Me on Marc Fleury on Sun purchase of MySQL

The last post was supposed to be this one, but I got distracted on how I found it. Needless to say, I’ll probably be haunting more, because he has some interesting commentary, as does Mark Shuttleworth of Thawte and Ubuntu.

Unlike Marc Andressen, who, while once genius, has become a trivial marketing guru and vaccuous political dilettante. Which I admit I’d probably become if I got rich too. Although, if Ning were better, judging by the postings on, he’d be rich. Maybe its because Dolphin is eating his lunch. But if I had $100 (the typical asking rate on Guru for a MySpace or Facebook clone) for everyone who wants to build a social network site, I’d be pretty rich too.

I’m risking getting completely off track again, so here’s what I said about the purchase of MySQL:

Reward buyout.

Sun has already made a fortune off of MySQL. So has Oracle, so have Microsoft, Redhat, IBM, and Cisco.

Sun isn’t really trying to make money off of MySQL, they’re trying to make money off of the *next* MySQL. I don’t know what that is. But it will be open source, and it will increase productivity immensely. It will, as Bob Young says “grow the pie.”

Before MySQL there were two types of databases, Oracle and Access. Oracle was really good and Access had a lot of users. MySQL currently has *way* more users than Access did when MySQL came on the scene, and MySQL now is probably a better database than Oracle was then.

That’s not saying MySQL is so great, but that technology has come a long way. Did Oracle in 1995 have some features that MySQL doesn’t? Sure.

Whether you’re using Postgres, SQLite, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, HSQLD, Firebird, Derby, or whatever, you’re benefiting from the popularity of MySQL. If you’re still using Progress, dBase, or Sybase, maybe not.

My point is that MySQL did for databases what Netscape did for the internet, what Apache did for web servers, what Star Office did for alternate word processors, what Sendmail did for email servers, and what JBoss did for J2EE.

In the startup investment averse climate these days, acquisition is the way the market rewards innovation. You of all people should be aware of that, Marc. But perhaps you’re a little too close.

Despite the real value that JBoss brings to Redhat, (and perhaps MySQL will bring to Sun) the biggest reason for its acquisition is making you rich.

Because when the next Marc Fleury comes along with a silly idea to quit his job and move into his in-laws’ garage for a year to work on an idea he has for some open source application that will vastly increase the market size of technology X, the RedHats and Suns (and Ciscos and Dells) of the world want him to succeed. Or at least believe he’s got a shot.

Redhat itself was probably the biggest reward acquisition of all time. Only it was an IPO climate then. People wanted to reward Bob Young, and Alan Cox, and Linus Torvards, Tim O’reilly, and many open source folks they knew (or hoped) were in on the IPO.

That’s not to say the market always does what it wants or is always rational. Not everyone with a great (and successful) idea is always rewarded. Eric Allman, by all rights, should be almost as rich as Marc Andressen. While I doubt he’s doing too badly, I’d say email was as at least as big of a productivity gain as the browser. Maybe its because sendmail wasn’t as revolutionary as Netscape, or because it was open source, or because he had more modest ambitions, or greater risk aversion.

While I worry about JBoss “stagnating” at Redhat or MySQL “floundering” at Sun or Tangosol getting “buried” at Oracle, I’m not too worried. Because these products have already made huge productivity gains, and even if they died instantly on acquisition, they’ve already done the damage of 1) releasing their ideas and 2) showing other bright young entrepeneurs it can be done.

If only my in-laws had a garage.

Of course I’m spending 6 months off in Ecuador, but I haven’t made nearly the progress I’d like, due to lack of focus and perhaps biting off more than I can chew. I think QA Site is the way to go and CuencaTravel (somewhat of a social network site) is a good product to test it with.

I’m lacking in some areas of expertise, such as email server administration, graphic design, and sales.

2 thoughts on “Me on Marc Fleury on Sun purchase of MySQL

  1. Bricks can be replaced in the lamp
    Why they always forget the MTA or DNS?
    They are critical parts of the clusters
    Sendmail is replaced by postfix or qmail if you are a sane person (in ubuntu postfix is by default)
    Apache is replaced by lighttpd and nginix – better webservers IMHO
    mysql by firebird or postgresql
    linux kernel is good enough and is better than win or solaris (if you want wamp or samp)
    php can be replaced by ruby or perl

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