Red Hat announced a new CEO last month when it promoted 16-year veteran Matt Hicks, who has been at work for several weeks now. His predecessor, Paul Cormier, stepped down to assume the role of chairman.
It’s never easy to make such a transition, but Hicks has Cormier, his old mentor, to lean on as he Red Hat reins. In his new role, Hicks must walk the line between reassuring customers and employees that there will be stability in the company’s leadership as it moves forward and puts its own stamp on the business.
For the most part, Hicks said he will continue on the same path as Cormier. IBM has largely let Red Hat be independent since its purchase for $34 billion in 2018. IBM sells Red Hat services to take advantage of its sales power, but Red Hat has remained independent, with many partners in addition to IBM.
As Cormier told me about his relationship with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna in an interview in May, “The way Arvind characterizes Red Hat is that IBM will have its own opinion about Red Hat, but it can’t work the other way around. So what that means is that IBM is fully standardized on Red Hat as the [company’s] hybrid platform,” said Cormier.
Under Cormier, Red Hat helped IBM grow again after a long period of stagnation. Big Blue’s revenue increased by 9% in the most recent earnings report last month. Red Hat grew 12% and has been a major contributor to IBM’s growth strategy
It’s up to Hicks to keep that going as he takes Red Hat everywhere he goes. I recently spoke to him about the transition into his new role and what it means for all parties involved, from customers and employees to parent company IBM.