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Red Hat veteran will head up SUSE from May as Di Donato steps down

In the meantime, the CFO is also interim CEO

Out with the SAPper, in with a Hatter: Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen will take over at SUSE May 1st. Chief financial officer Andy Myers is interim CEO until the end of April.

New boss van Leeuwen is an ex-Red Hatter. He joined the then-independent biz in 2004 and ended up as senior Vice President and General Manager of North America, weathering the IBM acquisition that created Big Purple four years ago. Perhaps getting his own interview in CEO Magazine gave him a taste for the job title.

When he takes over as head chameleon-wrangler at the beginning of April, he will replace the outgoing – in both senses of the word – Melissa di Donato, a former SAP executive who took over in 2019.

Di Donato led SUSE for some four years after replacing Nils Brauckmann, who oversaw SUSE breaking away from parent company MicroFocus in 2018. Her stay was notable for two significant moves: the 2020 acquisition of Rancher Labs, and an successful, if less than stellar IPO on the Frankfurt stock exchange. SUSE also acquired container security startup NeuVector and open sourced it, releasing version 5.0 last year, although that was a rather smaller deal.

Dutchman van Leeuwen seems to be a long-term Unix type. From 1996 to 2000, he ran sales in Benelux and the Nordic countries for the Santa Cruz Operation. Don't get scared – that was the good SCO. Van Leeuwen left in September 2000, just a month after Caldera acquired the company. This was a couple of years before Caldera changed its name to SCO and began its legendary sue-stravaganza in a long run of Unix-linked disputes.

He then moved to Berkeley Software Design Inc, better known as BSDI, soon after its merger with Walnut Creek, where he headed sales in central Europe, a region he'd be looking after again for Red Hat a few years later. The merger and attempted IPO didn't work out, and soon afterwards BSDI jettisoned its server business as iXsystems, now probably better known for its TrueNAS product range.

Van Leeuwen left BSDI soon afterwards. So, he seems to have some experience of bailing out of Unixy businesses before they hit stormy waters. It's almost enough to make us worry about the Big Purple Hat.

In the gap between Di Donato's departure and Van Leeuwen picking up the reins, the current chief financial officer, Andrew Myers, will be the interim CEO. ®

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