OLPC seeks CEO, Linux Foundation seeks Community Manager

Mar 10, 2008

The One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) organization is looking for a successor to founder and visionary Nicholas Negroponte; restructuring is already underway. The Linux Foundation, the organization that promotes the interests of Linux as a whole, and of its inventor Linus Torvalds, has a vacancy for a Community Manager.

College professor Nicholas Negroponte published the vacancy in an interview. He is looking for a CEO for OLPC, but will be staying with the organization as the chair of the supervisory board. The departing OLPC boss described the profile of his successor as a leader in the style of Kofi Annan, who sees "the world as a mission, not as a market". However, the OLPC News page takes a critical view of this: "instead of looking for an expert in primary education who can implement a strong global sales plan for the XO laptop, or even a technology expert, with deep ties to the Silicon Valley companies who can infuse OLPC with new purpose and partnerships, Negroponte is looking for a replica of himself."

The new CEO will be joining the organization at a difficult time: sales of the 100 dollar laptop have not achieved the forecasted figures and other low-priced models such as Asus’ Eee PC, or Intel’s Classmate PC are proving to be stiff competition. After some disputes with the professor, Intel has left the OLPC supervisory board and terminated its cooperation. At the same time the OLPC’s head developer launched her own business venture, and a company in Nigeria is suing the Foundation for US$ 20 m worth of damages. Negroponte also caused a stir with contradictory statements on cooperation with Microsoft. According to some sources, OLPC is considering handing over part of the development work to Microsoft, which will then supply a special version of Windows for the XO. There are also plans to involve Linux distributor Red Hat more closely with the project, while OLPC will concentrate on the development of prototypes and new ideas. Restructuring of OLPC into four organizational units is already said to be in full sway.

The top job offered by the Linux Foundation (LF) is no less demanding: the job advert for a Community Manager on the Internet refers to the "world class talent" needed to represent the Foundation. Besides a passion for Linux the new Community Manager will need both a technical and a business view of key topics in the Linux world. As a liaison officer between the Linux Foundation and its members, the new Community Manager will organize meetings, build teams for committees, fill in the LF’s managers on the necessary technical background, head and organize working groups. A corporate manager in the legacy sense of the world has little hope of success: "If you're used to a large staff to handle details for you, this is probably not the right job for you." Applicants with knowledge of modern Web technology are preferred, and well-founded Linux knowledge is a must: "You don't have to be a kernel programmer but you need to know who they are individually." Applications for the job in close cooperation with Linus Torvalds are welcome by email to the Foundation.

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