Goodbye Canonical, Hello XPRIZE

After nearly eight years of service at Canonical, I will be stepping down as the Ubuntu Community Manager and leaving my fellow warthogs at Canonical on 29th May 2014.

I have always been passionate about two things in my life. Firstly, I want to go to work every day and feel that my efforts are having a wider impact on the world. Secondly, I believe that community and collaboration is at the core what makes us human and what drives us to create beautiful things.

Canonical has provided room for me to explore both of these areas in droves. Free Software is an undeniable power for good in making technology accessible to all. Ubuntu has been at the forefront of this; focusing on simplicity, elegance, and ease of use to make technology as accessible and widely available as possible. Canonical and the Ubuntu Community has also provided an environment in which I could explore the many facets of community building, leadership, and growth…trying lots of ideas, learning from what worked and what didn’t, and evolving what we do.

This has resulted in me having the opportunity to learn from great people, in fun and challenging situations, and to further the art and science of building great communities.

A new chapter

…and this is where a new chapter in my life opens.

Recently I was presented with the opportunity to go and work at the XPRIZE Foundation.

For those of you unfamiliar with XPRIZE, their focus is to solve the major problems facing humanity. This work is delivered by incentivized competitions to solve these grand challenges.

This started with the $10million Ansari XPRIZE that spawned the commercial space-flight industry. Other examples include the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE (to create an affordable handheld device to diagnose health issues), the Google Lunar XPRIZE (to achieve the safe landing of a private craft on the surface of the moon), the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE (improving our understanding of ocean acidification), and the A.I XPRIZE (create the first A.I. to walk or roll out on stage and present a TED Talk so compelling that it commands a standing ovation).

XPRIZE is an organization with significant ideas and ambitions to have a profound impact on the world. If you want to get a better feel for this, I recommend you watch this video by founder, Peter Diamandis; it is tremendously inspiring.

Peter believes that competition is in our DNA. I believe that collaboration and community is in our DNA. As you can imagine, these concepts are complimentary to each other and this is why I feel like this such a natural fit for me.

As such, I will be joining XPRIZE as Senior Director of Community. I will be there to look at the full breadth of what XPRIZE does and inject community and collaboration into the many different layers from how the prizes are picked, how teams are formed, how R&D is created, how technologies go into production, and more. I am tremendously excited about the opportunity.

Difficult decisions

Although XPRIZE is an exciting (if unknown) road forward, leaving Canonical is bittersweet.

To put this in starker terms, Canonical quite literally changed my life. It helped to transform my career from a position of observation of communities to one of structured best practice. It helped me to think differently, challenge myself, and be open to being challenged by others. It afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, meet incredible people, see incredible things, and ultimately led me to meet my wife, Erica, who has become the corner-stone of our family. This was never a job, it was a way of life, and Canonical provided every ounce of support in helping me to achieve what I did here and to be the best that I could be.

Working with the Ubuntu community has not just been a privilege, it has been a pleasure. One of the many reasons why I love what I do is that I am exposed to so many incredible people, minds, and ideas, and the Ubuntu community is a text-book definition of what makes community so powerful and such an agent for making the world a better place. I will be forever thankful for not just the opportunity to meet so many different members of the global Ubuntu family, but to also continue these many friendships into my next endeavour.

Now, some of you reading this may be concerned by this move. Some of you may be worried that my departure is due to a negative experience at Canonical, or that the community is somehow less important than it used to be. I want to be very clear in responding to this.

I am not leaving Canonical due to annoyance, frustration, bureaucracy, lack of support or anything else negative. I have a wonderful relationship with Mark Shuttleworth, Jane Silber, Rick Spencer and the other executives. I have a great relationship with my peers and my team, and I love going to work every single day. These people are not just colleagues, they are friends. I have long said I have the very best job in community management and I feel as strong about that today as I did when I joined.

I am not leaving Canonical due to problems, I am moving on to a new opportunity at XPRIZE. I actually wasn’t looking for a move; I was quite content in my role at Canonical, but XPRIZE came out of nowhere, and it felt like a good next step to move forward to.

