Enterprise Linux Log

Feb 5 2010   4:24PM GMT

Canonical serious about business, Asay hired as COO

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

If people thought Canonical was nothing more than that fun company with the cute and easy-to-use desktop version of Linux that was the pet project of its benevolent dictator, Mark Shuttleworth, then today they heard that needle sliding on a record sound. Stop.

In December, Canonical announced that Shuttleworth was stepping down from his role as CEO and COO Jane Silber was moving up, but no hint was given as to who would be filling her shoes. Today, the company sent out a press release announcing that the role would be filled by long-time open source business strategist, Matt Asay.

Some of us feel quite a familiarity with Asay; we’ve been following his CNET blog, The Open Road (and linked to it prolifically when breaking open source news hits). He also is a regular speaker at open source events — I recently saw him at the inaugural LinuxCon in late September 2009.

Asay leaves his position as VP of Business Development for Alfresco, a Maidenhead, United Kingdom-based open source content management software company. Prior to that, Asay was one of the founding members of Novell’s Linux Business Office in 2002 and was an early influencer and participant in the company’s shift to open source. In 2003, he founded the Open Source Business Conference, and he has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, focusing on open source investment opportunities.

Before Novell, Asay was General Manager at Lineo, an embedded Linux software startup, where he ran Lineo’s Residential Gateway business. He is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

Convinced of his cred?

Asay blogged about the move today, sharing his feelings and providing a skeleton outline of his focus and motivation for the move and what he’ll be tackling at Canonical.

My guess is that the Ubuntu community is cheering on this move — bringing onboard an open source ambassador who also understands the business side is a strong move for the company that has been gaining momentum in Linux distribution market-share. But as a blogger, Asay is not without his critics, and I anticipate seeing a couple of public displays of distaste for the selection. What do you think?

Canonical has a couple of key releases coming up, including the April launch of Lucid Lynx (10.04) that might serve as the first test of Silber and Asay’s leadership. It will be interesting to watch.

And a shout-out to Brian Proffitt, who said in his blog what I didn’t have the guts to say to the folks at Canonical: Please, for the sake of open source bloggers collective egos, keep the man busy!

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