After IBM announced its plans to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion, pundits quickly started speculating about when Red Hat competitors like Suse and Canonical would sell, as well. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, though, doesn’t seem to have any interest in selling — at least for the time being.
“I value my independence,” he told me during a brief chat on the outskirts of the OpenStack Summit in Berlin today. In part, that’s because he simply doesn’t personally need the money but also because he’d like to see through to the end his vision for Canonical and Ubuntu.
When he sold Thawte Consulting to Verisign for $575 million in 1999, people asked him if he was about to go on a lifelong vacation. And while he used some of that money to become the second space tourist (and fund his philanthropic foundation), he clearly has no interest in that.
Still, he allowed for one circumstance that would get him to sell: if it allowed him to accelerate his vision for Canonical.
But everything has a price, and while Shuttleworth may not need the money, a sale would surely represent a worthwhile monetary reward for many a Canonical employee.
It’s no secret that Shuttleworth would rather like to see Canonical to IPO, though. Earlier this year, he told me that this is still in the works, but it needs to hit the right numbers to get that. The company’s recent moves to re-focus on the enterprise, which included shutting down a number of projects like the Ubuntu Phone and Unity desktop that weren’t directly focused on that, seems to be paying off, so an IPO remains a viable option.
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