Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thank you, David (Axmark)!


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 Skomakarböle, 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 Mårten 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.

28 comments:

  1. David,

    Hejsan! I'm glad to have worked with you and feel luckly to have you as a friend. I will always remember you and your camera, the first time I met you in 1999 at Andover.net's offices --- to discuss adding this feature to MySQL called replication. This too was around the time that MySQL was open sourced!

    Good luck in whatever roles you end up performing in life!

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  2. Thanks, David! Take it easy eh.
    And... I know how good it is to spend more time with family.

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  3. David! So long and thanks for all the fish .-)

    Mikael

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  4. While I more than understand, this is a sad day for me. I still hope I will see you "around" on some MySQL or free software event!

    I wish you all of luck, and I owe you big for recruiting me to work for MySQL back in 2003 :-)

    kent

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  5. Hear! Hear! Thanks David!

    MySQL has been an amazing ride, so far. It's been an organization that I've been proud to work for and it's been an honor working with David.

    --Eric

    (And thank you Kaj for your post.)

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  6. Well, I can understand. Corporate rules in use by proprietary or "ex-proprietary" corporations are crafted for soulless robots and acceptable only for dumb people who agrees to abandon their rights, feelings, freedoms and whatever else and rather obey these tons of moron formal rules, sucking corporate policies, etc. No any really talented and bright soul could survive long time in such hostile environments. Sorry, just my private opinition.

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  7. [...] How important was David to MySQL? As Kaj explains: [...]

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  8. [...] Här har vi Oracle-grundaren Larry Ellisons skuta i Stockholm för ett par Ã¥r sedan, och i den lite mindre bÃ¥ten sitter David Axmark som var med och startade MySQL (en liten men snabbväxande utmanare till just Oracle). Fast David har säkert rÃ¥d att uppgradera efter att MySQL i vÃ¥ras sÃ¥ldes för en miljard dollar… Tipstack till Kaj Arnö. [...]

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  9. MySQL has been an amazing experience, thank you for making it possible, and I hope and trust our paths will continue to cross.

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  10. task-related functionality - I was always impressed with the modular arch of mysql and the ability to change from InnoB to MyISAM records, simple change in the db..
    It seems MySQL has come so far is so little time - It really has inspired so many people to dive head-first into developing database applications. Thank god we have MySQL...

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  11. I love the Falcon in his shirt pocket.. :-)

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  12. Isaac Rabinovitch9 October 2008 at 01:14

    Why does David need an upgrade? He has a real boat you can do some messing around in. Larry just has a floating motel.

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  13. Thanks for all the well wishes!

    I will see many of you at different FLOSS events around the globe, so its not that big goodbye.

    As for the boat upgrade I do like boats that behave as boats :-)

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  14. [...] David Axmark (Mitgründer der MySQL AB) und Developer der freien Datenbank MySQL verlässt Sun, um ein neues Unternehmen zu gründen. An MySQL wolle er jedoch in einer ungezwungeneren Weise weiter mitarbeiten. Sun hatte Anfang 2008 das skandinavische Unternehmen MySQL für 1 Milliarde US-$ gekauft. golem.de blogs.mysql.com [...]

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  15. Thanks David. Sorry to see you go but I understand the reasoning.

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  16. I (partially) agree with Isaac: I don't think David needs a 'boat upgrade'. If anything, Larry Ellison might need such an upgrade: that little 'yacht' pictured above is too small for his ego - but then again, so would probably be the RMS Queen Mary II... Come to think of it, there's simply not enough ocean for Larry's 'just right' boat ;)

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  17. [...] MySQL :: Observations by Kaj Arnö @Sun MySQL David Axmark leaves Sun, frustrated by "all the rules" (tags: davidaxmark mysql sun kajarno) [...]

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  18. Adoré par ses pères, Sakila s'en va vers la mer profonde, braver les requins d'eau trouble.

    Merci David de lui avoir fournis ses meilleures armes , l'open source et la communauté

    Les vrais dauphins n'ont pas besoin d'armure et de bazooka :)

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  19. [...] co-founder resigns from Sun No, not that one. David Axmark resigned stating “I HATE all the rules that I need to follow, and I also HATE breaking them. It would [...]

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  20. People like David have made it possible for small scale entrepreneurs like us to ride high. MySQL has given us a good and cheap alternative for our projects.

    With love from Nigeria.

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  21. Shame on SUN but great job by David. You just opened the way for lot of small scale entrepreneur and it will never stop as you are free and open to all

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  22. [...] current events, the company got acquired, and since then, a few things have happened. They lost a co-founder, their new parent’s financial fortunes took a tumble (prompting advice), and they (finally) [...]

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  23. [...] departure is a big loss for Sun and follows quickly after the departures of Monty Widenius and David Axmark. Permalink | Technorati Links | Bookmark on del.icio.us | digg it Categories: [...]

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  24. [...] Axmark, MySQL co-founder and the reason MySQL is open source , shortly after the acquisition left because frustrated with the company’s [...]

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  25. [...] oriented database left last week. Former MySQL CEO and front man Marten Mickos soon followed. (David Axmark, Widenius’ co-founder had already hit the trail last [...]

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  26. [...] oriented database left last week. Former MySQL CEO and front man Marten Mickos soon followed. (David Axmark, Widenius’ co-founder, had already hit the trail last [...]

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  27. [...] MySQL development, and several months ago MySQL co-founder David Axmark also left the company, citing the confining nature of corporate [...]

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