Culture

What Oracle gets with MySQL

Oracle didn't buy an open-source hippie commune in MySQL, but rather a tough-minded money machine.

While the open-source community wrings its hands over Oracle's intentions relative to MySQL, and while Oracle may be fretting about how to marry the more hippie-esque tendencies of the MySQL open-source software crowd with its need to make the database acquisition pay dividends, both sides can relax. MySQL has long been at the forefront of figuring out open-source monetization, with Zack Urlocker (formerly EVP of Products) and Marten Mickos (CEO) leading the charge.

MySQL, in other words, is a great example of how Oracle can make open source pay. MySQL is much more like Oracle than I originally thought.

Urlocker, now vice president of Lifecycle Marketing at Sun, wrote recently of the science he has been applying to the open-source lead process for MySQL, and how he has been spreading it throughout Sun:

My goal is to take best practices from MySQL, Sun, and elsewhere in the industry and fill the sales pipeline for all of Sun's products. There's a large class of products that can benefit from the high-volume/low-touch lead generation, nurturing, and scoring approach that we built at MySQL. One of the goals I set for the team was to increase the "top of funnel" inquiry or raw lead volume for sales.

Urlocker delivered a 13-fold increase in raw lead volume, which is an exceptional number, one that even Oracle would be well-advised to embrace. Yes, through Oracle's acquisitions it has years' worth of cross-selling and upselling opportunities, but in its new open-source assets, it also has a way to drive volume of net new leads.

This is the sort of activity one would expect of Oracle: big goals and operational excellence to achieve them. I suspect that it's just one example of the people value Oracle acquired when it bought Sun and, in particular, MySQL, which has spent years honing its open-source lead generation and conversion models.

In MySQL, Oracle bought much more than open-source street credibility. It bought some of the best open-source business minds the industry has to offer; people that can help Oracle make open source pay serious dividends. People who think like Oracle does.

I've suggestedthat Oracle may scare away MySQL's brightest minds by drowning its ambition. I now believe I was wrong. A closer analysis reveals two companies with very similar goals: make as much money as possible by serving community and customers.


Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.