Unable to convince even the semi-capitalists of the European Union to block Oracle's acquisition of Sun, the founder of MySQL is taking his sorry obstructionist grandstanding to the dictatorships of Russia and China in hopes of currying favor among their corrupt bureaucrats. Oh the irony: that's the very same China Google abandoned last week due to its oppressive stances toward its citizens' use of technology.
"China and Russia can still say No unless there's a real solution in place," MySQL founder Michael Widenius said in a press release earlier today. "They are powerful, self-confident and open-source-friendly countries and they have every right and opportunity to do a better job on this than the EU. Russia just decided to take more time for this review and China proved in the Panasonic-Sanyo case that it stood its ground even after a deal had been cleared by the US and the EU."
Steamrolled in Brussels when the EU heard from large numbers of Oracle customers that the Sun acquisition would have no harmful effect on them, Widenius and his cohorts have shifted their petition-signing efforts to Russia and China. And while I hope Widenius meets with zero success in those countries, I also hope he realizes that these two countries on which he's pinning all his open-source hopes have been known to brandish what we could call a less-than-open view toward public efforts to gather signatures on petitions as well as online expressions of individual opinions.
Maybe he'll realize that the rule of law in Europe and the U.S.—imperfect though it may be—will force Oracle to stick to the 10 commitments it made to seal the EU deal and that no such sense of fairness and consistency will be forthcoming in China and Russia.
"The helpmysql.org campaign already has more than 600 supporters in China and more than 800 in Russia, almost double the number it had a week before," Widenius said in the press release. "The campaign will now work closely with its local supporters in order to support the work of the competition authorities in those two countries and will step up its efforts to collect signatures from local MySQL users."
In recent months, Widenius and his florid spokesman frequently issued equally glowing comments about the anti-capitalist popinjays of the EU, cooing about their vigor and rigor and predicting bad times for Oracle at the hands of those valiant stewards of parity and managed capitalism. Imagine my surprise, then, to see Widenius and his spokesman turn rather viciously on their former heartthrobs, replacing all that pillow talk with some rather harsh language.
Heck, Widenius could have spared himself a lot of emotional tribulations if he'd just read our Oct. 21 column, Global CIO: Can Oracle's Larry Ellison Keep MySQL From EU Whiners?, in which we said this:
"While preposterous, these claims about the horrors that will ensue if Oracle is allowed to keep MySQL come at a terribly critical time as the EU continues to withhold an opinion on Oracle's acquisition of Sun. And that shameful foot-dragging on the part of the EU, along with the cowardly grandstanding of these EU groupies who speak so boldly only because they have absolutely nothing at stake, can now be assigned a very specific and ugly cost: Sun is laying off up to 3,000 employees as part of a restructuring it is being forced to undertake due to the delay in the closing of the Oracle deal."
Instead, Widenius in today's press release chose to say that "as a European I am ashamed of our regulatory system," and went on to lash out at the EU wimps:
"The EC showed courage and competence during most of the investigation but looked very weak in the end," he said. "Mislabeling Oracle's statements related to MySQL as a solution is a dishonest attempt to save face because if an Oracle press release with uselessly vague promises should be all that came out of this effort, it was a waste of time and money.
"They asked us and others for information that wasn't going to matter in the end," Widenius said. "We met with the EC on the 7th and the only point they had in favor of clearance was that Sun is in trouble and they'd have to consider that circumstance. That is no argument at all under competition law because Oracle could have divested MySQL and acquired the rest of Sun anytime."
Well, I hope Widenius gets over the heartache his EC homeys have caused him, and I hope his new infatuation with China and Russia doesn't include any first-hand encounters with the secret police or intelligence services of either country.
And after he spends some time in those totalitarian states, I'll bet he returns home a bit less ashamed of his European status--because he just might get a whole new understanding of what "open" is really all about.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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