Keynote #3 – Monty Widenius on the MariaDB MySQL story

Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius started the keynote by providing a brief history of MySQL and MariaDB. The MySQL code was released in December 1995 under a dual licensing model. Oracle bought the related InnoDB engine in 2005, and MySQL Ab was sold to Sun in March 2008 for $1 billion. Monty and others left Sun in Feb 2009 to work on the MariaDB engine, and Oracle started to acquire Sun in April 2009. The original MySQL developers started focussing on MariaDB. MySQL Finland AB took investment and hired a new CEO in 2001. David Axmark and Monty had been using Free software for 10 years and wanted to give something back. They earned money by doing software developing and consulting. Choosing to release MySQL under an open source license would not harm their income. After 2 months they were profitable and could spend all their time on developing and spreading MySQL. MySQL Ab was a virtual company, and between 1995 and 1999 they grew from 2 to 15 people, but had no sales or marketing. Getting the name MySQL out there was difficult – but they were in the right place at the right time. The web was emerging, and everyone needed a free, web-optimised database. Monty personally wrote more than 30,000 emails to help people with MySQL. After the 3rd year they began to be approached by investors, but they didn’t want to sell the whole company and lose all the control at once, so they spent 5 years developing MySQL until it was ‘good enough’ – and then sold it for $1 billion.

Monty explained that when you take in investors, you get money but lose control. The company will either go public or get sold.

Monty Program Ab started in Feb 2009 after Monty’s exit from Mysql / Sun and  shifted focus from Maria storage engine to MariaDB after Oracle acquired Sun. Monty Program Ab drives, but doesn’t own MariaDB development. They are a founding member of the Open Database Alliance. MariaDB was created to keep the MySQL talent together, to ensure that a free version of MySQL always exists – and this became even more important after Oracle announced it was going to buy Sun and MySQL.