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Is the MySQL Acquisition Changing the Culture at Sun?

On January 16, 2008 Sun Microsystems made this deal announcement:

Sun Microsystems Announces Agreement to Acquire MySQL, Developer of the World’s Most Popular Open Source Database
Sun Growth Strategy Accelerates With New Position in $15 Billion Database Market

SANTA CLARA, CA January 16, 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MySQL AB, an open source icon and developer of one of the world’s fastest growing open source databases for approximately $1 billion in total consideration. The acquisition accelerates Sun’s position in enterprise IT to now include the $15 billion database market. Today’s announcement reaffirms Sun’s position as the leading provider of platforms for the Web economy and its role as the largest commercial open source contributor.

Sun’s full press release on MySQL is available here.

There was a great deal of concern in the developer community that this was an attempt to undermine open-source software. Sun, long known for its strong advocacy of its proprietary technology, was viewed with suspicion.

Charles Cooper’s CNET blog has provided an interesting update on this merger integration. MySQL may in fact be a catalyst to change the corporate culture of the acquirer. The article notes:

During a break [at the recent MySQL Conference & Expo], I ran into a Sun employee who told me the question really wasn’t whether Sun would change MySQL but just the reverse. “It’s MySQL thats changing Sun’s culture,” said the employee, who didn’t want to speak for attribution. “In the past, we had all these silly fights by being proprietary. But that’s history.”

It is no surprise that M&A has the power to transform; this will be an interesting development to watch.

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