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Save MySQL would not spare open source M&AJay Lyman, January 11, 2010 @ 7:18 pm ET
A recent pitch from the folks opposing Oracle’s ownership of MySQL via acquisition of Sun Microsystems got me thinking. The plea, ‘Oracle can have Sun, but not MySQL’ may make sense to some, but to me it speaks to the irony of closing out Oracle or any company or anyone from open source. Upon further reflection and given 2010 is off to a roaring pace of M&A, I also began to wonder what the impact of the ‘Save MySQL’ campaign could be on open source in M&A, particularly if it was to successfully derail the acquisition or somehow decouple MySQL from Sun under Oracle?
What would it mean to carve out the open source projects, components, teams and support from companies involved in mergers and acquisitions over the last few years?
Would Citrix have still bought XenSource if Xen were cut out or somehow separated in any way shape or form from the deal? Would it have paid $500m?
Would Nokia have bought Trolltech and Qt for $153m?
More recently, would VMware have purchsed SpringSource for $420m if some or any of SpringSource’s open source projects, developers or holdings — including its own acquisitions Covalent and Hyperic — were not included?
Oh yeah, would we even be here with MySQL owned by Sun Microsystems if Sun were prevented from fully acquiring the project, code and company despite spending $1 billion two years ago?
Some degree of concern about Oracle’s potential ownership of MySQL or any ownership of open source projects and code is certainly warrented and prudent, but I don’t believe the fear that punctuates the message of the ‘Save MySQL’ campaign makes much sense. This is particularly so in light of the past deals listed here and others where the market has required continued investment and support of open source and provided continued revenue and benefits from open source.
While some of these scenarios may be admittedly implausible, I believe that separating out open source components, parts, projects and subsidiaries from vendors could certainly serve to dull the shine of open source software assets and vendors amid M&A valuations, prospects and strategy.
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