At the end of the Orlando meeting in January this year when the Sun acquisition was announced, I remember sitting next to MySQL's co-founder David Axmark in the bus going to some evening event. "What do you want to do now, with so many opportunities opening up?" was my question to him, partly as his friend, partly as his colleague and partly as his line manager. David seemed very confident in the future of MySQL within Sun, but less sure about his own future role.
With that as a background, and knowing David since well over 20 years, I was not all that surprised to read his resignation letter, and in particular his reasoning for resigning:
I have thought about my role at Sun and decided that I am better off in smaller organisations. I HATE all the rules that I need to follow, and I also HATE breaking them. It would be far better for me to "retire" from employment and work with MySQL and Sun on a less formal basis.
Let me recap what David has done for MySQL. David is the reason MySQL is FOSS. Without David, MySQL wouldn't be GPL (Monty originally planned a closed-source product). David is also the reason people associate MySQL primarily with Sweden and less so with Finland, since MySQL AB was founded in Uppsala to be close to David (and our third co-founder Allan Larsson).
(The above scene from Stockholm harbour shows the boats of database entrepreneurs David Axmark and Larry Ellison; after the acquisition of MySQL by Sun, David may afford an upgrade, even after his donation to the Software Freedom Law Center).
I wish David would have stayed longer at Sun, but I understand why he decided to resign and I respect his decision. I'm happy he's fine with working as a consultant for Sun, doing speaking engagements and connecting us with his huge network. It's very much appreciated.
We share so many fond memories together, starting from our first meeting sometimes in the 1980s at Monty's place in Gamla SkomakarbÃƒÂ¶le, in the outskirts of Helsinki. And then there was the memorable trip to MySQL's first CeBIT appearance in 2001, just after I had agreed with MÃƒÂ¥rten and Monty to join MySQL. And hiking in Larry Stefonic's bivvy sacks on a mountain in Washington. And countless other stories.
I've learnt so much from David, particularly as he's been my predecessor, role model and esteemed colleague in plenty of respects over the time at MySQL AB. He has lead Engineering, before we started to recruit people with the title of "VP Engineering". He's lead Internal IT. He's lead the Community efforts. He's worked with the FSF. He's managed and moderated his somewhat more, ehmm, hot-tempered co-founder Monty. He's travelled the world, with a particular fondness for Asia. And he's taken oodles of digital pictures. Not that I've followed David in all aspects, but it does seem I've copied him in the above respects, with sometimes a shorter, sometimes longer latency.
You won't be surprised that I feel a deep gratitude for what David has done. In particular, I want to thank him for introducing me to all the wonderful people in the FOSS community. And I'm sure all Sun Dolphins will join me in the most important thank-you note:
Thanks David for having and pursuing the vision that made you found MySQL!
Lest we become overly sentimental, let me say that I am confident David will continue in his role as an overall FOSS ambassador. Nearly a quarter century working on FOSS as a pioneer gives David insights that few of us have, that Sun is happy to continue learning from, and that I'm sure David is happy to share with budding Open Source companies.