|By Maureen O'Gara||
|December 29, 2009 06:00 AM EST||
Mergers & Acquisitions on Ulitzer
Bucking an apparent deal between Oracle and the European Commission to approve Oracle’s acquisition of Sun and its MySQL database, MySQL creator Monty Widenius kicked off a worldwide petition late Monday aimed at “saving MySQL from Oracle.”
He vowed to keep going until the “the very end of the process.”
Widenius is appealing to MySQL users to sign a petition that asks regulators to force Oracle to divest MySQL, or at least make Oracle commit to a linking exception for applications that use MySQL with the client libraries (for all programming languages) for plug-ins and libmysql or require Oracle to release all past and future versions of MySQL until December 2012 under the Apache Software License 2.0.
Widenius doesn’t mention that his latest start-up Monty Program Ab and its MariaDB fork of MySQL would benefit from any of his proposed remedies. He also doesn’t mention that he had no reservations about Oracle acquiring MySQL when it made a bid for the company before Sun bought it.
Now, however, he claims Oracle’s acquisition of the open source database would be a conflict of interest and that the undertakings Oracle gave to the EC a few weeks ago are “empty promises.”
Widenius and his henchman Florian Mueller, who are working against an EC deadline of January 27, mean to drop the petition in the lap of regulators beyond the EC, but won’t say who exactly “since regulators in some other places wouldn’t like us to talk about such activities in public. Within the EU, the petition will also be sent to the 27 national antitrust authorities of the bloc’s member countries, which will meet in Brussels in mid-January to discuss the Oracle/Sun merger case.”
Mueller previously suggested third-world countries such as South Africa, Russia and China might prove a speed bump.
A couple of hours into the petition’s circulation, it had all of five signatures.
In a FAQ, Widenius, who means to send the thing to “regulators, governmental bodies, parliaments and journalists” starting January 4, the first working day of the New Year, said “it’s not just about the absolute number but also about how quickly people sign up and whether signatures keep coming in all the time at a high rate.”
After January 4, he said, “We will keep gathering support until the very end of the process and it’s important to show continued support. We will probably do multiple deliveries of the petition throughout January and possibly February 2010.”
Widenius, who admits that Oracle’s lawyers will have access to the signers’ names, may not be factoring in a reluctance on the part of MySQL users to tick Oracle off since it’s already declared victory in Europe.
If the Oracle-Sun deal is ultimately blocked, Widenius says it will be Oracle’s fault for making it an “all or nothing” proposition.
He maintains that despite the promises Oracle made it means to confine MySQL “in technological terms and to pull its teeth in terms of sales and marketing.”
“If Oracle promises to spend any given amount of money,” he says, “there’s a large number of ways in which it can fulfill that promise without actually developing MySQL in the way that best helps the market.”
“Promises made by Oracle concerning its future conduct of business can at best have a transitional effect (if any) but cannot ensure true innovation related to MySQL and safeguard MySQL as a major competitive force.”
To get the deal through the EC vetting process, Oracle committed to spend more than $24 million a year for the next three years on MySQL R&D.
The call to sign the petition has gone out in 12 languages to start, with another handful to follow.
It’s starting in English, Chinese, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Romanian, Hungarian, Swedish, Latvian and Estonian with promises of translations to Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Polish and Greek.
Prompted by Oracle bringing users into its confrontation with the EC – users whose opinion Oracle claimed the EC misrepresented – Widenius and Mueller two weeks ago tried to start a write-in e-mail campaign objecting to the acquisition. Evidently it had no impact since Oracle told Wall Street a few days later – after giving the EC 10 undertakings concerning MySQL – that it expected the deal to be approved next month.
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