MariaDB Gets New CEO, CTO and $9 Million VC Injection

MariaDB has about 9 million users in 45 countries, including global brands such as HPE, Wikipedia, Virgin Mobile, and

MariaDB, which has replaced MySQL in the LAMP open-source stack acronym (Linux, MariaDB, Apache and PHP), made news Jan. 21 with venture capital help and the appointments of two key C-level executives.

The company received $9 million in equity financing to support accelerating sales and advanced technology development. Intel Capital and California Technology Ventures were among the investors in the equity financing.

MariaDB also announced the appointment of Michael Howard as the company's CEO, and Michael "Monty" Widenius as CTO, effective Jan. 1. The company and its product are named after Widenius' daughter.

Howard replaces Patrik Sallner, who was with MariaDB since 2012.

MariaDB is a popular open-source database for use in software as a service (SaaS), cloud, and on-premises applications that require high availability, scalability and performance. Built by the founder and core engineering team behind MySQL, MariaDB is now the "M" in LAMP, having displaced MySQL as the default database in the Red Hat and SUSE Linux distributions.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based MariaDB is also included in Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Rackspace and other cloud stacks, and it is the database of choice for IBM Power8. MariaDB has about 9 million users in 45 countries, including global brands, such as HPE, Wikipedia, Virgin Mobile and

MariaDB is a fork in the original MySQL code by Widenius so that "he could do what he always wanted to do," Howard told eWEEK. "That is, what he wanted to do but couldn't under the Oracle banner."

Oracle, the world's largest and most financially successful database company, gained the rights to MySQL as part of the Sun Microsystems acquisition in 2010. While MySQL is, in fact, an open-source database, any upgrades or improvements to the enterprise platform are owned by Oracle—not by the open-source community.

"For a lot of the unicorns of the world, the winter has come for some of those. But for MariaDB, it's the beginning of spring," Howard said. "Ironically, Oracle itself distributes MariaDB inside its 'Unbreakable Linux' system because it is the 'M' in LAMP."

Why has MariaDB made such strides in the past few years over such well-established databases as MySQL and others? Howard was asked. The company is consistently having record quarters.

"Adoption is unprecedented at this point," Howard said. "Two things are happening: a strong distribution system and great adoption. Open source has strategically changed in the last two-plus years. When open source came out, it was a way to let yourself into a proprietary shop to allow frictionless access for developers, sort of an unofficial business model. What's going on now is this: There are so many new threads, challenges and opportunities in the world that you can pick a company, a Fortune 500 or whatever, and find out that they cannot depend on a single vendor to fix a bug or to augment the code to deal with these challenges.

"Even a company the likes of Oracle can no longer stand the velocity of changes that people hit every day. Let's take security, with malware, botnets, different types of SQL injections, and so on. Companies with databases at the heart of their system cannot sit passively aside and wait a year to fix something that could be super-important. It's just not happening anymore."

So having a tight, committed worldwide community like that of MariaDB is the best way at this point to get a bug fix done quickly enough to stop damage, potential damage and/or inefficiencies.

Howard brings years of leadership in the enterprise software, data management and big data industries. His mission is to scale up MariaDB to continue its growth and also to steer the company's technology innovation in partnership with its user community.

"The breadth of MariaDB's customer base and user community is strong validation that open, enterprise-grade products are the future of the database market," Howard said.

Previously, Howard was CEO at C9, which he transformed into a respected predictive analytics company in the CRM space, ultimately leading to its acquisition by InsideSales. Prior to C9, Howard was CMO at Greenplum (now Pivotal), the big data division of EMC. He also served as CEO at Ingrian Networks and Outerbay, and vice president of the Internet Division at Veritas and of Data Warehousing at Oracle.

Widenius, creator of both MySQL and MariaDB, has joined the company as CTO. He serves on the boards of MariaDB Corp. and the MariaDB Foundation, the non-profit organization charged with promoting, protecting and advancing the MariaDB codebase, community and ecosystem.
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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...