Since the European Commission announced it was opening an in-depth investigation into the proposed takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle with a focus on MySQL there has been no shortage of opinion written about Oracle’s impending ownership of MySQL and its impact on MySQL users and commercial partners, as well as MySQL’s business model, dual licensing and the GPL.
In order to try and bring some order to the conversation, we have brought together some of the most referenced blog posts and news stories in chronological order.
Part one, below, takes us from the announcement of the EC’s in-depth investigation up to the eve of the communication of the EC’s Statement of Objections.
Part two, takes us from there to the eve of the announcement of Oracle’s concessions.
We will continue to update part three until either the acquisition or the EC’s investigation closes.
September 3: The European Commission announces that it has opened in-depth investigation into proposed takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle with a focus on MySQL.
“The Commission’s investigation has also shown that the open source nature of Sun’s MySQL might not eliminate fully the potential for anti-competitive effects. In its in-depth investigation, the Commission will therefore address a number of issues, including Oracle’s incentive to further develop MySQL as an open source database.”
September 4: 451 CAOS Theory – The EC is mostly, but not entirely, wrong about Oracle/MySQL.
“Copyright ownership does not just impact the ability to license code, it also provides control over potential commercial uses of that code. This is where it could be argued that the EC could be right to have anti-competitive concerns over Oracle’s future ownership of MySQL.”
September 4: Monty Program Ab Chief Community and Communications Officer Kurt von Finck tells Ars Technica that that copyright and dual licensing is a significant concern.
“If Oracle were to release MySQL under a different license, say the Apache license, this issue would be mitigated to an extent. But for now, Oracle has many more avenues of [MySQL-related] business and revenue than do others.”
September 15 451 CAOS Theory – Oracle *could* kill off MySQL as a commercial product, but probably won’t
“It is impossible to create a fork that can be integrated with non-GPL code (or at least it appears to be.)”
September 17: Bill Schneider – Would MySQL survive without Oracle?
“MySQL is almost impossible to be monetized. More than 98 percent of the customer base is DIY, and they don’t see any value in paying for support.”
September 22: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reportedly says Oracle will not spin off MySQL.
“Ellison asserted that Oracle and MySQL do not compete – and he said Oracle has no intention of spinning off MySQL.”
September 30: The Wall Street Journal reported that documents indicate that Oracle intends to use MySQL to compete with Microsoft SQL Server.
“Oracle’s position is that in the market for small to medium-sized business databases, Sun’s MySQL database product, enables the company to compete against Microsoft.”
October 1: Matt Asay reiterates that MySQL’s value to Oracle is about competing with Microsoft.
“Open source is simply a means to an end, and in the case of MySQL, a means to denting Microsoft’s rising strength in emerging markets where Oracle’s expensive database technology doesn’t resonate.”
October 1: Carlo Piana explains why he is assisting Oracle’s legal team to get the acquisition approved.
“It must be passed through as soon as possible, or the company will die. And with it, some of the good development teams that have considerably contributed to the success of Free Software.”
October 8: Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos urges the EC to approve Oracle’s acquisition of Sun.
“I believe that Oracle’s acquisition of Sun (and MySQL) will increase competition in the database market. And I also believe that if, on the other hand, it becomes difficult or impossible for large companies to acquire open-source assets, then venture investments in open-source companies will slow down, harming the evolution of and innovation in open source, which would result in decreased competition.”
October 11: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reportedly says Oracle will invest in MySQL.
“He added a new line to the previously four-point list, this one promising MySQL would also receive more money for development and research.”
October 19: MySQL creator and Monty Program CEO Monty Widenius urged Oracle to give up on MySQL in order to land Sun.
“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.”
October 19: Richard Stallman, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and the Open Rights Group sent a letter to the EC urging it to block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL.
“If Oracle is allowed to acquire MySQL, it will predictably limit the development of the functionality and performance of the MySQL software platform, leading to profound harm to those who use MySQL software to power applications.”
October 19: Matt Asay argued that EU’s MySQL inquiry may backfire for open source.
“Why should commercial entities bother fostering community–the very community that makes them less susceptible to hostile takeover and anticompetitive forces–if doing so simply ends up ruining financial returns?”
October 20: Matt Asay and Simon Phipps note Stallman’s apparent admission that the GPL alone doesn’t guarantee software freedom.
“The GPL, which is supposed to be the ultimate guarantor of software freedom, may deliver the opposite.”
October 20: Sun Microsystems announced that it will lay off up to 3,000 people.
