Mark Shuttleworth is not selling Canonical or Ubuntu -- yet

Mark Shuttleworth might consider selling Canonical and its Ubuntu Linux operating system, if he were still in charge of it afterwards.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

At OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, said in his keynote the question he gets asked the most is "What does he make of IBM buying Red Hat?" His reply is that IBM had spent too much, but with the growth of the cloud it would probably work out for them.

Actually, the question most of us wanted him to answer is: "After IBM paid a cool $34-billion would he consider selling Canonical?" After all, Canonical is also a top Linux company with a arguably a much stronger cloud and container presence than Red Hat. By The Cloud Market's latest count of Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances, Ubuntu dominates with 307,217 instances to Red Hat's 20,311. Even so, in a show floor conversation, Shuttleworth said, "No, I value my independence."

That's not to say he's not willing to listen to proposals. But he has his own vision for Canonical and Ubuntu Linux. If someone were to make him an offer, which would leave him in charge of both and help him further his plans, then he might go for it. Maybe.

It would have to be a heck of an offer though, even by post-Red Hat acquisition terms. Shuttleworth doesn't need the money. What he wants is to make his mark in technology history.

Of course, that requires money. But he told me that Canonical has been slowly but surely winning over former Red Hat customers. In his keynote, Shuttleworth said the company has been winning many telecom customers and that now five out of the top twenty-five banks are using Ubuntu. Specifically, he mentioned, AT&T, CenturyLink, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Docomo, SoftBank, and Walmart as Canonical customers.

Clearly, Canonical isn't hurting for cash. In any case, Shuttleworth still plans on a Canonical Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2019.

So, for now Canonical, under Shuttleworth's firm hand, will continue to go its own way.

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