Likewise, I can assure you that the relationship with community at Canonical has not changed at all. Mark Shuttleworth and the rest of the leadership team are passionate about our community and they are intimately aware that our community is critical to the success of Ubuntu.

I believe in Ubuntu as much as I did when I joined. I have long talked about how Free Software and Open Source is only truly game-changing if the technology is simple, powerful, and accessible. Ubuntu is the very best place to get Open Source across the desktop, cloud, and now the mobile space too. Canonical has hired a phenomenal team over the years to drive this, and we are seeing the fruits of this success. I look forward to seeing this story unfold more and more and seeing Canonical achieve wider and wider ambitions.

Before I wrap up, I just want to offer some thanks to Mark Shuttleworth, Jane Silber, Rick Spencer, my team, my peers in the Ubuntu Engineering Management Team, my fellow warthogs at Canonical, and everyone in the Ubuntu community for being so supportive over the years. You all helped me turn my dream into a reality and help me become the person I am today.

I also want to say a special thank-you to Mark who gave me a shot in 2006 and has been a constant beacon of support and inspiration for so many years. I consider Mark a mentor, but more importantly a friend.

We have taken on some tough challenges over the years in Ubuntu, challenges that were necessary for us to grow. I have never questioned Mark’s commitment to our values and our success as a project once, and I am thankful for him to lead Ubuntu towards success; successful projects need leaders who can constantly ask new questions and explore new territory.

You don’t get rid of me that easily

Now, I won’t actually be going anywhere. I will still be hanging out on IRC, posting on my social media networks, still responding to email, and will continue to do Bad Voltage and run the Community Leadership Summit. I will continue to be an Ubuntu Member, to use Ubuntu on my desktop and server, and continue to post about and share my thoughts about where Ubuntu is moving forward. I am looking forward in many ways to experiencing the true Ubuntu community experience now I will be on the other side of the garden.

As I step out of my position at Canonical, I am hugely proud of the accomplishments of my team (Daniel Holbach, David Planella, Michael Hall, Nicholas Skaggs, Alan Pope (and alumni, Jorge Castro, Kyle Nitzsche, Ahmed Kamal)). I can’t think of a better group of people to continue to help our community to do great work and be successful.

To wrap things up, I will be doing my very last Q&A session on Tuesday 27th May 2014 at 6pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air – I hope to see you all there!

So, here is to fun and fond memories, and here is to a new set of challenges helping to create a a better world with XPRIZE. Thanks!

  • Riccardo Padovani

    Thanks for all, good luck and good bye :-)

  • Alan Bell

    That is an amazing opportunity, go grab it!

  • Nathan Haines

    Wow, what an exciting opportunity! So what is it with Ubuntu and spaceflight? 😉

    I’m going to miss seeing so much of you at conventions, but maybe next time we’ll get to relax more!

  • David Goodwin

    That sounds like an awesome opportunity.

    Good luck !

  • Fery Wardiyanto

    Good Luck and Ubuntu Community will miss you as their manager :)

  • CSRedRat

    Expected, bye and good luck 😉

  • fodzec

    Good luck! Thank you for all the years, thank you for “Dealing With Disrespect”. :)

  • elimisteve

    Thanks for everything, Jono.

    I sure hope this inspires Mark Shuttleworth to give an epically inspiring speech about how open source is changing the world, how it’s the only thing between us and being dominated by ubiquitous surveillance in back-doored closed source software, and so on.

  • andylockran

    Congratulations Jono – seems like a perfect opportunity for you to take. The XPrize is an awesome concept, and I hope you can inject as much enthusiasm, professionalism and inspiration into that role as you have done in your current role at Canonical.

  • IdleOne

    Can’t wait to read about all your new adventures. Congrats.

  • Mac

    Gracias Jono… ¡Buena suerte!

  • Darko Vrsic

    Great! Thanks for everything you’ve done for Ubuntu and Free Software. Good luck!

