Red Hat announced a new CEO last month when it promoted 16-year veteran Matt Hicks, who’s been on the job for several weeks now. His predecessor, Paul Cormier, stepped down to move into the chairman role.
It’s never easy making a transition like this, but Hicks has Cormier, his longtime mentor, to lean on as he takes the Red Hat reins. In his new role, Hicks has to walk the line between reassuring customers and employees that there will be stability in the company’s leadership while moving it forward and putting his own mark on things.
For the most part, Hicks said he will continue on the same path as Cormier. IBM has allowed Red Hat to be independent for the most part since purchasing it for $34 billion in 2018. IBM sells Red Hat services to take advantage of its sales clout, but Red Hat has remained independent, with many partners besides IBM.
As Cormier told me about his relationship with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna in a May interview: “The way Arvind characterizes Red Hat is that IBM will be opinionated on Red Hat, but it can’t work the other way around. So what that means is IBM has completely standardized on Red Hat as the [company’s] hybrid platform,” Cormier said.
Under Cormier, Red Hat helped IBM return to growth after a long period of stagnation. Big Blue’s revenue was up 9% in its most recent earnings report last month. Red Hat grew 12% and has been a big contributor to IBM’s growth strategy
It’s up to Hicks to keep that going while taking Red Hat wherever it’s going to go next. I spoke to him recently about the transition to his new role and what it means for all parties involved, from customers and employees to parent company IBM.