Sun Microsystems will plunk down $1 billion to buy MySQL, the maker of a popular open-source database. Sun said Wednesday that it will pay about $800 million in cash for MySQL’s privately held stock and will assume about $200 million worth of options. MySQL CEO Marten Mickos will join Sun’s senior executive team after the transaction closes. The acquisition is a bold move for Sun, which has embraced open-source software and development practices in an effort to garner more revenue from its software business. Until now, it has sold support services for a competing open-source database, PostgreSQL. Company executives said they will continue to support PostgreSQL and continue to partner with database giant Oracle.
MySQL, founded in 1995, is one of the most successful open-source companies. It’s part of the popular combination of open-source development products referred to as LAMP, for Linux, Apache Web server, MySQL and the PHP development language, which is broadly used on the Internet and within companies. Mickos had previously said that the company intended to go public rather than be acquired. Its business model is to give away the source code and its database for free and to charge customers an ongoing subscription fee for support and services. Speaking during a conference call, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said he estimated MySQL’s revenue over the past year was in the $60-$70 million range. Who said you can’t make money with free software?