Red Hat CTO unexpectedly quits, amid rumors of executive 'friction'

Red Hat CTO unexpectedly quits, amid rumors of executive 'friction'

Summary: In a surprising move, long-time Red Hat executive Brian Stevens has stepped down from the company, as staffers suspect friction in the executive suite.

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Long-time Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens has left the company. (Image: Red Hat)

No-one among the rank and file at Red Hat seem to have seen this coming. In a move the Linux giant's staffers said was "shocking" and a "punch in the gut," long-time Red Hat chief technology officer Brian Stevens has resigned.

In a short press release, the company announced: "Brian Stevens will step down as CTO."

In the same release, Red Hat's president and chief executive Jim Whitehurst said, "We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat’s business. We wish him well in his future endeavors."

Until Red Hat picks a new CTO, his office will be managed by Red Hat's president of products and technologies Paul Cormier.

Officially, Red Hat has nothing more to say about the matter.

But some Red Hat employees speculated that Stevens may have left because of friction between Stevens and Cormier. They observed that CTO office had been moved out from underneath Cormier's control some time back. However, no one said that was any kind of current feud that might have lead to this move.

Others suggested that perhaps Stevens wanted to move up to a CEO slot and that would never happen within the company.

Stevens, whose Red Hat page was taken down minutes after the news was released, had been with Red Hat since 2001. Before that he had been the CTO at Mission Critical Linux, and a senior architect at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where he worked on Digital's UNIX operating system. Today it lives on as HP's Tru64. In technical circles, he's perhaps best known for his work on the X Window System, the foundation of Unix and Linux graphic systems. 

While at Red Hat, Stevens often outlines the company's technical and business plans for the public. Most recently for example, he spoke at Gigaom Structure on Red Hat and OpenStack. Before that, he laid out Red Hat's future technology plans at Red Hat Summit in April.

Outside of Red Hat, Stevens has been on the boards of the IEEE Computer Society and the OpenStack Foundation.

Stevens has played a major role at Red Hat and open-source technology for over a decade. It will be interesting to see what both he, and Red Hat, will do moving forward.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Leadership

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16 comments
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  • Wish you well Brian Stevens in what ever you do next.
    daikon
  • Here's the real story

    According to inside source, he was replaced by systemd-ctod. He tried to prevent the implementation, it was a good fight, but it was one he could not win.
    Anoonamai
    • Not true!

      You need to get better sources!
      KG123
    • I thought it would be the inverse...

      Who can tell... besides him.
      jessepollard
  • On to new things!

    Brian did some amazing things while at RH. I am sure he's going to do more amazing things in the future!
    wantoosevin
  • Red Hat CTO unexpectedly quits, amid rumors of executive 'friction'

    He realizes that Red Hat and linux are a sinking ship so he's getting out early. Can't blame him for that. Everyone sees the writing on the wall for linux and soon it will be dissolved. Some us know its going to happen like this CTO, others will be blind to it and go down.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • No

      Truth is not relative and facts are not opinions
      daikon
    • So, you're saying he left for the same reason Steve Ballmer left MS?

      I think you are right about Steve, but wrong about Brian.
      anothercanuck
    • You're wrong...

      ...and you're obviously not a Linux user...at least not by choice.
      Galidari
    • Of course

      Linux is a sinking ship ... just ask google, and amazon and IBM ... and HP and all the other big companies !!!
      NASA, CERN etc etc etc ... nice going showing off your ignorance in public
      Moreirix
    • Linux is a sinking ship?

      Because all the servers running the cloud will soon be replaced by the Surface RTs that no one bought. And those hundreds of millions of Android devices are going to go away because who wouldn't rather spend three times as much for something with an apple on it? Microsoft is a sinking ship if anything is. They were late and ineffectual in the mobile venue and will never recover. Nokia's Windows phones won't save them, nor will the Surface 3, 4, or whatever. Linux will never be a desktop OS for the masses, but it's sure running enough of the Internet, both client and server-side.
      Iman Oldgeek
    • BS

      it was some M$ covert operation to weaken its rival.
      LlNUX Geek
  • Sinking Ship? Thats a good one.

    If linux sinks, so does the entire infrastructure of the internet bozo. On a second note, its good to see Steven write something that isn't pro Google. Good job Steven, I'm proud of you.
    unleashpc
    • Hardly

      Not to say the "sinking" thing isn't silly but there are several other kernel options and they all run the same software. It's the applications that run the internet and not one particular kernel. Apache, Java, and PHP on the other hand are some of the key elements. Redhat as a company seems to be doing just fine with incremental revenue growth.
      Buster Friendly
  • not a sinking ship

    former red hat employee here. linux is definitely not a sinking ship if you look at their growth projections. the market is getting tough with the product mix of their recent technology acquisitions and the rhel vs cent and other free linux distros conversation. Brian's a good guy, I wish him well. I can see that he may have wanted to be the ceo, but that position is locked.
    bennyhan
  • Too Much Competition

    When Red Hat started, they were somewhat of the lone voice for monetizing Linux directly. They took some heat but moved forward and were successful. Today, the playing field is so much more difficult and full, especially with every major hardware vendor providing their own version of Linux solutions. For Red Hat it must be an exponentially difficult market to navigate and stay relevant, growing and profitable. Overall, "Linux" ( whatever that really is these days) is not a "sinking ship" and the growth, use and influence of that entire ecosystem compared to when Red Hat started is nothing short of phenomenal. The world of computing was put on a completely different trajectory with the introduction of Linux and the licensing models around it.
    Cloud Guy