MySQL's sales catching up with Red Hat's

The open-source database leader just had an $81 million quarter, making the $1 billion valuation of acquirer Sun Microsystems start to look like a bargain.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

Perhaps Sun Microsystems' valuation of MySQL wasn't too far off. Sun acquired the open-source database leader in January 2008 for a whopping $1 billion, a sum that many rational people thought was way too high.

Perhaps they were wrong; $1 billion is beginning to look like a bargain.

Sun's quarterly earnings report for MySQL suggests that the company brought in $81 million in billings for the second quarter of 2009, a 55 percent jump over the $52 million in sales it did during the first quarter.

Sun Microsystems

That is phenomenal growth, and it puts MySQL on a fast track to catch up and perhaps surpass Red Hat, in terms of sales.

Having said that, something seems a bit off in the numbers, as Sun reported sales of $198 million for MySQL and infrastructure in fiscal year 2007. MySQL said it brought in barely a fourth of that in 2007. (Note: The number quoted in this CNET article is for revenue, not sales, but still...there wouldn't be a $150 million difference.) Clearly, Sun is adding something to the MySQL data ("infrastructure"?) that inflates the numbers.

Even so, given the growth in MySQL billings, it's beginning to look as if Sun really knew what it was doing when it tapped into the wildly popular but still revenue-shy MySQL. At the time, MySQL was doing roughly $25 million or less in sales per quarter, but immediately after the acquisition, reported earnings for MySQL started to grow--and at a frenetic pace.

I suggested at the time of the MySQL acquisition that the $1 billion valuation wasn't far off those placed on other open-source companies. There is massive value in adoption, and MySQL has always been the king of adoption. Marrying adoption with monetization, as Sun apparently has, is a winning strategy.

Now what do you think open source is worth?

Note: In case it wasn't clear from the above, Sun is clearly adding to MySQL's numbers with its "Infrastructure" component. It's unclear how much of that $81 million is pure MySQL subscription bookings, but after speaking with a few MySQL executives, the business is doing better than it ever has before. Whether it's $81 million in sales (and, again, that's not GAAP revenue) or something lower, it's still impressive, and demonstrates that there's another big open-source business on tap to complement Red Hat's exceptional business. That's a Very Good Thing for the open-source business community.

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