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3/4/2010
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MySQL's Urlocker Joins Revolution Board

Zack Urlocker has left Oracle to join the predictive analystics startup, REvolution Computing.

Former MySQL staffer Zack Urlocker is going to try to do for predictive analytics what he once did for relational database systems: bring open source code to a user population that hasn't necessarily had access to the technology before.

He's joining the board of REvolution Computing, a supplier of the open source R language used in statistical computing and analytics. Urlocker will work with CEO and President Norman Nie and fellow board members Robert Gentleman, the co-creator of R, and Don Nickelson, former president of The Paine Webber Group.

REvolution Computing of Palo Alto aims to move the R open source code beyond use by researchers and academics into the enterprise, challenging other suppliers of predictive analytics with open source as a disruptive force.

Urlocker was a key member of the MySQL AB team that built the open source firm up from a penniless free download agency to a company with $100 million in revenues.

He was a lower profile personality than David Axmark and Michael "Monty" Widenius, company founders who announced their departures from Sun Microsystems with some fanfare after the $1 billion MySQL acquisition by Sun Microsystems in 2008.

Urlocker was the right-hand man to CEO Marten Mickos and an executive VP with the unusual responsibility of overseeing both marketing and engineering at the same time.

When Mickos left Sun near the one-year mark of the acquisition, Urlocker stayed on, taking on broader responsibilities as VP of lifecycle management for several products.

Now he's left the new ownership too, although this time the owner is Oracle. At the end of January, he announced that he would resign and look around for something new to do. At the time, he declared "Oracle's acquisition of Sun will result in increased investment in open source, MySQL in particular."

One of REvolution's competitors will be Oracle, with its ongoing interest in analytics. The SAS Institute will provide competition as well as IBM, which has been acquiring predictive analytics companies, including SPSS. Joining Urlocker at REvolution will be C. Hadlai "Tex" Hull, a co-creator of the SPSS analytics system.

"Zack has firsthand, tried-and-true experience with what it takes to make enterprise software successful," said Nie, in the announcement of Urlocker's joining his firm's board.

"Predictive analytics is a multi-billion dollar market and it's ripe for disruption," Urlocker said in the announcement. Urlocker is one of the original product team leaders behind Borland's Delphi and JBuilder development tools.

The R statistical computing language is an open source code project used by scientists and researchers, but North Bridge Venture Partners and Intel Capital invested $9 million in REvolution in October as an enhancer and supplier of technical support for R code. Nie wants to broaden use of R and see it penetrate deep into enterprise operations. Total funding to date for his firm is $16 million.

Microsoft is a partner with REvolution in increasing the use of R, as is Canonical, which includes R in its Ubuntu distribution of Linux.

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