These moves were all being made to start Canonical on its road to an IPO. Canonical has been doing well. As Silber said recently, " Ubuntu has industry adoption that is both broad and deep. Companies such as Walmart, Netflix, and eBay build their infrastructure on Ubuntu. Telcos such as Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, and NTT build their next-generation telecom capabilities on Ubuntu."
Canonical was doing well with Ubuntu and cloud and container-related technologies, such as Juju, LXD, and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS). In addition, its OpenStack and Kubernetes software stacks, according to Shuttleworth, are growing by leaps and bounds on both the public and private cloud.
Shuttleworth said "in the last year, Ubuntu cloud growth had been 70 percent on the private cloud and 90 percent on the public cloud." In particular, "Ubuntu has been gaining more customers on the big five public clouds."
What hadn't succeeded was Canonical's attempt to make Unity the universal interface for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Shuttleworth was personally invested in this project, but at day's end, it wasn't getting enough adoption to make it profitable.
So, Shuttleworth said with regret, Unity had to be dropped. Still, he continued, "Canonical will do everything we can to support the community Unity developers. We will make their lives easier." As for Canonical's decision to support GNOME as its default desktop, "We're no longer trying to create our own interface. We'll support the existing ones -- KDE, MATE, Lxde -- but while all these desktops are great, GNOME presents the least change for users."
This move also means Canonical will devote more of its time to "putting the company on the path to a IPO. We must figure out what steps we need to take moving forward." That means focusing on Canonical's most profitable lines. Specifically, "Ubuntu will never die. Ubuntu is the default platform on cloud computing. Juju, MaaS, and OpenStack are nearly unstoppable. We need to work out more of our IoT path. At the same time, we had to cut out those parts that couldn't meet an investors' needs. The immediate work is get all parts of the company profitable."
Still, there is "no timeline for the IPO." First, Shuttleworth wants all parts of the slimmed down Canonical to be profitable. Then "we will take a round of investment." After that, Canonical will go public.
How long will this take? Shuttleworth only said it "will be sooner rather than later."