John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

The Good News Is Our New CEO Is Great at Maximizing Profitability. The Bad News Is Our Paychecks Now Have Layovers in Chicago.

The desktop has become a lot like teenage sex: A lot of people are talking about it but not many people are doing it.”

Matthew J. Szulik, Red Hat CEO, October, 2005

I’d argue that a worldwide monopoly, enforced by business practices that a federal judge has found to be predatory and anticompetitive, probably has more to do with killing innovation than anything the open source movement could ever do.”

–Szulik on Microsoft’s 2001 claim that Linux “stifled innovation”

Matthew Szulik, Red Hat’s wisecracking chief executive officer, is stepping down after nearly a decade on the job. He’ll remain with the company as chairman of the board, but Jim Whitehurst, a former Delta chief operating officer (yes, an airline exec), will take on the CEO role.

Szulik, who’s been with Red Hat since just a few months after its IPO in 1999, said he’s giving up the CEO job because of a family crisis. “For many months, my family has been challenged by serious health issues,” Szulik said during a conference call to discuss the company’s strong third-quarter financial results. “It became clear to me that I needed to direct the same level of attention and effort in support of my family at this time that I have invested in Red Hat for nearly a decade.”

And hopefully–no, presumably–that will be enough to resolve whatever crisis it is that Szulik faces (and all of us here at D wish you the best, Matthew). Under his stewardship, Red Hat reported yesterday that third-quarter profit surged 39% from a year ago, to $20.3 million. Revenue rose 28% to $135.4 million.

“For many years, my face has been pressed up against the windshield trying to look into the future,” Szulik wrote in a farewell posted to the Red Hat blog. “Learning and adapting to an evolving Red Hat community, culture and marketplace. Red Hat associates past and present, along with members of the open source community and our customers and partners, picked up their brushes, dipped them into a paint palette of color to create this artwork called Red Hat. I take pride when customers and industry types comment to me that the people of Red Hat are ‘different.’ Not like the cylons who have come to dominate the industry of technology. Through our actions, the open source community and the people of Red Hat are defining a modern economic relationship between developer and customer. Collaboration. Transparency and value delivered. Our customers and marketplace are responding as evidenced by our financials and strong market potential. What was once considered a joke in 1998 no longer is. Today governments and industry are responding to the values and practices of open source as evidenced by their support of OLPC [One Laptop Per Child] and the broad open source education initiatives in India, South America and parts of Africa.”


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle