Press release concerning Oracle/Sun



Michael 'Monty' Widenius says European Commission is "absolutely right to be concerned" about proposed merger between Oracle Corporation [ORCL] and Sun Microsystems [JAVA], nominates award-winning EU strategist to support the proceeding

Tuusula, Finland, 19 October 2009 -- Michael 'Monty' Widenius, the creator of open source database MySQL and founder of the namesake company later acquired by Sun, today suggested Oracle should resolve antitrust concerns over its US$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun by committing to sell MySQL to a suitable third party. The proposed takeover has not yet been consummated because it is being investigated in depth by the European Commission as well as competition authorities in several other jurisdictions.

Widenius, who posted this press release to his blog, believes the EU's antitrust regulator is "absolutely right to be concerned" and called on Oracle "to be constructive and commit to sell MySQL to a suitable third party, enabling an instant solution instead of letting Sun suffer much longer."

The Finnish software developer and entrepreneur wishes Sun "all the best, but MySQL needs a different home than Oracle, a home where there will be no conflicts of interest concerning how, or if, MySQL should be developed further."

MySQL was the only Sun business unit to be mentioned in the EC's early September announcement of its in-depth investigation into the proposed takeover.

Acquirers commonly resolve regulatory concerns (before, during or after an investigation) by committing to divest problematic assets to a third party. By contrast, Oracle and Sun officials have thus far insisted they continue to seek approval of the entire transaction, irrespectively of Sun currently losing, according to Oracle, $100 million a month.

In order to support the regulators' work on the case, Widenius' new company, Monty Program Ab, works closely with Florian Mueller, a MySQL and EU affairs expert. Widenius said: "Florian gave MySQL strategic advice from 2001 on and was a shareholder until the sale to Sun in 2008, and with our support led an award-winning campaign against a proposed EU law on software patents. In August he helped us to demonstrate to the EC the need to investigate this merger and he is now on board again to meet the information needs of regulators, journalists and analysts."

According to Mueller, "every day that passes without Oracle excluding MySQL from the deal is further evidence that Oracle just wants to get rid of its open source challenger and that the EU's investigation is needed to safeguard innovation and customer choice. This is highly critical because the entire knowledge-based economy is built on databases."

Mueller demands more respect for the EC: "It's inappropriately arrogant for some interested parties to suggest that the EC has yet to understand the case. The EC is really doing a great job under huge time pressure."

In what he calls "a solution-oriented information effort that is now necessary after other parties made public statements on the case in recent weeks", Mueller announced that he will be available to journalists and analysts in Brussels (Wednesday, 21 October), London (Thursday, 22 October) and Silicon Valley (Monday, 26 October) to discuss the case.

In August, Mueller authored a position paper that Monty Program provided to the EC along with several other submissions. The latest version of the document was published today on the Internet.

About Michael 'Monty' Widenius and Monty Program Ab

Michael 'Monty' Widenius is the creator of MySQL, the world's most popular open source database. In 2001, he founded the namesake company that was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008 for a total consideration of approximately US$1 billion. The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) named this transaction the "European Venture Capital Deal of the Year 2008". On a previous occasion, Widenius had been named the Finnish Software Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.

A visionary leader of the open source community, Widenius created MySQL's dual-licensing business model together with co-founder David Axmark. MySQL became the first piece of software to be available alternatively under a commercial license or the Free Software Foundation's GPL.

In 2009, Widenius left Sun and created a new company, Monty Program Ab, based in Tuusula (Helsinki area), Finland. Monty Program Ab develops MariaDB and the Maria database storage engine and other MySQL-related technologies. The company is a founding member of the Open Database Alliance.

Monty Program Ab corporate website

Michael Widenius' blog

About Florian Mueller

Florian Mueller is a software industry veteran with 24 years of experience (starting as an author at age 15) as well as an award-winning EU policy strategist. Previously founder and CEO of a startup he sold to the Telefónica group, Mueller became in 2001 an adviser to MySQL's then-CEO on corporate strategy and held shares in the company until its sale.

In 2004, Mueller created a campaign in 17 languages against a proposal for European patent legislation, finally rejected by the European Parliament in a historic decision at the end of a bitterly contested process. The Economist Group's European Voice named Mueller the EU Campaigner of the Year 2005 (a prestigious award that went to Pope John Paul II in 2002 and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007). Managing Intellectual Property named Mueller to its list of the 50 most influential people in intellectual property (2005 and 2006). In 2005 he also received a CNET UK award (Outstanding Contribution to Software Development) and made it to the list of Silicon.com's 50 "Silicon Agenda Setters".

