After an exciting nine year run marked by torrid growth that
at times seemed almost out of control, Red Hat Chief Executive Officer Matthew Szulik has finally called it quits and announced his
decision to leave his positions as President and CEO of the company.
Szulik will remain with Redhat, though, assuming the role of Chairman of its
board of directors, effective January 1, 2008.
The move, which will likely create a minor fuss in the open-source and Linux
communities, was for the most part an amicable one. Jim
Whitehurst announced his decision to leave his position as chief operating
officer of Delta Air Lines and at the request of Red Hat's board will assume
the roles of CEO and President, effective January 1. A Red Hat employee
noted that despite Whitehurst's foreign corporate background, his initial tech
credentials seemed solid.
"I have not met him, but he runs Fedora Core 6 and Fedora 7 on two
of his machines, and Slackware on a third, so that's a good first
impression," the employee, Max Spevack, states in
a blog on the Red Hat site.
Szulik also approved of the decision. In his farewell
blog, he announced that his decision was based on "personal
reasons" as he quoted Kerouac and waxed on the early days when his office
was across the hall from a free pop machine, whose noises callers joked sounded
like a wild fight. Szulik jokes that in time he told his business
contacts that indeed fights were going on and that was "how people at Red
Hat settled technical issues likes software bugs and features in new releases."
He said the company's fighting spirit attracted its current
big investors -- Dell, HP, and IBM. He goes on to cite various landmark
world events that took place during his time as CEO, and finishes by stating
his continuing belief in the potential of open source, even giving a plug to
Whitehurst was a VP at The Boston Consulting Group prior to his office at Delta
Air Lines and is a graduate of Rice University and Harvard Business School.
Redhat is enjoying record revenue, releasing
its third quarter earnings report on the same day the leadership change was
announced. Revenue was up 28% from the previous year, to a total of $135.4 million USD, while subscriptions revenue increased
30% up to $116 million USD.
This year saw the
release of a new Red Hat Linux OS in March, Dell's commitment to provide
Red Hat OS's in a line of its desktops, OLPC's
adoption of Red Hat to cut costs, and Oracle announcement that it was
seeking to knock off Red Hat with its new
Oracle Unbreakable Linux OS. It should be intriguing to watch the
path that Whitehurst takes the company on, in coming months.