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Red Hat names new CEO as Jim Whitehurst becomes IBM’s president

Red Hat, the Raleigh-based open-source software company, has tapped Paul Cormier as its new chief executive officer, replacing longtime leader Jim Whitehurst, who was recently promoted to become president of IBM.

Cormier, an insider choice, has worked at Red Hat since 2001, most recently serving as Red Hat’s president of products and technologies.

“After working with him closely for more than a decade, I can confidently say that Paul was the natural choice to lead Red Hat,” Whitehurst said in a statement.

“Having been the driving force behind Red Hat’s product strategy for nearly two decades, he’s been intimately involved in setting the company’s direction and uniquely understands how to help customers and partners make the most out of their cloud strategy.”

“He is a proven leader and his commitment to open source principles and ways of working will enable Red Hat not only to keep pace with the demands of enterprise IT, but also lead the way as emerging technologies break into the mainstream,” Whitehurst added.

Cormier is credited with helping craft the vision for a lot of Red Hat’s strategy over the past decade. Red Hat said Cormier pioneered the company’s subscription model that helped its revenue skyrocket from more than $500 million at the start of his tenure to almost $3 billion at the end of the company’s 2018 fiscal year.

Red Hat said Cormier also spearheaded 25 acquisitions by Red Hat that have pushed the company beyond its Linux software roots to becoming a company that can offer a diverse array of services to the IT industry.

Importantly, Red Hat also noted that Cormier has long been a proponent of the hybrid cloud model. The company’s capabilities around the hybrid cloud, in which companies use a mix of on-site, private and third-party cloud services, are what IBM has said attracted the company to purchase Red Hat.

Many in the Raleigh area were watching to see how Red Hat would handle Whitehurst’s promotion at IBM, following the retirement of IBM’s longtime president and CEO Ginni Rometty, who helped complete IBM’s $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat. In response to her decision to retire, IBM split its leadership positions with Arvind Krishna becoming CEO and Whitehurst becoming president.

Red Hat is one of the largest employers in downtown Raleigh, where its headcount has surged into the thousands.

“When I joined Red Hat, it would have been impossible to predict how Linux and open source would change our world, but they are truly everywhere,” Cormier said in a statement. “The transformations I see happening in our industry are exciting, as they present new challenges and opportunities. The opportunity for Red Hat has never been bigger than it is today and I am honored to lead the company to help our customers solve their challenges and to keep Red Hat at the forefront of innovation.”

In a letter to employees, Cormier bemoaned the fact that the company is unable to be together at the moment to discuss the leadership changes. Most Red Hatters are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is presenting another potential hurdle for the company’s new CEO.

He promised employees the company will emerge from this period of disruption stronger.

“This is going to be a marathon,” he said, “and it’s more important than ever to continue to support one another right now.”

―News Observer

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