Red Hat is setting its cap at Europe with two new offices in the UK and Germany in the week it announced its intention to make a public share offering.
The company, which sells Linux related software, service and support, will become the first purveyor of the free operating system to float on the US public stock market.
It plans to to sell six million shares for $10 to $12 a share, giving the company an overall valuation of $800 million, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Colin Tenwick, new vice president of Red Hat Europe and former vice president of Sybase Europe, said: "By the end of our financial year in February, we will have about 60 people based at our UK office in Guildford and we want to be in France."
Some parts of the Linux community have voiced concerns over Red Hat's commercial thrust, nicknaming the company Red Hat Microsoft.
Tenwick reassured these Linux users: "Our number one priority is commitment to open source. Users will choose Red Hat on the merits of its services, not because they are locked in by proprietariness."
Kirsten Ludvigsen, IDC analyst, said: "The most adamant are pooh-poohing the flotation but they are too fearful."
"If you have to support an open environment 24 by seven by 365, then you must make money. This will mean further investment to enhance the utilities around the core kernel of Linux and more skilled people for support and education," she said.
Ludvigsen believes, however, that the days when Linux vendors did not dirty their hands competing with each other are over.
"The vendors used to have a gentleman's agreement where they shared territories geographically. Red Hat in the US, Suse in Germany and Caldera in Latin America. This is changing. Suse will compete with Red Hat for the European market but it will be good for users as they have more Linux services to choose from," she said.
A number of system vendors in Europe have made commitments to supporting Linux but have yet to deliver on their promises, leaving the market open for established Linux players, such as Red Hat, to take advantage. (see Newswire 15 July)
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