Interview of MySQL CEO about Open Source business model

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Interview of MySQL CEO about Open Source business model

Post by rliskey » Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:47 pm

Some highlights...

You openly acknowledge that only one out of a thousand MySQL users ever pays. Would you ever consider going partially closed-source and making some code and products proprietary?
We’ve had that debate many times. I think we might win a few new customers, but we would lose 2 million users. We’re not ready for that kind of compromise. We also look at other companies who have built closed-source products on top of open-source ones. They don’t seem successful.

I think we are well protected against predatory behavior by our competitors. When you download MySQL, it’s just GPL code. But the code is owned by us. We have the copyright, we determine what goes into it, we put in the bug fixes. There’s nobody else with that core skill.

Secondly, an important part of our paid subscription can’t be copied. Our technical support is not copyable by others. Our monitoring services are not copyable.

You seem to be a very grounded businessman who just happens to be in the open-source business. Do you get pressure from MySQL fans who want you to be more ... “lefty” or something?
I am very passionate about open source. And I do believe that it is a superior method. But at the same time, I must be pragmatic. So when they say being dogmatic is very important for the Free Software Foundation — well, they should be. That’s what we respect them for. But running a business is not about dogma. We are not judgmental about our customers or partners. We are happy to partner with closed-source companies. We believe that in the long run, open source will win anyhow.

There’s nothing leftist about open source. This is a common view in America that is incorrect. Sharing doesn’t make you a leftist. I mean, who are the most sharing people in the world, by charitable contributions? It is Americans.

Our customers are not against us making money; it’s that they’re for freedom. So make as much money as you can, but don’t touch the freedom. That’s what they’re saying.

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