Open source is not about Wall Street

Why is Ellison fighting so hard for full control of mySQL, if not to kill its ambition and reduce its value?
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

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.

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