Open source is not about Wall Street

Open source is not about Wall Street

Summary: Why is Ellison fighting so hard for full control of mySQL, if not to kill its ambition and reduce its value?


Wall Street has awoken to a stunning (for them) realization.

Open source is not about them.

Wall Street can't believe this, because as you know everything is about them. Everything in the world revolves around them and their little schemes.

But it's true. Open source was not created with Wall Street in mind.

What's the use of it if it doesn't enrich Wall Street?

Quite a lot.

Open source creates enormous value, but most of this value is captured by customers, not by open source businesses, and certainly not by Wall Street. It goes from developers to consumers, and cuts out the middle man. Wall Street in this case is the middle man.

This is not to say you can't make money on open source. IBM makes a ton. Google makes a ton, too. Microsoft has figured out the trick. So have thousands of service companies, maybe tens of thousands around the world. It's not just Red Hat.

The problem is that Wall Street has only one concept of value, namely something it can exploit, sell stock on, take fees on. Open source doesn't fit the mold so Wall Street figures it's worthless.

Thus they don't understand what the brouhaha over mySQL and Oracle is all about. They figure mySQL is a little open source company that got bought, then bought again. They think of it the way they think of Johan Santana or other Amazin' busts, and they wonder what the fuss is about.

The fuss is about the fact that Oracle has stated, quite plainly, that they intend to bury mySQL, not praise it. They're going to treat it as one would the acquisition of any competitor. So they plan to slot it into the product line as a starter database, an adjunct, certainly not anything that can compete with Oracle's system.

That is what mySQL has been. That is what mySQL is. That is not what mySQL wants to become. That's not what its community members think it should be. And many resent the idea that Wall Street or Larry Ellison is going to turn thumbs down on their ambition.

Ellison may be right, not only about what mySQL is but what it can possibly become. If he spun control of the code base into a foundation, however, that would be someone else's problem. Why does he want it?

It's a valid question. Why is Ellison fighting so hard for full control of mySQL, if not to kill its ambition and reduce its value?

Wall Street's answer is that Ellison has the gold, and that the golden rule is he who has the gold makes the rules. That's  Wall Street. They talk there of value, but they're really talking about money, about a quick profit.

That's not how open source works. In open source, control goes to whoever invests time and money into improving the code. Value is in the code, not in its sale. Ellison wants the power without taking that responsibility. In fact he's demanding it.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Data Centers, Data Management, Open Source, Software

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  • only M$ ia about wall street greed

    and yet it failed to deliver because of its flawed business model.
    Linux Geek
    • What is the Linux business model?

      Wait for Google to "commercialize" Linux and make a bunch of money off the backs of develoepers who built it for free. Linux people basically just want to praise the underdog and fight "the evil big man." MS isn't so big and isn't so evil any more. However, Google is counting on the fact that you're thinking like a 1997 developer. They want you to give them all your development time. If Google wins with Chromium OS, they will make billions off an OS that they didn't pay a dime for. You Linux people will have made it and they cash in. Now, that is what I call evil. I don't understand how anyone could be propping up a system where they put all the time and effort into it and someone else gets all the money. But I guess I'm just old-fashioned. MS may be "old" but all the code in their OS has been paid for. Developers actually get paid.
      A Gray
  • RE: Open source is not about Wall Street

    First of all, it's MySQL, not mySQL. Second, neither Oracle nor any other company on the planet can "kill MySQL", precisely because it is open source, as evidenced by MySQL forks such as drizzle (

    So I'm not really sure what the point of your post is, other than to spread FUD, because Larry Ellison, no matter how large his yacht may be, can't control the fate of MySQL any more than I can control the weather.
  • The answer to the Golden Rule

    "My way or the highway," may work for proprietary, closed code, but with Open Source there is always a FORK in the road.

    MySQL can easily become OurSQL. Larry needs to think about what he actually bought. ([b]HINT: [/b][i]It's not the code.[/i])
  • RE: Open source is not about Wall Street

    If it's open source, what difference does it make if Oracle owns one particular snapshot? Can't the open source community continue to develop MySQL, or is this a dog-in-the-manger issue? Seems to me you wish Oracle good luck and get over it.
  • The point is

    For all the people that have responded before me, here is what I think:

    That is the point of the post. Wall street and Ellison think that they'll own MySQL when they'll only own the name. The name is valuable as long as they "invests time and money into improving the code."

