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Linuxcare co-founder resumes CEO job

The company closes European operations and returns its original chief executive to the top job after a months-long search for a new leader.

Linuxcare has closed European operations and returned its original chief executive to the top job after a months-long search for a new leader.

At the same time that Linuxcare co-founder Art Tyde resumed the CEO role, the acting head of the office of the CEO, Pat Lambs, left the company. "She and her husband have decided to move away from the (San Francisco) Bay Area. That was more of a coincidence than anything else," Tyde said in an interview Friday.

Tyde was CEO until the company hired Fernand Sarrat in May 1999. Sarrat left in April amid turmoil at the company, layoffs and a postponed initial public offering.

"After looking at a lot of different CEOs, how the company is being run and where we're going, the board said, 'We've got a lot of success. Maybe it's a good idea to focus on me as CEO,'" Tyde said. Employees can expect a different style as a result.

"I'm one of the founders of the company. I have a very open-source-positive attitude," Tyde said, referring to the collaborative programming philosophy that underlies the development of the Linux operating system. "I support the vision. I believe in the development model."

Linuxcare has "good traction in North America and Asia-Pacific," Tyde said, but it would have cost too much to establish a solid business in Europe. "We decided to close down our European operation."

Cutting the European business meant about 20 percent of the company's staff lost jobs Thursday, almost all in sales and administrative positions and not in Linuxcare's core support staff.

The withdrawal leaves more room for companies such as Red Hat, VA Linux Systems and IBM, which are all working to offer Linux services globally to customers who need help installing, configuring and running computers using the comparatively new operating system.

After withdrawing its IPO plans, Linuxcare secured an additional $30 million in funding. Tyde said the company expects to be profitable by the end of 2001 and possibly well before that.

One big part of profitability will be trying to automate the delivery of customer services as much as possible, Tyde said. Part of that effort is an internal program, code-named Wargames.

In another executive change, chief financial officer Chris Paul has become chief operating officer, Tyde said.

Steffen Low will step up to fill Lambs' position as leader of the company's services business.