The Open Source CEO: Jim Whitehurst

Whitehurst opened our conversation by stating that the last eighteen months have been a tipping point for Red Hat. According to him, they’re “no longer fighting an uphill battle for credibility.” Nowadays the conversations he’s hearing with customers focus on the issue of price versus performance, rather than whether Red Hat is a viable player in the enterprise marketplace.

Red Hat’s big news is that they’ve broken a billion dollars in revenue, and are arguably the first all-open source company to do so. I’ve read some disagreement with the notion that Red Hat is a “pure play” open source company. I asked Whitehurst whether their earnings claims were just a matter of semantics: is Red Hat really a billion dollar open source software company, or a billion dollar support and services company? “We sell software,” was his immediate response.

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