System News
MySQL Founder Writes to EU Regarding Sun-Oracle Merger
Urges Swift Approval to Ensure Database Market Remains Competitive
October 15, 2009,
Volume 140, Issue 2

the positive and massive influence MySQL has on the DBMS market cannot be controlled by a single entity ... The users of MySQL exert a more powerful influence in the market than the owner does.

-- Marten Mickos

Former CEO of MySQL Marten Mickos has written a letter of appeal to Neelie Kroes, the European Union's competition commissioner, urging that Oracle's pending acquisition of Sun be approved for the good of the market and MySQL.

The letter dated October 8, reads in part:

"...the EU Commission is concerned about a risk of undue concentration of power in the database market. Having been the CEO of MySQL from 2001 to 2009, and built a business that was serving a new market unmet by Oracle and others, I can agree with the questions posed, but I do not share the concerns that have been expressed. In the following, I will explain why.

In brief, my reasoning is as follows:

1. Oracle has as many compelling business reasons to continue the ramp-up of the MySQL business as Sun Microsystems and MySQL previously did, or even more.

2. Even if Oracle, for whatever reason, would have malicious or ignorant intent regarding MySQL (not that I think so), the positive and massive influence MySQL has on the DBMS market cannot be controlled by a single entity--not even by the owner of the MySQL assets. The users of MySQL exert a more powerful influence in the market than the owner does."

Back in September, the European Commission (EC) announced it would be taking an in-depth look at Oracle's proposed $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun to ensure the database market remained competitive. The Commission, which is the European Union's executive and regulatory branch, set a Jan. 19, 2010 deadline to make the decision on whether to sanction the move or propose some modifications.

Mickos makes clear in his letter that he believes the investigation is harming MySQL and competition within the database market. "Every new day of uncertainty is potentially very harmful to the various businesses of Sun, reducing competition in the market," he closes. "A delay in the closing of this transaction is therefore only going to work against the respectable goal that you set out to achieve when launching the probe into this acquisition."

The motivation of Mickos' letter has many speculating. In an internetnews article, Martin Reynolds, research vice president and fellow with Gartner, said, "You have to ask yourself, is there any possibility this gentlemen has any compensation from Sun in the form of stock that he stands to gain from an Oracle buyout?"

Mickos said in the letter and on his Twitter feed that he does not, outlining his intentions: "...I presently have no commercial or financial interests in the MySQL ecosystem, Sun, or Oracle (or any other vendor in the DBMS market, for that matter), other than my loyalty to Sun employees in general and the MySQL team in particular."

Reynolds also questions why the EC is hung up on Oracle and MySQL anyway. "...why is the EC pursuing this, and the answer is mostly likely complaints from SAP and IBM. Generally speaking with the EC, when they investigate someone, there's somebody behind the scenes instigating it. Microsoft has Opera behind it, Intel has AMD. So you have to ask who is behind it?"

Despite Mickos' letter, Reynolds doesn't believe this move will make a bit of difference in speeding up the EC. Others aren't so sure.

"If the EC's concern is how Oracle will manage the software, then having the former CEO, who has great credence with the open source community, come out and say it's all good, I wouldn't say it's a slam dunk, but acting essentially as a character witness for Oracle could help," noted Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT.

While Scott Testa, a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, said, "It may have some sway, but by nature that governing body is super independent and they just seem like a group that does not like to be told what to do, no matter who it is. So it may have some sway, but I think [Oracle] may have to make some kind of concessions."

More Information

Edited Full Text of Mickos' Letter - hosted by Matt Asay on The Open Road blog, CNET

European Commission Launches Investigation into Oracle-Sun Deal

US Justice Department Approves Oracle's Acquisition of Sun

Sun-Oracle Deal Scrutinized by European and US Regulators

In-depth Analysis on the Impact of the Oracle-Sun Merger

Sun Stockholders Approve Oracle Acquisition

Sun to be Acquired by Oracle

Read More ... [ more...]



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