  • Jefferson Kirkland

    Congratulations on the new job!!! We will miss your Ubuntu posts, but definitely look forward to hearing about your new adventure(s).

  • Ben Collins

    Good luck on what I’m sure will be an amazing new chapter in your life, my friend.

  • Anonymous

    To be honest, I thought you were a poor choice for Canonical for a lot of years. But at some point, that changed, and you now have been a critical part of the company for a very long time, always one of the first persons that comes to my mind when thinking about Ubuntu. I’ll miss you :-(

  • Daniel Mery

    Good luck Jono I wish you the best

  • Jorge Castro

    It’s been a great 7 years man; now that I don’t work for you I can finally make fun of you. :p

  • System76

    We wish you all the best, Jono! You’ve been an excellent community manager for Ubuntu and you will aspire to great things at XPRIZE. Best of luck to you!

  • Brian Haugen

    Congratulations! I know you’ll be welcomed wherever you choose to bring your talents!

  • Steven Rosenberg

    Jono, thank you for all you’ve done for both Ubuntu and free software. All the best in your new endeavor.

  • Bruno Girin

    When an opportunity like this knocks on your door, you have to take it. Congratulations! Thank you for shaping the Ubuntu community, for being a voice of reason when Canonical took controversial decisions, for writing “Dealing with Disrespect” and for everything else you’ve done for free software. Have fun at XPRIZE!

  • Benjamin Kerensa

    Congrats Jono!

  • Badr Rahmani

    . Good luck!

  • Michael DeGuzis

    Best of luck Jono! It was a pleasure having you in the Linux Action Show IRC rooms and on interviews with the community! If you still lurk there, name is /u/ProfessorKaos64

  • mlinksva

    Peter believes that competition is in our DNA. I believe that collaboration and community is in our DNA. As you can imagine, these concepts are complimentary to each other and this is why I feel like this such a natural fit for me.

    Complementary. :)

    It’d be nice to see some of this complementarity realized, with prizes used instead of exclusivity (as occasionally proposed, especially for pharma), prizes that mandate non-exclusivity (in terms of copyright and patent) for would-be winners.

    Congratulations and good luck, can’t wait to see what you do at XPRIZE!

  • Joe

    Thank you for all of your work. Good luck with XPRIZE. It looks fun!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all your great work at Canonical. You were a great community manager, your enthusiasm and passion for Ubuntu and its community will be missed. Good luck with whatever you’re going to do in the future!

  • Andres Mujica

    Congratulations and thanks for all the support and guidance you gave to LoCo teams all around the world.

  • Anonymous

    I´m very happy to hear that. That sounds like an awesome job. Good luck !

  • Robert Streeter

    Wish you the best my friend…

  • Jef Spaleta

    good luck! I look forward to seeing you put together a bbq xprize initiative.

  • Mark Krynsky

    Great to learn about your endeavors with the Ubuntu community. Looking forward to working with you at XPRIZE.

  • Lucas Romero Di Benedetto

    Maybe today you open a new chapter. But maybe in the future you need to reread a previous chapter. Like me, thousands of users you expect again. Success with this new opportunity Jono! We had a great Community Manager.

  • Joaquim Rocha

    My best wishes for the transition Jono! Thank you for everything!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for all the personal interaction you invested in the community, Jono. I wish you much success in the future!

  • Anonymous

    Jono I love you and I’ll never forget you, you are an amazing person and…DON’T GO AWAY, PLEAAAASEEE.. noo, really. It’s an amazing opportunity and I wish you best of luck :) hope I’ll say you “thanks” some day. Thanks for all :)

  • John Wesley Pruitt

    Hey, its been a while since I saw you at the last Lug Radio Live. Jono thanks so much for your passion and love.

  • John Mahoney

    best of luck to you in your new endevaours

  • Anonymous

    wow, quite amazing you might get a closer contact with people like Diamandis, Douglas Mallette, Federico Pistono, Jacque Fresco and so on! how exciting! i wish you all the success on the most exciting experiences you might have there! :)

  • Merlijn Sebrechts

    Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!

