Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Richard Shuttleworth (born 18 September 1973) is a South African entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of , the company behind the development of the Linux-based . In 2002, he became the first citizen of an independent African country to travel to space as a . and holds from and the .


Early life

Born in in South Africa’s to a surgeon and a nursery-school teacher, Shuttleworth attended school at followed by one term at , and then at Bishops/,

Shuttleworth obtained a degree in Finance and at the , where he lived in . As a student, he became involved in the installation of the first residential Internet connections at the university.


Shuttleworth founded in 1995, a currently running company which specialized in and . In December 1999, Thawte was acquired by , earning Shuttleworth 3.5 billion (about  million).

In September 2000, Shuttleworth formed (Here be Dragons), a and provider. In March 2004 he formed , for the promotion and commercial support of projects, especially the operating system. In December 2009, Shuttleworth stepped down as the CEO of Canonical Ltd, took Canonical CEO position. Shuttleworth resumed the position of CEO of Canonical in July 2017 at the end of Silber’s tenure.

Linux and FOSS

In the 1990s, Shuttleworth participated as one of the developers of the .

In 2001, he formed the , a nonprofit organisation dedicated to social innovation which also funds educational, , and projects in South Africa, such as the .

In 2004, he returned to the world by funding the development of , a based on Debian, through his company

In 2005, he founded the Ubuntu Foundation and made an initial investment of 10 million dollars. In the Ubuntu project, Shuttleworth is often referred to with the title “Self-Appointed ” (SABDFL). To come up with a list of names of people to hire for the project, Shuttleworth took six months of Debian archives with him while travelling to aboard the in early 2004. In September 2005, he purchased a 65% stake of .

On 15 October 2006, it was announced that Mark Shuttleworth became the first patron of , the highest level of available. This patronship ended in 2012, together with financial support for , the Ubuntu variant with as main desktop.

On 17 December 2009, Mark announced that, effective March 2010, he would step down as CEO of Canonical to focus energy on product design, partnership, and customers. , COO at Canonical since 2004, took on the job of CEO at Canonical.

In September 2010, he received an honorary degree from the for this work.

On 9 November 2012. Shuttleworth and took part in a opposite and Peter Thiel at the , entitled “The Innovation Enigma”.

On 25 October 2013, Shuttleworth and Ubuntu were awarded the Austrian anti-privacy for sending local Ubuntu searches to Canonical servers by default. A year earlier in 2012 Shuttleworth had defended the anonymisation method used.


Shuttleworth gained worldwide fame on 25 April 2002, as the second self-funded and the first-ever South African in space. Flying through , he launched aboard the Russian mission as a , paying approximately for the voyage. Two days later, the arrived at the , where he spent eight days participating in experiments related to and research. On 5 May 2002, he returned to Earth on . In order to participate in the flight, Shuttleworth had to undergo one year of training and preparation, including seven months spent in , Russia.

While in space he had a radio conversation with and a 14-year-old South African girl, Michelle Foster, who asked him to marry her. He politely dodged the question, stating that he was “very honoured at the question” before changing the subject. The terminally ill Foster was provided the opportunity to have a conversation with Mark Shuttleworth and Nelson Mandela by the foundation.


He has a private jet, a , which is often referred to as Canonical One but is in fact owned through his HBD Venture Capital company. The dragon depicted on the side of the plane is Norman, the HBD Venture Capital mascot.

Legal clash with the South African Reserve Bank

Upon moving R2.5 billion in capital from South Africa to the , the imposed a R250 million levy in order to release his assets. Shuttleworth appealed, and after a lengthy legal battle, the Reserve Bank was ordered to repay the R250 million, plus interest. Shuttleworth announced that he would be donating the entire amount to a trust which will be established to help others take cases to the Constitutional Court. On 18 June 2015 the reversed and set aside the findings of the lower courts, ruling that the dominant purpose of exit charge was to regulate conduct rather than to raise revenue.


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