“The Board of Directors of Sun Microsystems, Inc. (the “Company”), in light of the delay in the closing of the acquisition of the Company, approved a plan to better align the Company’s resources with its strategic business objectives.”
October 20: 451 CAOS Theory – Closing Oracle out of open source?
“Although it might not be tasteful to all supporters of free and open source software, their very mantras and doctrines dictate their software and communities are open to all equally. Anything less is a contradiction of the core ideology of free and open source software.”
October 20: Carlo Piana – Apache what?
“I don’t see any suitable prospect investor which would be able both to pay the bill for this and to safeguard MySQL as Free Software more than Oracle is.”
October 21: 451 CAOS Theory – What about Woman’s Hour? Free speech, free markets and the future of MySQL
“The only possible argument in favour of the EC blocking Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL is that it is damaging to competition, not that it is damaging to MySQL itself. Otherwise we are asking the EC to rule on whether Oracle is open source-friendly enough to own MySQL, and that is neither something that an organisation like the EC is equipped to answer nor something that it should be asked to decide.”
October 21: Groklaw – Reasons I Believe the Community Should Support the Oracle-Sun Deal
“The most important reason is that opponents are trashing the GPL and calling it a source of “infection” in their FUD submission to the EU Commission.”
October 21: Kirk Wylie – Monty, Stallman, MySQL, Oracle, and Sun: Open Letter Wars
“Unfortunately, saying that you personally dislike something doesn’t provide a valid reason to block an acquisition on competition grounds. Saying that you don’t trust Oracle doesn’t alter the marketplace in a way that disadvantages customers as a whole. Saying that nobody else could make money by selling commercial licenses for MySQL doesn’t mean someone else must be allowed to.”
October 21: An EC spokesperson told The BBC that Oracle has not produced any evidence to ease its concerns.
“Oracle had failed to produce, despite repeated requests, either hard evidence that there were no competition problems or, alternatively, proposals for a remedy to the competition problems identified by the Commission.”
October 21: Tim Bray – The EU and MySQL
“If, in a merger or acquisition, partial control over a financially-insignificant Open-Source project can now be expected to result in many months of anti-trust review, that’s going to have a massive negative effect on the viability of M&A transactions all over the technology landscape.”
October 21: Jeremy Zawodny – Oracle and MySQL
“I haven’t yet seen anyone explain what motivation Oracle has for pouring resources into MySQL, especially if it eats away at their DBMS business on the low end.”
October 22: Ed Burnette – Stallman admits GPL flawed, proprietary licensing needed to pay for MySQL development
“Even if MySQL were owned by Oracle because of its purchase of Sun, the database would still be Free Software. Anyone could use the source code, build their own version, and distribute it to others. But finally Stallman has recognized that may not be good enough because somebody has to pay for this stuff.”
October 22: Brian “Krow” Aker – RMS, GPL, The Peculiar Institution of Dual Licensing
“Dual licensing forces any developer who wishes to contribute into a position of either giving up their rights and allowing their work to end up in commercial software, or creating a fork of the software with their changes. In essence it creates monopolies which can only be broken via forking the software.”
October 22: New York Times – Weak Points of Sun Deal Come Out in Europe
“The Sun/Oracle acquisition agreement includes no requirement that Oracle make any asset sales or agreements on its business to assuage regulators… Oracle is not required to complete the transaction unless it specifically obtains the European Union’s antitrust approval.”
October 23: Stephen O’Grady – Oracle, MySQL and the EU: The Q&A
“Given that Oracle has a negligible presence in the markets that Microsoft has been successful in, then, I think they’ll be the primary target. Meaning that competition shouldn’t be much of an issue.”
October 23: Karsten Garloff – The case for independence – Oracle, Sun and what to do with MySQL
“The present danger for MySQL shows how dependence on a single company (brought about by a dual-licensing strategy) puts even the most successful projects at risk.”
October 24: Monty Widenius – The importance of the license model of MySQL or Can MySQL be killed?
“It’s possible to create companies doing support for MySQL, but without the economics, there will not be enough money and incentive to pay enough for the development of MySQL to satisfy the requirement of all the MySQL users.”
October 24: JavaWorld – Who Should Oracle Sell MySQL To?
“It’s easy to suggest that Oracle should sell to a “suitable third party?” That’s just talk. The potentially significantly more difficult thing might be to actually find a buyer that meets the definition of “suitable” to all involved.”
October 25: Sacha Labourey – SUN vs./and ORCL: the failure of the dual licensing model?
