The only criticism of the deal I could possibly give is that MySQL is still on the early phase of an exponential adoption curve and I think they’ve got lots of growth yet to come.
But really, a billion dollars has a lot if not most of that growth factored into the price already.
Think of what they get: huge mindshare in a 30,000 person company with an established presence and sales channel throughout the world. They get that mindshare because that same company is one that has struggled to find the next big thing, the next huge thing that is going to change the landscape of enterprise IT. Well they’ve found it. And they’re going to get to work on making it happen.
Not to mention that while Sun has not always open-sourced as early as they should have, once they do open-source software they’re pretty much always done the right thing by the community of users.
Not to mention that the nice thing about open-source is that we don’t really have to worry too much about it; it’s Sun’s problem to get ROI on a billion buckaroonees but if they give up at any point, we can fork it and take back over. We can actually do that now if we need to. I remember when Oracle bought RDB and then proceeded to kill it gently with neglect. The only way they could get away with that is because they owned the source. MySQL is not vulnerable to that kind of strategy.
And if I were a founder, I’d much rather go to Sun than to Google or to Yahoo, the other likely targets (mostly because of their vast adoption of MySQL coupled with deep pockets). Sun is a product company, a software company, and a support company, that actually sells these things, knows how to sell them successfully and take them to market long-term. And it’s filled with geniuses who are dying to hook to the next big thing.
In my opinion, a great move by MySQL.
P.S. I have started to reflect on how this changes the challenge posed by MySQL to Oracle. I think it changes it a lot, and in fact makes it a much more difficult challenge. I may post on that subject too if I can scrounge the time.