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Old 08-13-2013, 12:01 PM   #1
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Why Ubuntu’s creator still invests his fortune in an unprofitable company

Ubuntu's desktop "on its own will die"—Shuttleworth on why Canonical must expand.

When Mark Shuttleworth founded Canonical in 2004, he made a promise to his staff: "You can count on me for two years."

The idea was "to get the team to relax" and focus on the newly created Ubuntu operating system. Shuttleworth wanted to eliminate the pressure of becoming a blockbuster business overnight.

He issued no ultimatums. And although Shuttleworth wanted Canonical to be self-sustaining, he didn't threaten to abandon Ubuntu if it lost money. "When we started, I told the team two years," he recently told Ars. "I didn't say, 'till it's profitable.' I said, 'You can count on me for two years. What I want to really see is evidence of a clear path to success and really interesting disruption.'"

Now nearly 10 years later, Canonical remains unprofitable. Shuttleworth is worth an estimated half-billion dollars, having made his fortune by creating a digital certificate authority that he sold to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999. Today, he continues funding Canonical from his own fortune.

The desktop will die without a mobile counterpart

Shuttleworth still isn't issuing any ultimatums over profitability to Canonical employees. In fact, he's increased the amount he invests in the company as it moves beyond its desktop and server businesses into the mobile phone and tablet market with Ubuntu Touch.

"I think the desktop on its own will die," Shuttleworth said, explaining that it must be paired with mobile success to embrace the shifting nature of personal computing.
More at Ars Technica...



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