Back in 2008, when Canonical was still ramping up as big Linux player – Mark Shuttleworth told me that his company was not cash flow positive. At the time, that made sense, after all what startup is immediately profitable.
Fast forward to 2013 and during a call announcing Ubuntu for Tablets and Shuttleworth once again said that his company was still not profitable.
That’s right folks after over four years of desktop, server and cloud innovation and talk – Shuttleworth is still not actually making money from Linux. If you were to look back and see how long it took Shuttleworth to make money on his first company — Thawte (for SSL certificates)- I strongly suspect the road was not as long.
Does it matter?
Shuttleworth said during his tablet press conference call today that his company’s push into mobile is over and above what they have been doing on desktops and servers. He expects that mobile will help to power his company to profitability.
“I would expect it (mobile) will expand Ubuntu as a brand and platform,” Shuttleworth said.
In light of Red Hat’s stellar success ($1 Billion plus in revenues), we know that a Linux vendor can generate revenues and be profitable. What’s not clear is whether Canonical will be as financially successful as Red Hat, or perhaps even more successful thanks to its consumer mobile activities (or whether Canonical will run out of money).
Time will tell.