Present board members:
- Eric Herman, Chairman
- Sergei Golubchik, MariaDB Corporation
- Max Mether, MariaDB Corporation
- Barry Abrahamson, Automattic
- Todd Boyd, IBM
- Espen Håkonsen, Visma
- Steve Shaw, Intel
- Xiang Peng, Alibaba
- Michael Widenius, MariaDB Corporation
- Serguei Beloussov, Constructor (formerly SIT)
- Sirish Chandrasekaran, Amazon
- Ezequiel Steiner, Acronis
- Parikshit Savjani, Microsoft
- Mark Stockford, ServiceNow
Additionally, as non-voting secretary:
- Kaj Arnö, CEO, MariaDB Foundation
The CEO reported about two items: Amazon as Diamond Sponsor and the upcoming meeting week in Finland 2-6 October 2023.
The CEO described active discussions having taken place with Amazon since Nov 2022 now bearing fruit. After follow-up meetings last week, we got the confirmation last Thursday by Sirish saying “We’re happy to support the MariaDB Foundation with the sponsorship of €500K.”.
The CEO expressed his warm thank you to Amazon and Sirish for this unconditional support by Amazon. Sirish reiterated Amazon’s support for MariaDB Foundation and also repeated its “no strings attached” nature. The Chairman and several other board members, including Monty, expressed their deep gratitude towards Amazon.
The CEO noted that upon sharing the news with Staff and Board members of the Operating Committee, he aggregated the replies to the question “How can we make the most of it?”. The replies fell into three categories: making the most of the money, making the most of the endorsement, and making the most of the sponsor relationship (heading for a renewal a year later).
Money-wise, the Foundation will primarily take care of immediate cash flow issues, and build a cushion for the future.
Publicity-wise, the Foundation will strive to reach outside the bubble of MariaDB devotees, and expect the good news to be received well.
Retention-wise, the Foundation intends to listen to Amazon’s wishes, which happen to be well aligned with MariaDB Foundation mission anyway.
Amazon’s first suggestion is for increased MySQL compatibility for MariaDB, promoting user choice. This is well in line with MariaDB Foundation’s aspiration to win on its merits by offering users a reliable, performant, and innovative database engine.
Amazon’s second suggestion is for MariaDB Server to provide infrastructure for AI through a vector storage engine, something Postgres is already looking at in their pgvector initiative. This is obviously more early stage for MariaDB Foundation, but well in line with our ambition to provide what the ecosystem expects from an open-source relational database management system.
The CEO also noted that Amazon had indicated they would prefer that any board position, should it be offered, should be offered to the company in recognition of its corporate support of MariaDB instead of an individual.
The Chairman noted that Board memberships have been individual, in order to counter any suspicions about board positions being for sale.
Sergei Golubchik noted that it would be logical to offer a board position to Amazon, as Amazon have established a customer base that represents a large share of the MariaDB Server user base. That is thanks to the work of the organisation, not of individuals. Sergei noted that in theory, an individual could also purchase a large sponsorship and thus create suspicion of buying a board seat. Hence, the matter should be not about individual vs organisation but just about the merit of the entity in general.
The CEO was mandated to work with those expressing an opinion at the board meeting, which also included Serguei Beloussov and Michael Widenius, to establish whether the Foundation can have a policy for offering organisational board memberships. This would relate to the By-laws and their interpretation by board members.
The CEO mentioned that there is a series of upcoming meetings in Finland in less than a month, as noted in the blog entry Announcing the 2023 MariaDB (Un)Conference and the MariaDB Server Fest.
On Monday 2023-10-02, there will be a Staff Meeting, with employees of MariaDB Foundation only. This is about internal tools and processes, and preparing the rest of the week.
On Tuesday and Wednesday 2023-10-03..04, there will be an Unconference, to which the entire ecosystem is invited for joint work. The Unconference works on current initiatives such as MySQL compatibility and vector storage engines, and it details the roadmap. Individual sessions work on what in a commercial setting would be called Product Management: half-baked features (is our JSON functionality satisfying user needs? what features do not meet user expectations? does our release model work?), on Development practices (do our review routines work? what code refactoring ambitions should we have? does Buildbot and Continuous Integration work as they should?), on Governance practices (who decides what goes into the product and how?). And this being an unconference, we give attention to any matter brought up by well-prepared ecosystem members.
The CEO noted that physical presence by code contributors is strongly encouraged. Although some options for virtual participation will be offered, this doesn’t compensate for the large gap in time zones, where the core meeting time of 9:00-17:00 in Finland will map to 11pm-7am on, say, the US West Coast.
On Thursday 2023-10-05, there will be a Server Fest, which is based on presentations. There will be a number of independently prepared sessions, both virtual and on-site, in addition to the summaries aggregating the Roadmap and other fruits of the Unconference.
On Friday 2023-10-06, there will be a follow-up Staff Mtg, where we identify internal action items resulting from the work during the Unconference and the ideas from the Server Fest. We added this day to respect the considerable travel time spent especially by the long-distance staff members, from Cape Town and Canberra.
The establishment process remains stalled because of the lack of 50.000 € on the bank account, which is required to finish the registration process and obtain final approval by Finnish authorities. With the arrival of Amazon funds on the account, this situation is now expected to change.
Upon establishment, we shall amend the board with the missing members. To be technically registered as a board member of the EU foundation, each voting member is required to submit their details (passport copy, birth date and birth location, current physical address) to the CEO.
The CEO noted that at the last Board meeting on 24 May 2023, the Board established a task force to help the CEO navigate the waters around the relationship between MariaDB Plc and MariaDB Foundation, as well as the communication both between the entities and towards the ecosystem. The board had appointed Max Mether, Sergei Golubchik, and Steve Shaw to the Task Force, with the CEO as secretary.
While the Task Force was requested to report progress prior to today’s Board meeting, external events changed the constellation fundamentally, and much for the better. MariaDB plc appointed a new CEO and new senior management, who have a very different and fundamentally positive attitude to Open Source and MariaDB Foundation.
Thus, MariaDB plc and MariaDB Foundation are now rebooting their entire relationship. The CEOs are working intensely together, with the goal to establish a fruitful cooperation with a sensible role division which is aligned with Open Source practices and with the MariaDB Foundation mission of Adoption, Openness, and Continuity.
The CEO likened this to the end of the Cold War. He noted that we now have the opportunity to end somewhat strange practices (such as users downloading MariaDB Server on mariadb.org suddenly ending up on mariadb.com), and expected that most matters can be resolved by the CEO within his normal mandate. If ideas pop up that go beyond that, the CEO will work first and foremost with the Task Force already set up. If needed, there may be motions set forth to the next Board meeting late November.
Max Mether confirmed the CEO’s description of the new constellation, and said he is looking forward to a more harmonious relationship with the Foundation.
- every meeting on a Wednesday, same time as this BoD meeting
- four meetings in total, one remaining
- calendar invites have been sent out – if they have not arrived, please alert Anna and/or Kaj over email
- Wed 29 Nov 2023