Michael "Monty" Widenius of MySQL is one of the few open-source developers who has been working alone. According to Monty, his company gets more offers of money from venture capitalists than submissions of code fixes for the MySQL server. On the client end, the contributions have been great, but the MySQL server-end software has been written from the ground up basically by Widenius himself, who has no official title at the company.
The idea for MySQL started in the mid-1990s, when Widenius was working with TCX. TCX clients doing data warehousing started asking for a browser-based rather than a standard GUI interface. "We started to look around for some language that would be easy to embed in Perl or something like that, and when you look around, SQL is probably the appropriate choice," says Widenius. After checking the available commercial and open source servers they found that the available programs were too slow for even the medium sized databases of 5-10 million rows. They turned to the developer of mSQL to see if he would be interested in implementing the server software needed, but he wasn't, so they decided to develop their own. By that time, Widenius had gathered a lot of knowledge, and knew exactly what functionality he needed. The first implementation took him only three months to program, "but it didn't do much," he said. "I already had something in place ... I just ripped out the GUI and put in a simple SQL parser."
[...] Another unusual attribute of the MySQL company is that it is completely self-sustaining, that it, it was always profitable, and it continues to grow through profit, rather than outside investment. Frankly, says Widenius, although we get offers from investors weekly, we don't have anywhere they want to invest the money. "We will never give up our ideas," says Widenius. And since they don't need the money, there is no need to sacrifice control. "The main target is to make the best SQL server there is," he adds.