Last week we reported that Sun Microsystems will acquire MySQL – the open-source database system that fuels a lot of sites – for 1 billion dollars. CEO of Sun Jonathan Schwartz wrote an insightful post on how the deal took place and why they were interested in the database system giant. Turns out that MySQL’s CEO Marten Mickos wasn’t interested for a long while:
For nearly five years, I’ve been getting together for dinner with Marten Mickos, MySQL’s CEO, catching up on the industry, chatting about trends and business models, and just as the dessert was about to be served… I’d say, “geez, we have so much in common, Marten, we see the world so similarly, what would you think about becoming a part of Sun?” At which point Marten would say he was flattered and honored, pour some milk into his coffee, stir, and start talking about Finland.
So why did MySQL decided that they DID want to think about an acquisition? We asked Marten Mickos himself:
“There were a number of reasons. But firstly, we were not looking for an acquiror – we were going full steam towards an IPO. What made us stop and think and discuss with Sun initially was that they have a brilliant CEO whom we respect highly and who is changing the strategy of the company. Under Jonathan’s leadership, Sun has opensourced more products than any other company. They also have started to partner with companies that traditionally were seen as their competitors. This is such a fresh – and winning – approach that it caught our attention.”
So the five years dinners and the good talks payed off. What else, next to the strategy of Schwartz, made MySQL decide to shake hands on it?
“Well, beyond that, there was a long list of benefits. Sun is focused on innovation and technology, and so are we. Sun targets the global web economy as their market, and so do we. And there are more reasons. Importantly Sun didn’t have a database and we knew we could fit that role perfectly. And to our delight, their corporate culture matches well with ours.”
Alright, that’s all made clear: the deal is a gift from heaven for both companies. Yet, what will it mean for the users of MySQL?
“MySQL will have the same roadmap and strategy, but faster ramp. We have a clear plan for 2008 which we will continue to follow as before. But over time, there will be product improvements that stem from our cooperation with the various product and technology labs of Sun. There will be a much bigger sales force selling MySQL. There will be a more complete support network. And so on.”
I think I can easily state that MySQL and Sun is already THE corporate love story of 2008. And better yet, with a dowry of 1 billion dollars. Marten and his team must have had a great party, right?
“Funnily, not much yet. I think we will celebrate more once the deal finally closes in a month or two.The deal got done on a Tuesday and on Wednesday our all-company meeting started, so we were all very busy and we continue to be so. We did get together in my hotel room and opened a bottle of champagne on the eve of the announcement. But we actually drank more beer, and more specifically Heineken. This was because our secret code name for Sun Microsystems during the negotiation was ‘Heineken’.”