Mark Shuttleworth, the South African-born entrepreneur who founded Linux distribution provider Canonical, will be stepping down from his post as company CEO, Canonical announced. Jane Silber, currently the chief operating officer and director of online services for the company, will take the role of CEO by March 1.
Shuttleworth said the shift in duties came about to address the commercial demands the company faces.
“We’re growing into markets which demand a level of rigor and operational discipline that Jane has brought to the various pieces [of the company] she has led in the past,” Shuttleworth said. “Between her and I, we’ve always brought two different styles to the leadership. But I think it’s appropriate for Canonical to have more commercial focus at the top over the next five years.”
“What is changing is our relationship with customers and partners, and the demands on the business and how we satisfying our customers. We will continue to increase the emphasis of building that ecosystem around Ubuntu, both in the enterprise and with OEM and consumer markets,” Silber said.
Shuttleworth will continue to focus on product design and development for Canonical, as well as meet with partners and customers. He will also continue his participation in the Ubuntu Community Council and the Ubuntu Technical Board.  “I will retain my focus on Canonical and Ubuntu,” he said in a conference call with the press.
A privately-held company, Canonical offers Ubuntu, an operating system based on the Linux kernel, customized for desktop and laptop computers, for notebook computers and for servers. The company has been increasingly working with commercial and enterprise computer suppliers, such as Dell, to outfit their products with Ubuntu.
Silber joined Canonical in 2004, and has overseen many of the day-to-day operations of the company, such as the Ubuntu One public cloud offering, corporate services and the company’s marketing, finance and legal operations. She has had considerable corporate and software development experience, having logged time doing artificial intelligence research and product development for the Japan-based Teijin, as well as working as vice president of command and control systems for U.S. defense integrator General Dynamics.
The company will commence a search for someone to fill the chief operating officer role, as well as oversee Ubuntu One.