In 2007, Mueller successfully defended the EU-related interests of Real Madrid CF, the world's most famous soccer club with approximately 200 million fans worldwide.

Contact data

For further information concerning this news release, please contact Florian Mueller (telephone: +49-171-2632226, email: florian.mueller@live.com).


Tony Bain said...

Monty, who would be the list of potential acquirers? I can’t think of too many companies that would have both the strategy & ability to put $1b on the table for a MySQL acquisition. Or is MySQL worth less today than a few years ago?

Monty said...

There is a notable list of companies interested in MySQL (or at least where at the time when MySQL was independent). I prefer not to name them to keep their options open for the future and I also have to keep MySQL Board information private.

You're asking about MySQL's value. It is a good question. I think it would be wrong for me to speculate on that, sorry. But it's of course up to the market to put up a fair price of the MySQL asset. It's worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

One thing I want to make clear though, that Monty Program Ab certainly cannot afford to buy MySQL, whatever the value turns out to be. It is just too funny every time I see the media speculating on that.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the media is getting hung up on whether Monty Program will buy MySQL - it's clear your strategy is get it back (or as good as) for free, by forking it.

Still, you got your money from it's sale a couple of years ago, so it's a very clever tactic, if you ask me.

Monty said...


I don't know where you or the media got the impression that Monty Program Ab would even be able to afford to buy MySQL back. We could never afford it, and, more importantly, that is not why we have objections to Oracle's ownership.

What my colleagues and I are working for is to ensure that the MySQL project and product, which I created, will survive no matter what happens. I feel a responsibility to all the people that have put their faith and future into using MySQL, and I don't want them to be disappointed with their choice. These goals are best attained if MySQL is owned by a company that has a lot to gain in keeping it alive, and more importantly, nothing to gain by killing it or not developing it further.

What the EC is concerned with is decreased competition and higher prices in the database field should Oracle be allowed to buy MySQL. We are helping them, at their request, by providing relevant information to them so that they can make the correct decision. We are not doing this because there is any money in it for us. We are doing this because this is the right thing to do.

usagemayvary said...

monty, I think you are avoiding Timmy's comment: Nobody said you had to buy it directly, but we could easily envision codeplex buying it, which would be a disaster (and death of MySQL).

Anonymous said...

Since MySQL is open-source how _can_ a company like Oracle "kill" it). It's out there and available for anyone who chooses to use it or develop it further. I guess I am missing something here. Is there something in the Open-Source License that would allow a potential acquirer to take it out of its current open-source status and to do so retro-actively for all derivatives or forks already out there? It would be nice if someone who understands the subtleties explains clearly without fudging for their own political, ideological or economic gains. Thanks!

Monty said...

To Tony:

CodePlex Foundation doesn't have any money to buy MySQL. Also, this is not what CodePlex Foundation is all about. Read my blog about it.

If you mean CodePlex.com (ie Microsoft), they would have the similar problems with the antitrust authorities as Oracle if they would try to buy MySQL, so I don't see that as a likely scenario.

My own primarily motivation is to do my best to help that MySQL gets a home at some place and under condition where the owner have everything to gain by continuing to develop it and nothing to gain by trying to kill it.

Monty said...

To Shefali (about how to kill MySQL):

Good question. We tried to explain that in the position paper to the EC, but apparently not clear enough as a lot of people are still confused about this.

I will at once write a new blog post to try to explain this.

JVerstry said...

My 2 cents at http://adamman71.blogspot.com/2009/10/open-source-guarantees-free-market.html

Ranjan said...

i think this is a conspiracy and you guys are scared, Oracle is shrewd business company and they will put their muscle behind MySql to compete with Microsoft's database offering ( which interestingly is parterning with someone ) lot of things are happening in europe.

I fear that if this what opensource license is all about and opensource product are so dependent on some company ( ironical ) than there is no point to use opensource license.

Oracle if you are listening - create a mysql foundation and donate and fund that foundation all IP rights and money.that should settle it and it would unsettle your competitor in small db market...esp MS and likes.