Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Richard Shuttleworth (born 18 September 1973) is a South African entrepreneur who was the second self-funded space tourist. Shuttleworth founded Canonical Ltd. and as of 2010, provides leadership for the Ubuntu operating system. He currently lives on the Isle of Man and holds dual citizenship of South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Early life
Shuttleworth was born in Welkom, Free State, South Africa as a son of a surgeon and a nursery school teacher. After attending school at Rondebosch Boys' High School and then Western Province Preparatory School and Diocesan College, Shuttleworth obtained a Business Science degree in Finance and Information Systems at the University of Cape Town. He lived in Smuts Hall, where he was involved in the installation of the first residential Internet connections at the university.

Shuttleworth founded Thawte in 1995, which specialised in digital certificates and Internet security and then sold it to VeriSign in December 1999, earning R 3.5 billion (about US$ 575 million at the time).

In September 2000, Shuttleworth formed HBD Venture Capital, a business incubator and venture capital provider. In March 2004 he formed Canonical Ltd., for the promotion and commercial support of free software projects. In December 2009, Shuttleworth stepped down as the C.E.O. of Canonical, Ltd.

Involvement in Linux and FOSS
In the 1990s, Shuttleworth participated as one of the developers of the Debian operating system.

In 2001 he formed the Shuttleworth Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to social innovation which also funds educational, free, and open source software projects in South Africa, such as the Freedom Toaster.

In 2004 he returned to the free software world by funding the development of Ubuntu, a Linux distribution based on Debian, through his company Canonical Ltd.

In 2005 he founded the Ubuntu Foundation and made an initial investment of 10 million dollars. In the Ubuntu project, Shuttleworth is often referred to with the tongue-in-cheek title Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, abbreviated SABDFL. To come up with a list of names of people to hire for the project, Shuttleworth took six months of Debian mailing list archives with him while travelling to Antarctica aboard the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in early 2004. In September 2005, he purchased a 65% stake of Impi Linux.

On 15 October 2006 it was announced that Mark Shuttleworth became the first patron of KDE, the highest level of sponsorship available.

On 17 December 2009 Mark announced that, effective March 2010, he would step down as CEO of Canonical to focus energy on product design, partnership and customers. Jane Silber, COO at Canonical since 2004, took on the job of CEO at Canonical.

In September 2010, he received an honorary degree from the Open University for this work.

Shuttleworth gained worldwide fame on 25 April 2002 as the second self-funded space tourist and the first ever African in space. Flying through Space Adventures, he launched aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission as a spaceflight participant, paying approximately US$ 20 million for the voyage. Two days later, the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station, where he spent eight days participating in experiments related to AIDS and genome research. On 5 May 2002, he returned to Earth on Soyuz TM-33. In order to participate in the flight, Shuttleworth had to undergo one year of training and preparation, including seven months spent in Star City, Russia.

While in space he had a radio conversation with Nelson Mandela and a 14 year old South African girl, Michelle Foster, who asked him to marry her. He politely dodged the question, stating that he was "very honoured at the question" before changing the subject. The terminally ill Miss Foster was provided the opportunity to have a conversation with Mark Shuttleworth and Nelson Mandela by the Reach for a Dream foundation.

He has a private jet, a Bombardier Global Express, which is often referred to as Canonical One but is in fact owned through his HBD Venture Capital company. The dragon depicted on the side of the plane is "Norman", the HBD Venture Capital mascot.

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