Today, Sun announced we’ve closed the acquisition of MySQL – MySQL is now officially a part of Sun! From a dinner meeting back in late November, through some introspection from MySQL’s CEO, to a closing today in late February – everyone involved showed a great sense of pace, urgency and excitement. And now, it’s off to the races!
Since the announcement, I’ve seen and heard near universal support for the relationship – most everyone wants to know where we’re headed, so here’s a quick overview of our initial plans.
Starting today, we’re rolling out global programs to raise awareness and adoption of MySQL among more established enterprises – you’ll see ads like this (to the right) targeting institutions and independent software/service vendors (ISV’s) looking to standardize on open source architectures. As the ad highlights, we’re introducing global, enterprise support programs for MySQL – offering the largest institutions on earth a new option in mission critical deployment. We are going all out to sign up new customers, extending MySQL’s reach.
The overall message is simple: we’re bringing our largest customers the innovation and performance the world’s most important on-line companies are already experiencing – giving them the option of putting MySQL into global, mission critical deployment.
Internally, the more than 10,000 people that make up the Sun engineering community – of which the MySQL team is now a core part – have begun to engage across a dizzying array of touchpoints. From diagnostics and technical integration, to performance engineering, hardware and software optimization and, leveraging our large scale benchmarking facilities, going after a few more world records. A breadth of projects are underway to enhance the value MySQL can deliver in a diversity of settings – and we’ll work hard to ensure MySQL flies like a dolphin on Linux, Windows and Solaris, and on systems built by Dell, IBM, HP, Intel, AMD, Sun, Fujitsu (ie, everyone).
As importantly, our market development teams are also spooling up – to assist ISV’s who rely upon MySQL (along with those that are newly interested in doing so) with the engineering, marketing and sales support they require. Functionality aside, what matters most to ISV’s is ready access to markets and customers – what’s known as “go to market” partnering with ISV’s has always been a long suit for Sun. So over the next few months, you’ll start to see a parade of new wins – which we’ll be winning with ISV’s, and with partners, arm in arm, across the world.
The big MySQL user conference is coming up, too – to which I’d like to invite all interested in the future of MySQL (partners, ISV’s, customers, developers, all). You can get more information here.
Now, although the feedback has been hugely positive, across the globe, there have been a couple snarky comments from a cynic here and there, whose concerns I thought I’d put to rest right here, once and for all.
There are still folks in the world who don’t believe there’s an economic model behind open source – they thus believe $1 billion is an outlandish price to pay for MySQL. The most extreme among them see Linux, OpenSolaris or companies like SugarCRM as nothing more than playgrounds for hobbyists.
Most of the IT world knows quite the opposite.
Companies that freely distribute their products, rather than limit access via pricing or proprietary licensing, are simply prioritizing adoption over immediate revenue – a good example of this is Microsoft’s recent attempt to revive adoption of their developer tools in universities by lowering some prices to free.
There is a clear economic model behind open source, eloquently summarized by Marten Mickos, MySQL’s CEO: the spectrum describing the marketplace spans those with more time than money, who form the user and developer communities around free software; and those with more money than time, who purchase commercial support contracts typically in more mature enterprises. To win in the long run, you have to win on both sides of the spectrum – with the same product. Crippling products, or sneaky licensing exceptions don’t work – freedom does.
In terms of the price we paid for MySQL (roughly $800m in cash, $200m in assumed options), we thought about it this way – first, the standalone business, unenhanced by Sun, was on a ramp to an IPO. The IPO would’ve been priced, by our calculations, at near the purchase price we paid. Remember, we’re buying a financial asset as well as a strategic one. We paid a control premium to convince their board to go with Sun, obviously. But then we figured we could amplify their success as a software company by aligning with Sun’s 17,000+ person global sales/service/support/channel organization – we can together reach a far broader customer set than MySQL could on their own, which generates upside for Sun. And, although a small (but growing) percentage of their downloads convert to purchase orders, 100% of those downloads require a hardware purchase – for many, a server and storage device (for just as many, a laptop). We’d like to believe we can earn some of that business with solutions optimized for MySQL – even if the end customer isn’t (yet) paying for software.
Finally, remember that database licenses often make up a considerable part of any company’s budget – to the extent we can introduce new options for those customers (even via the appearance of a well designed coffee mug on the procurement agent’s desk), we can free up budgets for new investments. Which drives more customers to seek out Sun – vendors that save money with better performance are well liked.
Net/net, we believe we paid a fair price (and all that said, remember, we’re not a monopsony).
Now, another concern forwarded to me was the conspiracy theory that wondered… as soon as a big company owns MySQL, surely they’ll adopt a nefarious proprietary license that levies extortionate rents for the simple act of storing and retrieving data?
Anyone who thinks that hasn’t be following Sun of late.
One reason the integration of Sun and MySQL has gone so smoothly is our development and business models are nearly identical – we both invest in very high quality free software and the cultivation of large communities, then turn our efforts to monetize at the point of value for companies that want commercial support. We’re peas in a pod.
And to prove the point – I would like to formally invite you to try MySQL, with a free download (just click the logo). While you’re at it, why not give Glassfish and NetBeans a swim around the tank, too… Web developers never had it so good…
It’s truly a great day for free software – and for the growing majority of companies across the globe that look to open solutions for choice, value and innovation.
I hope to see many of you at the MySQL Conference! I’m quite confident it’s going to be an interesting event for everyone.