Ubuntu founder retakes the CEO throne, many employees gone

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Apr 30, 2017

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonincal has once again returned to his positition of CEO, as Jane Silber, the previous CEO now heads to the Board of Directors; and big changes happen to the staff lineup as a result.

In a blog bost by Sibler, she says, “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.”

The move comes as Canonical makes big changes to things within the company such as killing off the Unity desktop environment, and Ubuntu for Phones.

However, that’s not the only major change going on. According to an article by The Register, “The Reg has learned 31 or more staffers have already left the Linux distro biz ahead of Shuttleworth's rise, with at least 26 others now on formal notice and uncertainty surrounding the remainder. One individual has resigned while others, particularly in parts of the world with more stringent labour laws, such as the UK, are being left in the dark.”

Allegedly, some staff were given no heads up and simply told goodbye to, just simply fired with an out of nowhere video call.

The Register goes on to talk about how multiple employees claimed they had been promised share options by Shuttleworth only to be released of their contracts less than a week later.

However, a spokesperson by Canonical says, "Given the global nature of the company, it is not realistic for us to have the necessary structures and contracts in place in less than a week, but they will be established once that work is complete."

The cuts are the result of Shuttleworth looking to outside investors for funding. However some potential investors determined that Canonical was heading in directions on some projects that didn’t seem logical to invest in, with a lack of direction.

“"If we are going to take outside money and go public, how efficient do we need to be?" Shuttleworth said. "In a very cold commercial sense, we have to bring those numbers into line and that leads to headcount changes. One of those pieces I could not bring into line was Unity. We can't go through that market process and ask for outside investor money when there's something that big that doesn't have a revenue story. That's the pinch we got into."

Shuttleworth for years has been funding Canonical out of his own pockets, to little success financially. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shuttleworth is worth $500 Million, which he made after selling a digital certificate authority to VeriSign back in 1999.

For more information you can read the original article posted by The Register.

What are your thoughts on this move? Is downsizing the company the right move?

Ubuntu founder retakes the CEO throne, many employees gone
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Ubuntu founder retakes the CEO throne, many employees gone
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonincal has once again returned to his positition of CEO, as Jane Silber, the previous CEO now heads to the Board of Directors;
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  1. ib said on January 25, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    IBM owns RED HAT by the way.
    Smartest Decision IBM has made in the last 25years.
    Next smartest decision IBM made was DUMB LENOVO,because they couldn[‘t build a Notebook since 1993.

    but wait,theres more.
    IBM Controls RED HAT, and IBM has to make a PROFIT.

    wait for CentOS to start loosing sources, like every other Open Source thats bought by a profit Company,they cut out the USEFULL stuff that CE versions had, so to use the software, your goat F into Paying for the PAID VERSION.

    Only computer you own one built in 1992 and install from an ORIGINAL CD, that isnt on the internet.
    Everything else, you are thew PRODUCT.

  2. ms said on January 25, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    You mean the End User Apha Product, that Business and Users pay for, that is required to update to fix the 2million BUGS in the Alpha version of software,that gave the world the best New Business Market of ANTIVIRUS Companies,without M$soft Bugs, the world would not be so full of M$soft Antivirus Products. All the While, the Alpha M$soft Software, you LEASE from M$sort, you don’t actually OWN, you have to Activate and Subscribe to Telemetry,Tracking,and What your mouse does. Now Mouse Companies are copying M$soft, and they require Registration and Activation to Count how many mouse clicks,and where your clicking your mouse from,at what Ips,and what time of Day,and how busy of a Mouse user your are. Ubuntu, was OPEN SOURCE, it was FREE LABOR built. today, nothing is free, You either PAY and be a the PRODUCT and be used, or You Pay being the Product, without knowing your Paying the FEE. GO OPEN SOURCE.,,,that are not greedy. You know, whats funny in 25years, it took 25years for M$soft, to have an Add Linux Core,to its business model, after 25years of Copying what UNIX/LINUX Sco Xenix Linux, has been doing since the early 90s,. DNA AD BOOTP KERBEROS. Backup, 99% of M$soft Server componenets,where nothing but Ripped off of Unix/Linux,and gave an Idiot a GUI. nothing more, or they squeezed small Backup Companies out of there well built software,or where giong to be SQUISHED by lawyers, M$soft isnt smart, they just ripped off the services that Smarter people already made…Ubuntu just wants to be a M$soft.,by the way, they have Trackign and Ads embeded too.,Ubu is after the pot of gold as the rest. Try the BLACK SCREEN, DOS, or the GREEN SCREEN. really. to write a Letter and print it, i need 698 Services running,using CPU and MEMORY? to write a 1 page letter and print. Ubu, How much BLOAT do you have? your full of Cra/p too. TINYCORE. try it. or ARCH. What do you really need? to write a letter, or send an email. We used to do this stuff with a FLOPPY DISK in 1985.

