Jul 13, 2022 - Business

Red Hat's new CEO eyes future growth in cars and edge computing

A portrait photo of Matt Hicks

Matt Hicks, CEO of Red Hat. Photo: Courtesy of Red Hat

Raleigh-based Red Hat has tapped its head of products and technologies Matt Hicks as the new CEO of the open-source software company.

  • He replaces Paul Cormier, a longtime Red Hat veteran, who will move into the role of chairman.

Why it matters: Red Hat, which IBM acquired for $34 billion in 2019, is one of the largest tech employers in the Triangle, growing from a small startup to a multi-billion dollar venture over the course of two decades.

Driving the news: Hicks has worked at Red Hat since 2006 — a long track record that he said prepares him well for the role.

  • "I've loved every single role I have had at the company," he told Axios in a video interview, "from every role in IT you can imagine to probably every role in engineering and products. I feel well trained to take this spot."
Red Hat year-over-year percentage revenue growth
Data: IBM; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

What's next: Hicks said he believes there's still plenty of room for Red Hat to grow — especially in emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and edge computing.

  • Red Hat recently revealed it is collaborating with General Motors on software for its future vehicles. And it is helping industrial giant ABB improve its manufacturing automation software.
  • "We have a lot to deliver with traditional enterprises today, as they move to cloud and then move to hybrid, Hicks said. "But we also have a great future opportunity ahead of us."

Though Hicks, like his predecessor Cormier, lives in Boston, Red Hat is headquartered in Raleigh. More than 2,500 employees are based out of its downtown tower.

  • Hicks said office space remains important for Red Hat, but it is still fine tuning its approach to hybrid work. Even before the pandemic, Red Hat was letting workers work remotely.
  • "I do feel like we've gotten better at being able to bridge both of those," he said. "So I think the office work-style will change but I still think it's going to be an important aspect."

Context: Red Hat has become a linchpin of the financial performance of technology giant IBM, which has also has a large presence in the region. Red Hat's own revenues have steadily grown since being acquired by IBM.

  • Red Hat's software has been used to bolster IBM's hybrid cloud computing business, which helps customers analyze data across private data centers and public cloud services, like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Zoom out: Hicks takes the leadership reins at a time when the broader tech economy is seeing a cool down. Other large tech firms, like Meta and Google, have announced hiring slow downs and tech layoffs have accelerated recently.

  • Hicks said Red Hat still needs to hire talent to meet its growth needs, but it's always been a cost-conscious company.
  • "We will always be really focused on execution on costs," he said. "We were 20 years ago. We are today. But I think we're in a good spot with that. But it’ll be something we'll continue to watch."

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