Editor's Note: MySQL--The Next Big Bargain?
Jul 23, 2004, 23:30 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
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By Brian Proffitt
What I want to know is--who's going to buy MySQL?
Now, this is not to say that I think MySQL is some sort of
weakened, prey-like mode that means that it's just begging to be
snapped up. No, this is me armchair-quarterbacking the potential
for a really solid company to get snapped up by another, bigger,
company because what they make is really, really good.
Word of warning--I am not as smart about this is Melanie
Hollands, so take my speculations with a huge (like the size of
Lot's wife) grain of salt. Case in point: if I were consistently
good at this, I'd be living in Fiji.
'Way back in January, I held forth a prediction that Red Hat, in
a move to position itself against the then two-month old
Novell/SUSE acquisition, would try to buy MySQL. My theory was that
Novell/SUSE would be the networking-Linux combination and Red
Hat/MySQL would be the database-Linux powerhouse. Actually, I think
this theory could still work: if Red Hat acquires MySQL, it would
be a nice addition to its product line.
Now, however, there is talk that Novell should take in the
Swedish database company. This seems like a better fit, since a
MySQL-like database would fit nicely into the Star/OpenOffice
suite. (This is not my idea, by the way, it was put forth in a
article on The Register.)
On first glance, it seems a very viable proposition, though I
wonder if Novell will have the wherewithall to buy MySQL so soon
after it's Ximian and SUSE buys.
Of the two, Red Hat still has a slight lead in my mind on
getting a hold of MySQL, if they want it. They have more money, and
I wonder if they are a bit tired of being overshadowed by the
Novell limelight. Not to mention Oracle, which just churns out
publicity like you would not believe. A MySQL acquisition would
certainly shake things up.
Red Hat's partnership with Oracle itself may actually but a
damper on this deal. If Red Hat were suddenly to become partly a
database company, it is doubtful that Oracle would keep its
partnership (with its sales channels) with Red Hat for very
(And, in case you've jumped the same synapse I have, I have
briefly wondered if Oracle might like to swallow MySQL up. But I
figure the current antitrust investigations aimed at them will keep
such Borg-like maneuvers in check for a while.)
Granted, none of this rampant speculation is going to be worth
the screen its printed on if MySQL declines to be bought. I have
definitely not heard any indications from them that hints they are
for sale. There is always the big reason why any company would want
to merge with another: access to the other company's customer base,
but that is true for all companies, not just MySQL.
MySQL is a company that wants to be better understood.
They have run into some sharp opposition from the vocal side of the
open source community regarding their dual licensing practices, and
aligning themselves with a bigger open source player will go a long
way towards settling that commontion down.
Mergers and acquisitions are not necessary for any company to be
successful, and MySQL's product lines and partnerships with
companies like SAP are certainly indicators that this firm can do
well enough on it own. It's very success, though, may make it all
that much more appealing for others.