  3. b said on May 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

    well, I guess it might soon be time to migrate to another linux system. switched from windows( because of aggressive/non privacy behaviour) to ubuntu a year ago. hopefully canonical won’t turn into the nasty kid brother.

  4. AnorKnee Merce said on May 1, 2017 at 9:33 am

    The financial predicament of Canonical’s Ubuntu proves that a totally free OS business model financed mainly by public donations and/or the founders’ nest-eggs does not work for long.
    ……. Many Linux distro have died because the lone idealist hobbyist developer and maintainer suffered burn-out or lost interest, eg Tahrpup 6.0.5.

    The business models that have worked so far are; …….
    #1. Revenue from sales of Windows licenses which enabled M$ to hire software professionals to develop Windows into a very user-friendly OS that even computer dummies could use and hire staff to liaise with the major OEMs for device driver support.
    #2. Revenue from ads, data-marketers and sales of apps in return for consumers having free use of Google’s software, eg Android OS and Google Search, which enabled Google to hire lots of staff for various purposes. Free offers tend to become very popular with users. This is similar to the business model of Free-To-Air TV companies like ABC, CBS and FOX.

    So, for a Linux distro to succeed, it has to use either the #1 or #2 business model, or both, ie either sell Linux OS licenses(eg US$30 per Retail license) or sell ads, data and apps in the OS, or both.

    1. Jason said on May 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      “The financial predicament of Canonical’s Ubuntu proves that a totally free OS business model financed mainly by public donations and/or the founders’ nest-eggs does not work for long.”

      But that’s not at all what Canonical was doing. Most of their revenue came (and continues to come) from corporate support contracts, consumer cloud services, etc.

      By the way, you missed #3. See what Redhat has been doing to grow into a $2 billion company from free software.

      1. AnorKnee Merce said on May 1, 2017 at 7:44 pm

        @ Jason

        “Mar 23, 2016

        Mission accomplished.

        Red Hat, which promised a few months ago to hit $2 billion in annual revenue, has done so and now claims to be the world’s first open-source company to reach that milestone. It crossed the $1 billion-a-year line four years ago.

        While $2 billion pales in comparison to many proprietary software sellers—Microsoft (msft, +1.29%) reported $93.6 billion in revenue for its last fiscal year, for example—it’s still a healthy benchmark.”

        Excerpt from Fortunedotcom.

  5. SingaporeJoe said on May 1, 2017 at 9:06 am

    “The cuts are the result of Shuttleworth looking to outside investors for funding”

    According to some rumors Shuttleworth already has some offers (talks are underway many months now) from potential new investors that are interested for Canonical hence the rush for these cuts.

    1. ShiryFoghorn said on May 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Yeah. But Mark will take CEO at July. Let’s wait for 3 month and see what’s the result.
      Only the cloud part are profitable right now. But what they laid off is actually the core of Ubuntu. It’s a dangerous move. Outside investors should not be that stupid.

  6. ddk said on May 1, 2017 at 1:48 am

    Canonical is making MS look not quite so evil right now.
    No year of the Linux desktop, sorry, unless MS open sources XP.
    That way Linux devs can fork it into a 100 + distros,

  7. Womble said on April 30, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    This news is so old I went to check if it was the year of Linux on the desktop yet.

    1. ams said on May 1, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      This arguably qualifies as a “current events” item but, yes, is too outdated to be considered “news”.

  8. Mark Hazard said on April 30, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Downsizing is never a good thing. It’s an act of desperation, which usually does not turn out well. Look what is happening at Microsoft. I may have to switch to Linux Light.

    1. Tim said on April 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm


      Probably more similar than you’d think, as an investment company has been dictating Microsoft’s direction as well. A few years back ValueAct Capital pretty much told Microsoft that they have to focus on boosting sales of its applications and services to other operating systems and on enterprise software and forget about consumer hardware. And this is exactly what we’ve seen Microsoft do, with the remnants of the Nokia buyout pretty much just thrown in the bin.

      I’m really no fan of this system, but it doesn’t necessarily end badly for the company itself.

    2. Mike Turcotte said on April 30, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Mark Hazard,

      I typically use distributions (like Arch Currently) not owned by any major organizations or companies. Linux Light is nice for what it is, but you have many other options too!

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