Jim Starkey joined MySQL AB

Jim Starkey, the original creator of InterBase which became Firebird, just made it publicly known that he now works for MySQL AB.

My company, Netfrastructure, Inc., has been acquired by MySQL, AB. As
part of the agreement, I will be working full time for MySQL. I expect
to lurk on the architecture list from time to time and may contribute
the occasional wolf-o-gram, but I will not be taking an active part in
Firebird development. Although Ann will work for MySQL, part time,
translating from wolf to English, she will continue to be active in the
Firebird project.

My decision to join MySQL has almost nothing to do with Firebird and everything to do with Netfrastructure. The Netfrastructure platform represents what I feel about contemporary computing hardware and future application requirements, and has been the center of my technical heart and soul for six year. Some aspects of Netfrastructure technology have already been contributed to the Vulcan project, but Firebird and Netfrastructure are architecturally incompatible. An attempt to integrate the technologies would be unlikely to meet the goals of either project.

MySQL and Firebird have never seen each other as competitors and I doubt this will change in the future. The projects have different open source philosophies, different technologies, different customer bases, and different sweet spots. The ideas behind the two projects are, happily, public and available to all. If MySQL and Firebird compete, it is only competition in offering the best possible support to their respective customers.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to finish the Vulcan project. The combination of Vulcan SMP and architecture combined the rich feature set of Firebird 2 will make a solid release and a superb platform for future development.

I wish the Firebird project all the best in years to come. And if you need an opinion, please feel free to call.

Site editor note: Is this your first contact with Firebird? I invite you to read the “Get to know Firebird in 2 minutes” paper and find out why Firebird is so special!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • I’m not sure about what exactly will be Jim’s work at MySQL, but look:

    1) Oracle bought InnoDB
    2) Oracle bought BerkeleyDB

    Both are used as “enhanced” MySQL engines, offering Transaction Control and other “advanced” features to the basic MySQL.

    Now MySQL AB gets Jim Starkey, a man with great knowledge of how to implement all of this “hard stuff” (versioning, transactions, etc).

    Will MySQL start their own “enhanced” engine? Will Jim lead this work? Was MySQL worried about Firebird 3?

    Just some thoughs…

  • 3) They have to build an transactional engine
    from scratch

    So here is the answer they need Jim Starkey experience for this

    The were worried about oracle more than firebird

  • I think that MySQL (or Oracle) feels the power of Jim’s knowledge.

    I’m little sad about this news. Jim was the man who created Interbase and now he’s “gone”. 🙁

    JC cincura.net
    Firebird (CZ): http://groups.google.com/group/firebird_cz

  • Oh well life goes on , i think firebird project
    will survive very well after jim is gone to mysql.
    That is open source community for 😉
    I’m glad that there is an independent foundation
    created that will continue with firebird development

  • Yes, but Jim was like the father. He created the Interbase from zero.

    I know that there’s huge strong open source community, but I’ll be sad for some minutes.

    JC cincura.net
    Firebird (CZ): http://groups.google.com/group/firebird_cz

  • Do note, though, that Jim wasn’t “with” Firebird when it started. He came in much later, after the SAS guys wanted “Vulcan”.

    Martijn Tonies
    Upscene Productions

  • Jim would leave sooner or later. He just created Vulcan because he was paid to do that.

    When I was with Jim/Ann in the lastest FDD, he made it clear that he doesn’t agree too much with the “Open Source” spirit.

    Anyway, I enjoyed a lot the time I spent with him and Ann.

  • unhappily, money buys everything…

    go in peace, Mr. Jim…

    Firebird was born without you and won’t die without you!!!

    thanks for that you did for him… and Forever Firebird!!!

  • Maybe you didn’t read that very carefully,

    “Although Ann will work for MySQL, part time,
    translating from wolf to English, she will continue to be active in the
    Firebird project.”


  • Remember that MySQL AB has bought Netfrastructure + Jim, not Jim’s head alone. I think this is the answer, considering their storage engine issues. I’m afraid they cannot afford to develop their own engine from scratch, at least in the short term, and Netfrastructure could be a solution for them.

  • Other than the clear sense of jumping the ship, what does this move tell others if the original creator of Firebird gives up on it?

    The message is loud and clear: Firebird is a toy not worth investing much effort, signed: the original creator of Firebird.

    Or is it jst another example of “do as I say, not as I do”?

    Well, maybe it’s time to look at Postgres a bit closer.

  • Jim created InterBase. Jim was not involved with Firebird until SAS paid IBPhoenix who hired him to do Vulcan.

    Honestly, I don’t think Jim leaving will cause any damage for the Firebird project. Jim didn’t participate in Firebird 1.0 and 1.5, and they are here, full of new features. We have a lot of great developers working on it.

    BTW, many things about the project needs to be changed, and I think correct time is now.

  • I think the FB project suffers from chronic lack of true and full affinity to the “other” significant Open Source project… Linux.