“Some of the ex-MySQL co-founders who now ask for ORCL to let MySQL go are responsible for the current situation: their choice of a dual license business model years ago is what led to the current situation … but also what led MySQL to a 1B valuation. You cannot have it both ways I guess.”
October 25: Brian Aker asks Richard Stallman about MySQL and the GPL at foss.my 2009
October 26: eWeek – EU Strategist Claims an Oracle-owned MySQL Cannot Be Competitive
“It is legally possible but not viable [for Oracle] to be an innovative competitive force [by owning MySQL].”
October 28: Kirk Wylie – Monty’s Almost Certainly Looking for Investment
“I think… Florian is attempting to drum up a capital raise to acquire the MySQL IP to make the problem go away for Oracle, and to convince Oracle and Sun shareholders that Monty and Florian will do whatever it takes to block the acquisition so that they’ll tell Larry to let go.”
October 28: Carlo Piana – Send the GNU GPL to the Amazonia
“Amazon [Relational Database Service] gives us the best evidence that MySQL can be “monetized” by offering it in a Software As a Service setting. This can happen with GNU GPL licensed software and without receiving any special permission from the copyright holder, contradicting all claims that there is no viable way to fund development of a Free Software project without a dual license.”
October 29: Oracle updated its its Sun acquisition FAQ to include plans for Glassfish, Netbeans, MySQL and Openoffice.org
“Oracle plans to spend more money developing MySQL than Sun does now. Oracle expects to continue to develop and provide the open source MySQL database after the transaction closes. Oracle plans to add MySQL to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Berkeley DB, an open source database. Oracle also currently offers InnoDB, an open source transactional storage engine and the most important and popular transaction engine under MySQL. Oracle already distributes MySQL as part of our Enterprise Linux offering.”
November 2: MySQL rival was Oracle not Microsoft-Widenius
“The largest and the most common rival was Oracle. In every deal we were competing against Oracle… there is very little money to be made on the Windows side for MySQL. They are not going to make a profit there. The big money is on the Linux side where MySQL already successfully competes with Oracle, and where MySQL has put all their efforts during the last 10 years.”
November 4: Financial Times – Oracle braced for EU objection on Sun deal
“The US software company has refused to offer any concessions to European regulators to meet their concerns about the deal, according to one person close to the process. That has left Brussels close to issuing an official statement of objections, the first step on the path to blocking it, this person added… Some suggest that Oracle has little to lose by waiting to see Brussels’ precise concerns. It would then still have time to offer concessions or try to mount a legal fight.”
November 4: Matt Asay – Amazon’s move mocks EU’s fear of Oracle
“Amazon’s RDS proves that strong, viable competitors to MySQL can arise from within the MySQL community, which disproves the EC’s argument that Oracle’s control of MySQL will somehow crush competition.”
November 4: Forbes – What If Larry Leaves Sun At The Altar?
“The main deal protection for Sun shareholders is a breakup fee of $260 million, plus up to $45 million in expenses. By way of comparison, that’s about how much Oracle earns every 20 days.”
November 5: John Mark Walker – Open Source: More than a License
“The remarkable thing about the Oracle – MySQL case is that it forces us to put up or shut up in a realistic, fact-based way not clad in ideological robes. Whatever your opinions, you now have a test case against which to apply them. In the past, I decried the software freedom debate as much ado about nothing – the 21st century equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But now we see it in real-world terms where something tangible is at stake.”
November 5: New York Times – E.U. Faces Tricky Decision on Oracle Deal
“The dilemma has prompted speculation that the best outcome for Ms. Kroes would be for Oracle to drop its interest in buying Sun, relieving the regulators of the need to make a choice.”
November 5: Wall Street Journal – SAP’s ‘Invitation’ to Oracle
“On September 15, less than two weeks after the Commission launched its extended probe, SAP CEO Leo Apotheker wrote a letter to Oracle’s Larry Ellison. The letter, which we have seen and hasn’t previously been reported on, reads in full: “As you know, we have significant concerns about Oracle’s proposed takeover of Sun. We renew our invitation to meet to attempt to resolve our concerns and other open issues between our companies. Please let us know if and when you would like to meet.””
November 6: eWeek – Former CEO: MySQL’s Installed Base Will Keep it Independent
“”MySQL most certainly competes with Oracle,” Mickos said. “And successfully so. But what must be remembered in terms of dollars in that competition, it is not significant enough to warrant an antitrust consideration… “I don’t specifically have an opinion on where it should be,” Mickos told eWEEK. “I’m just saying that there’s no rational argument for not letting the company who’s buying Sun, have all of Sun.””
Continue to part two.