Elementary Founder Exits the Company

Posted on April 4, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Linux with 10 Comments

Elementary founder Cassidy James Blaede revealed that he’s left the company, opening questions about the future of its Linux distribution. It appears that he was basically forced out of Elementary by co-owner Dani Foré.

“Over the last decade, I’ve worked to help build elementary into what it is today: a world-class operating system lead by a team who is involved in and oftentimes driving the direction of the greater open source desktop space,” Blaede writes in his goodbye post. “In 2011 I founded elementary, LLC. so we could have a legal entity under which to do business, sign agreements, etc. I owned and ran the company for seven years, bearing the entirety of the legal responsibility and handling much of the administration and logistics.”

What happened since then is two-fold. On the business front, Blaede hired Foré full-time in 2015, and then they together restructured the firm so that the two of them were co-owners. And on the Linux side, elementary OS saw continued growth with the release of each new version. Until, that is, the pandemic hit and everything fell apart.

“[elementary] OS 6 and 6.1 performed far worse than expected, likely in part due to the ongoing global pandemic,” he wrote. “People were seemingly less likely to pay an optional amount to download an operating system when they could just get it for free. It became clear we needed to re-prioritize our company finances while staying firm in our open-source, privacy-centric, and ethical funding beliefs … In January [2022], we enacted some adjustments including cutting salaries and completely eliminating healthcare for employees and family members. I was reluctant to agree to these cuts, but agreed since it seemed like the only immediate solution, as increasing revenue would take longer. We also agreed to revisit the situation quarterly—likely with additional salary cuts—with the next time set for April.”

To help make ends meet, Blaede did something that he and Foré had discussed multiple times over the previous two years: he took on a full-time job, cut back his hours at Elementary, and eliminated his salary to free it up for other initiatives. And so Foré asked Blaede to resign and “completely step away from elementary.” This wasn’t what he wanted, but Foré “was adamant.”

“In the end, I have decided that the best course of action is indeed for me to move on … and I have accepted an offer for Dani to be the sole, 100 percent owner of elementary, Inc.,” he writes. “I’ve signed my resignation and as of today, she now owns the entirety of the company shares and responsibility. I wish her the best in continuing its legacy. In line with Dani’s wishes, I will no longer be involved in any way at elementary.”

Blaede says he will focus his free-time efforts on contributing to and growing usage for GNOME, a Linux desktop environment, the Flatpak package manager, and the Flathub app store. But one has to wonder how the underlying financial issues and Blaede’s subsequent leaving will impact Elementary and its users. To date, Elementary has not commented on this or on the future of the company and its Linux distribution.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Elementary Founder Exits the Company”

  1. jimchamplin

    Whenever a founder gets pushed out, especially for business reasons in a non profit organization I always fear that the non part of non-profit will soon disappear.

  2. jdawgnoonan

    Well, that sucks. Elementary is a good Linux distribution.

  3. hrlngrv

    I don't understand the fascination with elementary. It's certainly different by using Pantheon as desktop environment, but I've never seen the appeal compared to Budgie if one wants a dock.

    If the goal is a full consideration of Linux, why no articles on Red Hat, Canonical, SuSE or Debian? Too well run, so too boring for reporting?

    • eric_rasmussen

      I agree, I personally run Ubuntu Budgie as my preferred Linux desktop OS.

      However, I have a special place in my heart for Elementary. They write everything in Vala, a programming language for Gnome that closely mimics C#. I'd prefer a Linux distro that actually uses Flutter or C# instead of Vala, but I'll take Vala over C++ any day. For me, this choice of language and their commitment to the user experience made Elementary unique.

    • Paul Thurrott

      The focus is on Linux versions that make it easier for Windows and Mac users to switch. But I don't ignore those organizations per se. I've just not come across anything interesting or relevant.
      • hrlngrv

        Given the panel-plus-dock layout of the Pantheon desktop environment used in elementary OS, it'd seem to offer an easier path to Linux for Mac users. Are there lots of Macs which dual boot macOS and Linux? Comparable (as %) to PCs dual booting Windows and Linux?

        FWIW, https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/install-linux-macbook-pro/ seems to indicate it's rather more involved to dual boot Linux on Macs than on PCs, requiring 3rd party boot loaders because Boot Camp doesn't cut it.

        Does elementary OS make Linux transition easier for Windows users? Not compared to distributions using Cinnamon, MATE, Budgie, or Gnome à la Zorin (in contrast to the far more common Gnome 3 layout) as default desktop environments. I figure Linux Mint Cinnamon or MATE and Ubuntu/Xubuntu are each used on an order of magnitude more PCs than elementary OS.

  4. hrlngrv

    How many others use Vala? All things considered, if distributions using Vala for system programming (desktop environment) numbered orders of magnitude fewer than those using C++, I'd tend to prefer FOSS written in C++.

    The kernel and most modules are written in C, no? Firefox and LibreOffice mostly in C++. GNU R in a mix of C, C++ and FORTRAN. The markdown editor I use is mostly Python, which itself is written in C. Since damn few distributions are lead maintainers for even 10% of the software they include in their distributions, few distributions, and I suspect not even elementary, escape most of their underlying source code being based on C or C++. Is there any widely used Linux software written in C#?