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Linspire executives exodus?

According to multiple sources close to Linux distributor Linspire, former CEO Kevin Carmony was not the only executive to leave Linspire at the end of July. Sources say that Chad Olson, the company’s CFO, and other high-ranking officials including the comptroller and the head of the Linux engineering team had also left by July 31.

We have made numerous attempts in the last week to get either a formal confirmation or a denial of these rumored executive changes from Linspire and its founder and primary owner, Michael Robertson, without success. The new Linspire CEO and president, Larry Kettler, had no comment on these rumors except to say that Linspire is focusing on its recent release of Freespire 2.0 and the imminent release of Linspire’s multi-Linux distribution software update and management system, CNR.com.

Kettler has been with Linspire since 2001 and served as vice president of worldwide sales and marketing before his promotion. It is not known, who, if anyone, has been moved into the other positions.

Carmony told Linux-Watch in a recent interview that he was leaving Linspire to pursue other business interests and to work on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. As for the other executives, all we have to report are rumors.

These stories have included that there was resentment over a promised bonus to the executive team not being paid out to cost-cuttings to Linspire refocusing its efforts from its Linux distributions–Freespire and Linspire–to working primarily on its CNR offering. Linux-Watch can claim nothing about these rumors’ reliability, save that they all came from people either close to Linspire or Linspire’s partners.

Linspire is a privately owned company so it is not required to report on management changes in the same way that a publicly held company would be. Linspire announced in 2004 that it was going public with an IPO (initial public offering). Linspire backed off its IPO plans, though, because of adverse market conditions. Linspire still plans to issue an IPO some day.

While an IPO in the near future would seem a remote possibility given the current roller-coaster market, sources also say that Linspire has recently shown its first profitable quarter since the company’s founding. In that event, Linspire would need to be more forthcoming about management changes.

In the last 12 months, Linspire has made moves that brought it both praise (such as its decision to base future versions of its Linuxes on Ubuntu and opening up of CNR to other distributions) and condemnation (its patent partnership with Microsoft) from the Linux user community. If these rumors of executive changes are true, it is certain there will be even more questions about exactly what direction Linspire will be taking next.

A version of this story first appeared in Linux-Watch.

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