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MySQL CEO Says, "It is dangerous to hire someobody who has too much experience."

Mar 28, 2007 • general, web-design

Martin Mickos podcastI was listening to a podcast today that featured the CEO of MySQL, Marten Mickos. MySQL is an extremely popular open source relational database, and in this interview Mickos talked about the business model behind open source software. At one point the interviewer asked, "When you're looking for talent in building this kind of organization . . . how important is it that they believe in the philosophy or are part of the [open source] movement. Does that matter much, or do people learn it when they get here?"

Mickos responded:

They don't need to know open source, but they need to have an open mind, they need to have a global mindset, and they must be ready to abandon old practices, because the software industry has, over the last twenty years, built some procedures, practices, and principles which just don't work anymore. So it is dangerous to hire somebody who has too much experience. You need the guys who ask why and ask why not, people who are ready to question things and who are not bound by tradition. . . . You have to have your mind set on the future and not on the past.

Too much experience dangerous? That's thought-provoking. I'm always hearing people say, "Such and such has 25 years of experience in ..." or "Welcome such and such, who has 15 years of experience working in ..." For a disruptive business model like open source, too much experience works against your ability to succeed (at least according to Mickos).


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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.