Red Hat announced new CEO last month when he promoted 16-year veteran Matt Hicks, who has been on the job for several weeks. His predecessor, Paul Cormier, stepped down to take on the role of chairman.
It’s never easy to make such a transition, but Hicks has Cormier, his longtime mentor, to lean on as he takes the 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, while moving it forward and putting his own stamp on things.
For the most part, Hicks said he will continue on the same path as Cormier. IBM has allowed Red Hat to be largely independent since it bought it for $34 billion in 2018. IBM sells Red Hat services to capitalize on its sales clout, but Red Hat has remained independent, with many partners other than 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 have an opinion on Red Hat, but it can’t work in reverse. So this means that IBM has fully standardized 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 revenue up 9% in its most recent earnings report last month. Red Hat grew by 12% and contributed significantly to IBM’s growth strategy
It’s up to Hicks to continue this while taking Red Hat wherever it goes next. I spoke to him recently about the transition to his new role and what it means for everyone involved, from customers and employees to parent company IBM.