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Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth Returns as CEO

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, is returning as the company's chief executive officer after current CEO Jane Silber resigned this week. The change in leadership comes at a time when the open source company behind Ubuntu is undergoing a shift in direction that focuses more on Internet of Things and cloud.

The news of Silber stepping down from the CEO role was announced in an April 12 blog post on the company website. Silber will remain CEO for three months and then move to Canonical's board of directors after that period.

Silber joined Canonical in 2004 as chief operating officer, before moving into the CEO role in 2010. In her post, Silber wrote that the company asked her to remain CEO after 2015, and stressed that he leaving the job now is part of the company plan.

"We're now entering a new phase of accelerated growth at Canonical, and it's time to pass the baton to both seasoned hands and a new generation of Canonical leaders," Silber wrote. "This is not a sudden decision. I originally agreed to be CEO for 5 years and we've extended my tenure as CEO by a couple of years already. We've been preparing for a transition for some time by strengthening the executive leadership team and maturing every aspect of the company, and earlier this year Mark and I decided that now is the time to effect this transition."

As Shuttleworth returns, the company finds itself in the middle of a transformation that many of the top technology firms are undergoing right now as the cloud, and other technologies, such as IoT, have changed the playing field. (See Hybrid Cloud Adoption: 5 Keys to Success.)

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In his own blog post from April 5, Shuttleworth wrote that the company would end its Unity desktop environment, and move away from its smartphone and tablet plans as well. The focus from now will be on Ubuntu for the cloud and IoT.

"The number and size of commercial engagements around Ubuntu on cloud and IoT has grown materially and consistently," Shuttleworth wrote.

In an interview with Enterprise Cloud News at Mobile World Congress in February, Shuttleworth spoke about the importance of cloud and IoT to the company's plans, as well as issues related to security and the company's Juju application modeling service.

Shuttleworth also talked about issues related to NFV and the challenges facing network operators as the cloud shift continues.

There have also been hints about an upcoming initial public offering (IPO) from Canonical, although the changes at the top add a layer of uncertainty to that. During his talk with ECN, Shuttleworth didn't commit to an IPO, but didn't close the door on the possibility either.

"We have to choose carefully on what we want to focus on and that sets us up for the choices we want to be making in future years," Shuttleworth said.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

kq4ym 4/24/2017 | 4:23:45 PM
Re: IoT That would seem to be a good plan moving over the IoT and cloud services, as noted the change in "focus from now will be on Ubuntu for the cloud and IoT." I wonder though how that change would affect the IPO either negatively or positively if they move forward with that.
Scott_Ferguson 4/19/2017 | 8:41:32 AM
Re: IoT @Michelle: Your right in that the phone game is now pretty much over. It's iOS and Android and do you need another open source based phone OS? You'd have to come up with something pretty special to move those two guys out of #1 and #2 in the market. 
Michelle 4/18/2017 | 11:01:38 PM
Re: IoT @Scott I think you're right. I've personally thought they were moving too slow as they developed Ubuntu for phone. It didn't seem to gain a lot of traction. I think it's wise to move into IoT now. Linux is well suited for sensors and other small devices. Early enough entry into the market may be exactly what Canonical needs.
Scott_Ferguson 4/17/2017 | 8:50:09 AM
Re: IoT @Danielcawrey: And you have seen the Canonical company move in that direction of cloud, and IoT. I have to assume, by reading between the lines a little, that the company was not moving fast enough and this was meant as a way to shake things up and get back into the game in a serious way. The phone/tablet thing has past. 
danielcawrey 4/15/2017 | 2:05:17 PM
IoT Internet of Things might be a good source of revenue for Canonical. 

While I know a lot of people love Unbuntu, it's got to be hard to make money from an OS these days. A lot of platforms are now free. 
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