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Szulik Steps Back from Red Hat

Matthew Szulik leaves post as Red Hat’s CEO.

Red Hat Inc. CEO Matthew Szulik's sudden departure caught analysts off guard when he announced his resignation during the company's earnings call late last month. Red Hat named Jim Whitehurst, a former Delta Air Lines Inc. and Boston Consulting Group Inc. executive as president and CEO. Szulik, who succeeded Bob Young as Red Hat CEO in 1999, remains chairman.

Szulik has something of a mixed legacy at Red Hat, the leading Linux distributor. Proponents say he built the Raleigh, N.C., company into a true enterprise player. Zack Urlocker, an executive vice president at MySQL AB, blogged that Szulik "deserves full credit for taking the company from a low-end retail box-pusher into a significant enterprise player -- well ahead of competitors. And Szulik stood up to the pressure from Microsoft, Oracle, Novell and others. He fought tough odds and helped shape and transform Red Hat along the way."

Others, including former Red Hat executives, are less kind in their assessment of Szulik's tenure. They say that Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss last year -- and the subsequent exit of most of the JBoss developers -- illustrates management problems that have roiled Red Hat under Szulik.

It probably doesn't help that an erstwhile ally like Oracle Corp. pretty much nuked Red Hat two years ago when it announced plans for its own Linux distribution as well as Oracle-branded support. Until then, Red Hat had pretty much been Oracle's go-to Linux partner.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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