Matthew Szulik is leaving as President and CEO on Jan. 1.  (Source: Red Hat)

Jim Whitehurst is taking over as CEO and President, effective Jan. 1.  (Source:
Red Hat, a premier Linux provider makes some serious moves in its corporate architecture, but keeps everyone onboard

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 the OLPC program.

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.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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