Two months after settling in as CEO in November 1999,
Matt Szulik watched Red Hat's stock price begin a free fall that
would unnerve investors, drive away disillusioned employees, and
raise questions about the company's very existence.
Critics of Linux --an operating system created by volunteer
programmers and licensed for free--said it couldn't create a
profitable business as Red Hat had promised. But Szulik made a
full-court press on Wall Street and successfully hurried through a
secondary offering that left the company's coffers flush.
"The $300 million in the bank on the balance sheet was key,"
said Peter von Schilling, a senior analyst at Merrill Lynch. "It
removed any kind of doubt that Red Hat is sustainable."