During the last week or so, financially strapped MariaDB has announced that it’s laying off 28% of its workforce and that it’s shutting down two popular projects that are used by enterprise customers.
Lately MariaDB’s board has been in the process of doing something that looks a lot like chopping off its limbs to keep enough blood in its torso to keep itself alive.
If you don’t know MariaDB, it’s a database-as-a-service company that was started in part by Michael “Monty” Widenius, who also created MySQL in the 1990s, which he sold to Sun Microsystems in 2008. When Oracle purchased Sun and MySQL ended up being owned by Big Red, Widenius almost immediately forked MySQL and named the fork after his younger daughter, Maria.
For most of this year, things have not been looking good for the company which went public last December, and lately things appear to have taken a turn for the worse.
During the last week or so, the company started the process of laying off 84 people, or 28% of its workforce, as well as shutting down two of its popular products, SkySQL, which it launched in 2020 and Xpand, a distributed backend to SkySQL that was released in 2021 and expanded in May of this year to include a PostgreSQL compatible front end.
This is bad not only for MariaDB, but for many of its customers as well. For example, it’s reported that the South Korean-based tech giant Samsung relies on 50 Xpand nodes that operate as a single database which handles well over 10 billion transactions daily. These will now have to be replaced sooner rather than later, which will be a costly expense for Samsung and the loss of a revenue stream for MariaDB.
These moves come on the heels of more bad news for the company: Microsoft plans to “retire” its Azure Database for MariaDB service on Sept. 19, 2025, and is suggesting that its users should migrate to Azure Database for MySQL — Flexible Server.
Unfortunately for MariaDB, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In April the company cut 26 jobs and notified investors that it was exploring avenues for borrowing enough money to keep it afloat. Soon after that, the company received an official warning from the New York Stock Exchange after its stock price fell to two figures, both on the right side of the decimal point, putting it on notice that it has a limited time to get the price above the one-dollar threshold or face being delisted. Today the stock is trading at slightly over 70 cents.
The fall of the stock price was fairly rapid. When the company went public in December it was trading as high at $11.26.
The lender that the company was seeking in April has evidently been found, as the company has announced that the Sweden-based venture capital firm RP Ventures has agreed to make available $26.5 million at an interest rate of 10% under a “senior secured promissory note” agreement. MariaDB indicates that most of that money will be used to pay off a loan from a European Investment Bank that reached maturity on October 11.
The RP Ventures loan also comes with a cost beyond the 10% interest, as it shackles Maria somewhat until January 10. Until then, the company can’t seek mergers or recapitalization. This shouldn’t affect an offer that’s already kinda sorta on the table, however. In September, Runa Capital, a Luxembourg-based venture capital firm that owns some stock in the company, made an unsolicited bid to purchase all of the shares it doesn’t own.
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the MariaDB board is considering the bid, which was made under “Irish Takeover Rules,” which means that Runa Capital is not yet committed to purchase, no matter what decision MariaDB’s board reaches.