Open source database vendor MySQL AB is preparing itself for an initial public offering, and could even be ready to go public before the end of the year, according to its CEO Marten Mickos.
We are planning to go public, Mickos told Computer Business Review in an exclusive interview, adding that the Uppsala, Sweden-based database management vendor is in no hurry to go public after raising $18.5m in Series C funding this time last year and $39m in total.
We have about half the VC money ever raised still unused, he said. We are talking to bankers now but we may take our time, he added. It’s more of a timing issue, but we are making sure we can do it this year if we want to.
As one of the leading second-generation open source software vendors, it has long been predicted that MySQL would follow the likes of Linux distributor Red Hat with a public offering. Now entering its twelfth year, the company has built up just less than 10,000 paying customers, and an installed base estimated to be close to 10 million.
The company grew significantly during 2006, adding 2,500 new customers last year alone, and Mickos said that it had spent 2006 focusing in internal preparations for going public, such as growing its inside sales capabilities and refocusing its engineering group.
During 2006 MySQL also re-jigged its product offering, introducing the MySQL Enterprise subscription offering, including the MySQL Advanced Server Database, as well as the new MySQL Network Monitoring and Advisory Services.
That new offering contributed to a stellar fourth quarter, according to Mickos, and the company will be looking to build on the momentum in 2007 with its new MySQL Enterprise Unlimited site agreement.
The new offering gives customers a company-wide enterprise agreement for just $40,000, a very competitive price given the list price for MySQL Enterprise pricing has a maximum of $4,995 per server per year.
We do have a much lower rate of support calls than a closed source DBMS. New customers don’t believe it, said Mickos. This is the bet: we are saying with $40,000 we can cover our costs.
The Unlimited model is designed to target the installed bases of Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and Sybase databases, making it cost-effective for customers to increase their MySQL deployments.
On the subject of Oracle, MySQL also spent much of 2006 responding to the database giant’s acquisition of the vendor behind its database storage engine of choice, negotiating a new deal with Oracle, as well as partnerships with open source alternatives, and creating its own new engine, codenamed Falcon, which is now in alpha testing.
While the Oracle/InnoDB relationship is back to business as usual, Mickos revealed that Oracle might have another trick up its sleeve after suggestions that it could deliver support services for the MySQL database.
They have hinted to us that they will, said Mickos, indicating that the database giant is planning to repeat its October 2006 Unbreakable Linux plan, which saw it undercut Red Hat with enterprise Linux support.
Despite the competitive threat, Mickos is unmoved. I hope they do that, he said, noting that it would be seen as an endorsement of the open source database, and revealing that Oracle has already inadvertently endorsed the product. Of course, with this Linux offering they are distributing MySQL, he said. We always told Oracle ‘you should distribute our product’, and now they are.
When it does go public, MySQL will be one of only a handful of open source vendors to do so. Red Hat, VA Linux (now VA Software), and Caldera (now SCO Group) led the way in 1999 and 2000 before the dot-com crash took its toll on the IPO market.
Since then, Madrakesoft (now Mandriva) made its debut on the Euronext Marche Libre in July 2001, Turbolinux eventually found its way to the Japanese Osaka Securities Exchange in September 2005, while Trolltech announced its initial listing on the Oslo Bors in July 2006.
Another open source vendor planning to go public is Sourcefire, which announced in October 2006 that it intended to raise $75m from an IPO on Nasdaq. The company has not yet set a date for its offering.