Linux power SUSE appoints New CEO Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen

Melissa Di Donato, SUSE's CEO for the last four years, steps down

Europe's leading Linux company, SUSE, has announced that veteran Unix and Linux executive Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen will take over as its CEO starting May 1, 2023. Melissa Di Donato, the current CEO, is stepping down immediately to pursue the next chapter of her career. During the transition, CFO Andy Myers will serve as interim CEO alongside his CFO role.

Why this sudden change in leadership? We don't know. Di Donato was a good CEO. She oversaw the successful acquisition of Rancher Labs in 2020. This positioned SUSE as a serious Kubernetes services contender. For any software infrastructure business to be taken seriously in 2023, it must have a strong Kubernetes position. During her tenure, SUSE's revenues increased by over 60% and its adjusted EBITDA by over 70%.

She also guided SUSE to its IPO on the Frankfurt stock exchange. While not an outstanding IPO, an IPO for €1.1 billion is still nothing to sneeze at.

True, SUSE's stock has slowly sunk over the last 12 calendar months from a high of €31.30 to €15.50. But, with even the FAANG stocks declining by over 3 trillion dollars in 2022, it wasn't a good year for anyone.

As for SUSE itself, the Luxenberg-based business continues to grow both income and profits. The company saw its revenue go up to $168.4 million, up 9.7% from the year-ago quarter, while its net income, $6.19 million, leaped up from a $12.8 million loss in 2022's first quarter. At the time, Di Donato, said, “Despite the challenging environment, our resilient business model, constant innovation, and our expanding markets make us confident in our sustainable growth in the years ahead.”

As Di Donato left, Jonas Persson, Chair of the SUSE Supervisory Board, said, "Her work has strengthened SUSE’s global brand and set it up for success in the coming years. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors."

As for Van Leeuwen, he has vast experience as a Unix and Linux executive. Formerly, Red Hat's senior Vice President and General Manager of North America and SCO's Director Benelux & Nordics--when SCO was a Unix company and hadn't turned to the dark side--he knows the Unix/Linux business backward and forwards.

Looking ahead, Van Leeuwen said, ". I know that SUSE’s people are some of the best in the industry, and I am excited to see what we can achieve together.”

They are indeed some of the best of the best. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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