His official title was “Community Advocate”. Once, he described his work to me like this: “Imagine MySQL AB as a person that acts in a social environment, then me and David Axmark take care that this person behaves properly in the Open Source community and is accepted within the group.” The last 2 years, Zak was mostly concerned with the licensing issues that arouse when the MySQL client library became GPLed.
Zak’s two main concerns were – not only concerning the licensing issues – to fully understand the Open Source community, not only that of the MySQL database, and to make the community understand the company MySQL, the reasoning behind their actions. I have attended several of Zak’s talks at conferences and it always amazed me, how well he tried to balance out the interests of the company and the community. I write “tried”, because not all interests could be satisfied, as some of them have a conflicting nature.
It was Zak’s respectful behaviour towards anyone contacting him that made him a person as well respected by the community. His respect for others is deeply rooted in his professional approach and work ethics as well as his believe in the principles of the Open Source community and good social behaviour in general.
I am very much looking forward to see what he will be doing in the future and who will hire him. For MySQL, it must be hard to find someone as committed to the job as Zak was, also someone as eloquently acting within the community. MySQL is loosing a skilled and experienced secretary for the cathedral’s friends – but I am pretty sure, that Zak will stay with the friends of the cathedral.