Tuesday, February 5. 2008
Over the last several weeks, M&As have been the main news of choice. IMO, the Oracle/BEA, Sun/MySQL and even SpringSource/Covalent aren't the most "interesting" ones regarding what-it-all-means-for-open-source. The reason is simple: for the most part, the mindsets of the companies are very, very similar.
Look at Oracle/BEA. Here you have a large proprietary company buying a smaller proprietary one. I mean come on, how much more boring can you get? What about Sun/MySQL? Well, here you have a company (Sun) who is really trying hard to "be" the open source company, buying a company that is an open source company. Again, as far as alignment of philosophies behind open source and how it relates to your business, the two mesh relatively well. Same with SpringSource and Covalent, except the alignment is very, very meshed at the get-go.
So when proprietary buys proprietary, or open source buys open source, it's really a big yawn-fest. The believers keep on believing, and the non-believers keep on being skeptical.
That's why the Nokia/Trolltech and, even more importantly, the Microsoft/Yahoo scenarios are, at least for me, the ones worth their weight in popcorn. When a company perceived as "closed source" or "proprietary" takes a huge interest in open-source based (or "open source friendly") companies, then it makes me sit up and take notice.
Of course, those whose existences thrive on FUD look at all this as an attempt to destroy open source by these companies; that a commercial proprietary company's only reason for obtaining an open source company is to divide and conquer. But maybe, just maybe, these companies are finally figuring out which way the wind is blowing, and want to re-align themselves, to see open source not as competition, per se, but as complimentary.
At least, that's the optimist in me talking...
PS: Of course, ALL of the mergers/acquisitions are interesting in other ways as well... but I'm just looking at them from an open source PoV.