone cast.

    Some of us are having a lot of trouble seeing why Sun’s stewardship was A-OK and Oracle’s is Apocalyptic (based on recent events many conclude the opposite).

    Sun was not a major player in the database market before the MySQL acquisition. Thus, one could assume Sun would have every motivation for continuing to develop MySQL and work to create a healthy and viable market around it.

    You cannot say the same of Oracle.

  27. I think your purity test, to be able to participate in this conversation, is ridiculous. “Have you ever written a line of non-GPL code?” Have you? Let’s take a straw poll of those who have entered opinions in this debate… And where is *your* GPL corpus? You have seen some of mine.

    Some of us can see Oracle has plenty of motivation to help MySQL thrive and little to kill it (market segmentation?) What seems insurmountable is the anxiety over not having certainty of it (what *is* certain in life, Kurt?)

    In any case, all this energy spent throwing stones and making water run uphill could be directed more fruitfully. Widenius built the first Oracle killer. He can win the 2nd round by building the Oracle-killer-killer, as I have opined elsewhere:

  28. To Kurt and Monty:

    Your statements are deviating farther from the truth by each posting on this blog. I don’t know why that is or what your purpose is, nor do I really take an interest in your thinking at this point.

    But if you name the posting the way you do (“setting some facts straight”) and then you present untruthful statements about me or purported to be supported by me, then I will want to publish a correction for the sake of all genuinely truth-seeking readers of this blog now or in the future, so here we go:

    1. A limited company can be sold only by its shareholders. Anyone else involved is at most helping out or providing for opportunities. But it is only the shareholders who sell the company (to repeat from my previous comment on this blog: anything else would be a crime).

    The MySQL AB founders, including Monty, sold out their company – otherwise they would still own shares in it or its successor. The fact that they started this selling-out process as early as in 2001 does not change a thing. They still sold their shares – ultimately all of them. (There is also nothing surprising in this. Like for so many startups, it was a goal stated by the founders in 2001.)

    It is incorrect to claim that the board of MySQL AB “formally approved the deal” and that such an approval would be a “technical formality”. What the board did was *recommend* the deal to the shareholders. Such a recommendation is neither a formal approval nor a technical formality.

    It is incorrect to claim that I was “definitely the salesman”. I don’t think there was anybody you would call a salesman in this process. But if such a term is to be used, the honour should most closely go to the team at Credit Suisse who represented MySQL AB to all who were interested in buying the company.

    2. It is entirely incorrect to claim that I would have made 50 million USD on this. I would have had nothing against making such money, but I didn’t. Of course, if Monty thinks that I should have made such a huge amount of money, then I am still open to receiving it and you are welcome to wire it to me.

    A bigger question is perhaps what on earth this has to do with Oracle acquiring or not acquiring Sun Microsystems.

    Another big question is why in the first place Monty thinks he has access to information about my personal stock options and has the right to disseminate it in public. In any corporation, such information is strictly confidential and shared only with people who are contractually bound not to disclose it to third parties. With his statement on this blog it seems to me that Monty is demonstrating either a disrespect for binding contracts or a disrespect for facts, or possibly both.

    3. It is incorrect to claim that I would have represented Oracle at the EU hearing.

    I indeed participated in the EU hearing last week. I did so as what I would consider an expert witness, representing myself and nothing but myself. I have no financial or other ties to any of the companies represented or heard at the hearing.

    I volunteered to attend the hearing in Brussels because I felt that Sun and its MySQL team were unjustly suffering under a bizarre and prolonged debate on which the vast majority of independent industry experts agrees: there is no rational reason to prohibit Oracle from acquiring all of Sun.

    With these clarifications I hope that people will stop putting words in my mouth or saying things about me that are untrue.

    Kind regards,


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