  • Ahmed Kamal

    All the best of luck Jono .. I really enjoyed working with you, cheers

  • Anonymous

    Congrats John and thank you for your contribution. Good luck on your new endeavors

  • Myco Sys

    You lucky bastard, about the only way i could be more jelly is if you were heading for a long term space mission. Dont forget to be thankful for the luck that has brought you were you are, the luck of your birth country, your genes, the people you met, the luck of a functional body that lets you do these things, good brain, and please try to instill that in people in the amazing opportunity you have been given. I am not at all discounting your hard work, just noting how many things mean most humans could ever have the chance. I think if our society remembered this a bit more then the hateful policies of the poor hating right, the people who somehow believe that anyone can be rich and successful and that if you are poor it is your own fault pervade our society, and it would be impossible in a society that acknowledged the luck of life’s lottery, rather than some kind of twisted superiority through birthright, You have a unique opportunity to show this wto the world. Congratulations on the amazing job,and on what you have made of that luck, It is of course an amazing achievement. You will be sorely missed by all of the ubuntu community and all its millions of users.Thank you for all the support you have given freedom worldwide. Thank You for the empowerment you have given people. And thank you for continuing in this calling. I wish my body was still letting me follow it too. Thank you again I know you will amaze us.

  • Billy Quinn

    Jono; Great !

    Keep up the Good Work that you do.

    You were instrumental in my move to ubuntu: The official ubuntu Book. For those not in the know, copyright, 2007 Version 6.06.

    And have been a mentor of mine since.

    I look to this “move” as yet another avenue to extol those things that you have so greatly exposed the rest of us to. I bet your head is big enough for two hats.

    just keep on keep’n on

    aka Bashing-om

  • Roland Taylor

    Ubuntu is a cult. You cannot leave.

    We will be coming for you!

    Jk. Wishing you well in your endeavors.

  • Hey the truth..

    .. is he can finally run elementary OS without feeling conflicted. :)

    No seriously good luck, jono. all the best.

  • nshiell

    Good luck with the new start mate, thanks for your online QA sessions

  • spiroseliot

    Thx for everything. ????????????!

  • Adam Weinrich

    Sounds Brilliant. Hope you bring them as much as you did Ubuntu. All the best!

  • aking1012

    You’re leaving for a really noble cause. We’re all sad to see you go but glad it’s for something that is great for humanity.

  • Anonymous

    You’ll be missed.

  • Jo-Erlend Schinstad

    He’s leaving Canonical, not Ubuntu. :)

  • Roland Taylor

    I know that :)

    Did I play the idiot’s part that well?

  • visoos

    Thank you Jono, you’re one of my free software heroes. And you made us be a little piece of the ubuntu ‘cooking’ team.

    GNU/Linux for human beings..

  • Evan Summers

    Thanks for everything, Jono. It’s sad news for us Ubuntu fans. You did a great job and i’ll miss your youtube Q&As especially going into this exciting era of Ubuntu convergence apps. Bad Voltage is awesome, and we still got that :)

  • Anonymous

    Best luck to you! XPRIZE is a solid fit and is lucky to have you!

  • z Simmons

    Reason is, because he knows Ubuntu is an unleavable cult, so he won’t even try… 😉

  • Jack Yu

    Thanks, good luck, Man!

  • James Falkner

    Hey Jono – congrats on the move! You’ve been an inspiration for a lot of what I do, thank you for being so open about open source community management and giving those of us wandering around in the dark a light to shine. Looking forward to seeing what goes down (err.. up?) at XPRIZE with you on board :)

  • Marco

    Funny how you keep mixing Free software/Open source community with the sectarian ubuntu community. The two have never been more different then now. Ubuntu’s contribution to open source (which doesn’t only run on ubuntu products) is close to zero these days.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the support Jono, you’ve always had our backs at Canonical.

    Now go make the world suck less at XPrize! DFTBA :-)