South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of software company Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, an open-source Linux operating system, has announced plans to take the company public in 2023, according to a news report on Techcrunch.
In a press briefing on Thursday, which coincided with the launch of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, Shuttleworth noted that he now expects Canonical to go public next year.
“We are on track to float the business. And now I’m pretty confident that we will do that in 2023,” said Shuttleworth, who was calling in from an undisclosed island off the coast of West Africa. “And so we’re taking active steps at the board level and in our finance operation — various other parts of the business — to be prepared for that. We’re now effectively on a very clear program to a flotation of the business next year.”
According to Shuttleworth, Canonical is financially buoyant and is not listing publicly because it is looking to raise money. He stated that Canonical’s revenue was $175 million last year, and that the company’s main difficulty right now is that demand is outstripping the company’s ability to meet it, in part due to a scarcity of talent on the market.
“My biggest concern as we move through all of that — as we grow both the number of colleagues and shift to being a public company with that sort of accountability — is to find the balance between preserving what I think people really love about Ubuntu and Canonical and also continuing to step up to the responsibilities that I think we now have in the global tech market,” he said. “We’re very committed to the idea that as we grow, we’re not going to do that in a way which is shallow or causes problems for us further down the line — we are quite conservative in how we grow.”
Shuttleworth, 48, made the remarks during a press conference held prior of the release of Ubuntu’s latest long-term support release. Support for secret computing on Microsoft Azure, optimized images for AWS’s Arm-based Graviton machines, desktop support for the Raspberry Pi 4, and more are included in this new version, 22.04 LTS.
As a student at the University of Cape Town in 1995, Shuttleworth founded Thawte Consulting, an Internet security company that specialises in digital certificates and internet security. Thawte went on to become a leader in Internet security for electronic commerce. In December 1999, He sold Thawte to VeriSign for $575 million, and became one of the richest South Africans at the age of 25.