SugarCRM CEO Roberts replaced by board member

John Roberts, the fiery commercial open-source innovator, resigns for undisclosed reasons and is immediately replaced by interim CEO and SugarCRM board member Larry Augustin.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

John Roberts on Wednesday resigned from his post as CEO of open-source CRM vendor SugarCRM, leaving board member Larry Augustin to assume the role of interim CEO while the company conducts a formal search for his replacement.

John Roberts SugarCRM

Roberts, whose grounds for leaving the company and future plans remain undisclosed, has made a huge impact on the open-source world, innovating the "Open Core" business model and helping drive open-source applications into the enterprise.

SugarCRM, despite losing Roberts, will be in good hands with Larry Augustin, who, as founder and former CEO of VA Linux, sits on a number of open-source company boards, including Pentaho, Compiere, Appcelerator, and Medsphere. He understands how to run an open-source business and, importantly, what to look for in leadership. Augustin should be able to find a strong CEO to lead SugarCRM.

Augustin's near-term task is clear, as he outlines in his blog announcing the change in leadership:

Yesterday, I stepped into the role of interim CEO at the company. I have an immense amount of respect for the founding CEO, John Roberts...My goals for the next 30 days at SugarCRM are fairly simple: get to know the team, customers, and partners. I am looking forward to helping them to continue to execute and (taking) the company to the next level.

In other words, continue the solid work that Roberts started.

I first met Roberts at an SDForum event in 2004, at which time I thought that he was crazy for believing open source could succeed in applications. He and his SugarCRM team persisted in their Quixotic dream, building SugarCRM into a thriving company that brought in tens of millions of dollars in sales last year and has an eye on an IPO.

I couldn't reach Roberts for comment but hope that he spends a little of his downtime on cycling, one of his passions, before he leaps back into the open-source world. As Augustin notes of Roberts, "Few people have taken a company from concept to major growth the way John did at Sugar."

I agree. Roberts will be missed. Fortunately, his legacy should live on at SugarCRM, one of the pioneers of commercial open source.

Disclosure: I am an adviser to SugarCRM.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.