Red Hat announced a new CEO last month when he promoted 16-year-old veteran Matt Hicks, who has been in the job for several weeks now. His predecessor, Paul Cormier, resigned to assume the position of president.
It’s never easy to make a transition like this, but Hicks has Cormier, his longtime mentor, to lean on as he takes the reins at Red Hat. In his new role, Hicks must distinguish between reassuring customers and employees of the stability of the company’s direction while pushing it forward and putting his own stamp on things.
For the most part, Hicks said he would continue on the same path as Cormier. IBM has allowed Red Hat to be mostly independent since its $34 billion purchase in 2018. IBM sells Red Hat services to leverage its business influence, but Red Hat has remained independent, with many partners in more IBM.
As Cormier told me of his relationship with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna in an interview in May: “The way Arvind characterizes Red Hat is that IBM will have an opinion on Red Hat, but that can’t work in the world. ‘other way. So this means that IBM has completely standardized Red Hat as [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 rose 9% in its latest earnings report last month. Red Hat grew by 12% and a major contributor to IBM’s growth strategy
It’s up to Hicks to maintain that while taking Red Hat to where it goes next. I recently spoke to him about the transition to his new role and what it means for everyone involved, from customers and employees to parent company IBM.