    If they support it, it makes money for them. If they don't support it, it will make money for someone else.

    Actually that is one of the premises for promoting/adopting open source: You can pay anybody to support it, you are not tied to one vendor.
  • What does, "full control of mySQL", really mean in a business sense?

    Would you give us some more facts. How does one "control mySQL", for starters?

    I could guess one might hire lead MySQL developers to paint the walls and buy out any developer's copyrights/patents in an open source project to gain control of it, but I doubt that would work for every open source project. Anyway, I'm not going to research this, myself. More detail please: at least enough flesh out this article.
    • What control means

      Control means you have the main code base, you
      direct it, you have the forge site and the
      commercial contracts, not to mention the
      copyright. (A mySQL fork must change its name.)

      It means you have the business, and all the assets
      of the business.
  • Wall Street is tech savvy

    Wall Street (at least Bank of America, N.A., Barclays
    Bank PLC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche B?rse Systems, Goldman
    Sachs, JPMorgan Chase Bank Inc. N.A) are behind AMPQ, an
    open protocol for message queues. Wall Street was tired
    of vendor lock-in and realized that they could do
    something about it. If AMPQ works as well as it seems
    like it should, look for more Wall Street investments to
    cut the legs out of vendors that make them pay
    exorbitantly for lock-in.
  • completely missed the point

    Why would Oracle want to bury MySQL?
    Do you seriously believe that if Oracle ditches MySQL, everyone is going to go out and buy Oracle? Of course not - they would move to Postgres for example.
    MySQL does not complete with Oracle but it may be a foot in the door for future sales. If anything MySQL is more likely to complete with MS SQL Server and I don't think Oracle is going to cry about one less MS licence! It could also offer better migration tools - as good as MySQL is, people will outgrow it.

    Oracle is already in the Open Source camp - it has Berkeley DB and has done nothing to bury that. It uses Java extensively. It has no platform dependences.

    Oracle has committed to MySQL.
    • re: completely missed the point

      Given that burying an open source project is not an option, and that Larry Ellison is nobodies fool, what is left?

      But, But, whatever is left, that I can think of, does not require a purchase, so what the hell did he buy?

      Just the Name?
    • SQL Express

      SQL Express is free and just as good as mySQL. And there isn't just a migration path from SQL Express, its actually the same environment. I don't need to convert anything to go from SQL Express to SQL Server. I jsut backup the database and restore it in SQL Server. I laugh at all the hoops people are willing to jump through just to say they are "open source" developers. When I hear open source, I hear "I will do anything to prove I'm cool, regardless of what it costs me in time or effort." Its not a fair response, of course, as there are lots of good open source products out there, but its how I see open source developers.
      A Gray
  • RE: Open source is not about Wall Street

    What does it mean to have "full control" over MySQL?

    If they've managed to acquire copyright over all the previous contributors' code, then I suppose they could choose to relicense any subsequent versions they produce under an exclusively proprietary license, or to withdraw distribution of the code entirely.

    Of course, that wouldn't prevent anybody from continuing to exercise their existing rights to previous versions of the code that they'd already downloaded, including the right to modify and redistribute it.

    They could also choose to exercise their right to control the trademark over the name "MySQL". Again, that wouldn't prevent anybody from continuing to use and distribute any previously open-sources versions of the software, but it would prohibit them from using the name "MySQL" to describe the software, much like the debacle that is the "IceWeasel" browser in Debian.
  • Irony

    What's funny is that Wall Street (or, specifically, the NYSE) runs on Linux -- which was chosen to capture value for the customer (NYSE), not the vendor.

    Blindness, anyone?
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Uh, yeah he can.

    If he owns MySQL, which the story says he does, he can do
    whatever he wants with it, including kill it. Being open
    source doesn't change that fact one bit.
  • What's in a name

    Whenever Open Source software dies, it forks under a new name. Remember Netscape. It died an untimely death and like the mythical Phoenix, rose from the ashes as Firefox.
  • A rose by any other name...

    I think that you need to review the concept of "forking". The MySQL name brand can be killed, but that doesn't make business sense. It makes more sense to grow it with the resources that he already has.
  • If open source mySQL even partially pays its own way...

    ... Ellison has bought a development team and a sandbox to play in, and the Brooklyn Dodgers of databases. Don't need more motivation than that.
  • RE: Open source is not about Wall Street

    The aforementioned firms have placed us in financial ruins, I think they lack savy!
    Neo IT