Shuttleworth Steps Down As Canonical CEO

Mark Shuttleworth, the CEO of Canonical, the founder of the Ubuntu Linux project, is returning to his open source roots with the news that he will be stepping down in order to focus on product design.

He will next year be replaced by Jane Silber, who is currently Canonical’s chief operating officer.

In a call with press and analysts on 17 December, Shuttleworth said he will be stepping down from his CEO role to focus more on specific projects within Canonical, including the company’s move to support cloud computing.

“Ubuntu remains my primary focus,” Shuttleworth said. “I have been working on the cloud initiative we put in place. So I’ll be doing product design and working with partners.” Shuttleworth added that he will focus on working with some of Canonical’s larger partners and taking advantage of this opportunity “to focus on the things I enjoy most.”

In a written Q&A about the transition, Shuttleworth said:

“I will focus on my passions of product design and development. I want Ubuntu to succeed as the open platform of choice for almost all use types whether on netbook, notebook, desktop, server, embedded device or wherever people compute. That is a large undertaking and being able to focus on that, thanks to Jane, is a great privilege. I will also spend more time talking to and visiting partners and customers about what they demand from an open platform and feeding that back into the product through the community and Canonical.”

Shuttleworth said this move does not indicate a change in strategy or direction for Canonical or Ubuntu. “This change is not a change in strategy,” he said. “Over the last couple of years Jane and I have shared the leadership of Canonical,” he added. And with the company continuing to grow and beginning to focus more on the enterprise market, Shuttleworth said he wanted to be able to focus more on tightening up the product and leaving the running of the company to Silber.

“Our focus on enterprise customers has been growing over the last couple of years, but not to the exclusion of our consumer customer base,” Silber said.

Also, in the written Q&A, Silber said:

“As Mark Shuttleworth has announced I will have the privilege of leading Canonical from March of next year. I am excited about the role, energised by the opportunities in front of us, and humbled by the collection of amazing and talented individuals in Canonical and the Ubuntu community. Mark will continue to play a major role in Canonical, and we expect this to be a smooth transition.”

Silber says she has held many positions at Canonical since joining the company in 2004, including her current role as COO and director of online services. Silber’s skill set, which includes engineering and management experience, led her to assume functions including the management of Ubuntu One, OEM services, corporate services, marketing, finance, legal and other matters at the company.

Silber noted one change to expect from this transition. “One thing this move will bring about is a clearer separation of the role of CEO of Canonical and the leader of the Ubuntu community,” she said. “It will be two different people now, which I think will be helpful in both achieving their joint and individual goals more quickly.”

Darryl K. Taft

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

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