In a move designed to make MySQL enterprise friendly, give prospective IT hardware buyers more reasons to consider Sun and further fuel Microsoft’s Open Source heartburn, Sun announced today it is acquiring MySQL AB for $1 billion in cash and debt.
“We’re putting a billion dollars behind the M in LAMP,” said Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz as he announced the deal to the public at his blog this morning. Schwartz cited a main reason for the deal as the opportunity for a Fortune 500 vendor – Sun – to offer the kind of mission critical global support that up to now has given commercial vendors such as Oracle and Microsoft the edge.
“So what are we announcing today? That in addition to acquiring MySQL, Sun will be unveiling new global support offerings into the MySQL marketplace. We’ll be investing in both the community, and the marketplace – to accelerate the industry’s phase change away from proprietary technology to the new world of open web platforms.
The good news is Sun is already committed to the business model at the heart of MySQL’s success – first investing to grow communities of users and developers, and only then creating commercial services that attract (rather than lock in) paying customers.”
Open Source luminary Tim O’Reilly were quick to praise the deal:
“The acquisition is also a great fit because Sun has staked its future on open source, releasing its formerly proprietary crown jewels, including Solaris, Java, and the Ultra-Sparc processor design.
“And even leaving out other open source projects at the company such as openoffice.org and netbeans, Sun has long been the single largest corporate contributor to the open source ecosystem.”
While some web workers hope the deal will lead to MySQL getting baked into Open Office to replace the existing but unloved BASE database, others are hoping once Sun takes possession in March of the database company it will move to simplify and clarify MySQL’s sometimes confusing mix of Open Source and proprietary licenses.
Sun’s acquisition caps a list of successful Open Source companies being bought in the last two years including Red Hat buying JBoss for $400 million in 2006, Citrix purchasing virtualization company XenSource for $500 million and Yahoo! purchasing Zimbra for $350 million in 2007.
There’s a second and more subtle — but extremely important — impact of the MySQL acquisition and that is the impact the announcement may have on European technology startup communities. Throughout Europe, technology entrepreneurship remains an oddity, and success stories are relatively rare. We’ve worked within the European technology community for nearly a decade and can still count on our available digits the number of grand-slam exits for tech startups there, and the social and cultural risk of entrepreneurship remains high.