Progress outbids private equity in offer for MariaDB plc

MySQL sibling saga continues as 40-year-old infrastructure software firm enters the fray

Progress Software has made a bid for MariaDB, offering a price that is less than a tenth of the beleaguered company's value at its IPO launch.

The application development and infrastructure software company has confirmed it is considering a possible offer for MariaDB plc at a value of $0.60 per share, valuing the firm at around $40.6 million.

The latest bid followed an offer by K5 Private Investors – a fund controlled by private equity company K1 – of $0.55 per share, equivalent to $37.3 million. In the run-up to its December 2022 IPO, the company's value was estimated at $672 million.

In a statement, the company said: "Progress believes MariaDB's relational database management (RDBMS) products offer an attractive value proposition for customers who need a scalable, open source relational database with the backing of a trusted enterprise software company. Progress has a proven track record in both database management and the ability to collaborate with the open source community."

40-year-old Progress, which started life as the Data Language Corporation, has been listed on the Nasdaq since 1991, enjoys market capitalization of around $2.3 billion, and holds a $1 billion acquisitions war chest. "Progress has an extensive portfolio of infrastructure software products, including database and open source offerings that are relied upon by major global corporations, and a deep knowledge of the sector in which MariaDB operates," it said.

Progress has taken an interest in databases recently. In February 2023, it acquired NoSQL database company MarkLogic for $355 million, owing to its ability to natively store JSON documents and Resource Description Framework triples, a data model for metadata.

MariaDB, the database, was forked from MySQL, the open source relational database. MySQL had been part of Sun Microsystems since 2008, but when Oracle bought Sun in 2010, MySQL co-founder Michael "Monty" Widenius forked the code to a new open source database, MariaDB.

The open source MariaDB database remains governed by the MariaDB Foundation.

MariaDB plc has spun proprietary products and services from the foundational relational database under various licensing models.

The company floated on the New York Stock Exchange in late 2022 but in April 2023, it cut a number of jobs and reiterated a "going concern" warning over its medium-term financial viability. In May, it replaced former CEO Michael Howard with Paul O'Brien and continued to seek additional capital.

In October 2023, MariaDB plc announced access to a $26.5 million loan facility, but said it was ditching strategic products and cutting 28 percent of the workforce. The move to end product lines, including its DBaaS service, baffled analysts.

In December, it spun out the SkySQL DBaaS to be owned by a newly established cloud database company of the same name.

In February this year, lender RP Ventures warned it may "sweep" MariaDB plc accounts because of the publication of the private equity bid. The move related to a pre-existing forbearance agreement, a mechanism that can offer borrowers relief on debt repayments and ultimately help lenders recover the debt. ®

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