    Sure, FB runs under Linux, and most of the time the install is pretty much straightforward. The problems begin when it comes to developing with PHP. I think this is a very important aspect of any database. Just look at MySQL. Why did it get such a momentum and now it’s rolling over big brass commercial databases?

    To me this is a result of MySQL being included with practically every major Linux distro and it is accessible through PHP “out of the box” in all Linux dostros.

    From the humble beginnings of a glorified flat file database with and SQL front end, MySQL is becoming a Microsoft of OpenSource databases. It all started with millions of kids playing with dynamic web sites. MySQL lacked many features an RDBMS should have but who cared; it was running with PHP like a charm and was good enough for all those pretty (and ugly) dynamic web pages.

    I have a feeling that the FB Foundation brass doesn’t regard PHP an worthwhile development platform. I too prefer to develop with Delphi and C++ Builder, more and more PHP comes to the forefront as the desired technology in the context of Firebird.

    Meanwhile… while MySQL is only beginning to catch up with FB features, no Linux distro includes Firebird option during a default installation. When it comes to getting it to run with PHP the Firebird documentation presents a gaping hole. Yes, some are successful, most aren’t.

    In my view, the excellent FB database suffers from two major shortcomings:

    – nonexistent PHP documentation and support.
    – abysmal marketing

    However harsh my comments may seem, I am making them only because I do want Firebird to succeed beyond the little niche it is stuck in.

  • ” The message is loud and clear: Firebird is a toy not worth investing much effort, signed: the original creator of Firebird. ”

    I would rather say the message is that Jim wants to get paid for his work, given the bills he has to pay 🙂

    As Carlos said: Jim wasn’t involved until IBPhoenix hired him to do the SAS job.

    Do you really think Jim was doing all this Firebird work in the last 18 months (after the SAS Vulcan project) for free? Think again.

  • “So… are you suggesting there is no money to be made on FB beyond the development of vulcan?”

    Here’s what happened:

    1) InterBase got open sourced. Oh wait, it didn’t, or at least, not for long.

    2) Firebird was created.

    3) Firebird stumbled along…

    4) SAS contacted Paul Beach (IBPhoenix) if he knew someone who could deliver a multi-cpu safe version of Firebird

    5) Paul contacted Jim

    6) SAS paid $$ to IBPhoenix who paid $$ to Jim for project Vulcan

    7) 18 months ago, the SAS contract ended, Jim was being paid for continued work by someone else.

    8) Jim joins MySQL and earns money.

    So, Jim joined Firebird because of $$ and he left Firebird because of $$. Is that so strange?

    Do I think you can use Firebird to make money? Sure do.

    Do I think Firebird is being developed for free? Not at all. Neither is MySQL, Linux, OpenOffice and other major open source projects.

  • What many people have missed in their posts is that Jim created the original version of InterBase over 20 years ago and left it 15 years ago. Yes, he spent about half time over the past 18 months working on it, but for the past 7 years, his main interest has been Netfrastructure, a different database with a significantly different architecture.

  • Personally, I feel the loss of Ann, who has said she isn’t leaving FB, would be a greater loss.

    Although Jim was the original architect, the work will continue, and go from strength to strength without him.

    Like many, I felt a small knot in the pit of my stomach, however, having given it some thought, I believe this will be a good thing for FB in the long term. For starters, as soon as this info is released to the MySQL community FB will get an instant hit from their users. Who would’nt see this news and think “hey, if theyre grabbing a firebird developer, then firebird must have something to offer. If handled correctly then FB has a lot to gain from this.

    z_darius, although PHP plays a big part in the acceptance of FB as an alternative to MySQL, its not the be all and end all.

    Just my thougths 😉

  • “z_darius, although PHP plays a big part in the acceptance of FB as an alternative to MySQL, its not the be all and end all.”

    …and simply stop complaining – roll your sleeves up and start working.

    When David Jencks started pure-Java JDBC driver, he did not complain, but did a lot of hard work. After two hard years first version was released and each next year it becomes better and better. This can happen to PHP integration with your help too!

  • Pingback: zillablog

  • “Maybe you didn’t read that very carefully,

    “Although Ann will work for MySQL, part time,
    translating from wolf to English, she will continue to be active in the
    Firebird project.”

    Regards, ”

    You it’s right…

    Jim it’s a creator, and is creating what he likes: Netfrastructure…

    The life and the dreams they are of him…

    My sincere excuses to Jim and Ann…

    Best regards,

  • Jim,
    your announcement above mentioned
    “different sweet spots”
    Would you be kind enough to provide your view of what FireBird, Vulcan & MySQL are each best suited to, now and over the next year or two ?
    So that developers might make an informed choice when selecting a DBMS …
    Many thanks 🙂

  • Pingback: MySQL Developer » Blog Archive » Boston MySQL Meetup Tonight: Jim Starkey

  • Pingback: Mysql

  • spam should be deleted (above link)

  • Pingback: joyfire 王乐珩 » Jim Starkey加盟MySQL

Leave a Reply