GNOME Foundation hiring Stormy Peters

I’m excited to announce that, after a long search, the GNOME board has decided to hire Stormy Peters as executive director. Formal language press release, for those of you interested in such things, is here. If you want to discuss the Stormy hire (or just say ‘welcome’ :), take it to foundation-list. And she’s of course on planet.

The rest of this post is my informal, personal opinion, and should be taken as such. :)

I first met Stormy at the GUADEC Dublin (Norway?) Advisory Board meeting. I was impressed then that she was someone who had very sharp questions and really seemed to be paying attention to what was going on, both in GNOME and in the broader industry, and seemed to be really trying to come to grips with the interaction between the two. Several years on, in talking with her through the hiring process, I continue to be impressed- she’s still got a great understanding of what we do and where GNOME is (and could be) going, a deep understanding of the software industry, lots of energy, and an ability to communicate. This combination was something that was really difficult to find, so when it became clear that Stormy was available, we jumped all over it.

This is obviously a big commitment for GNOME. It has been a while since we’ve had a full-time employee, and we’ve clearly been doing pretty OK without one- we continue to have good relationships with our advisory board, we still have a strong community, and we continue to develop very strong, relevant software. So there is an obvious question of ‘why now?’ My answer is that this a time of opportunity for GNOME- we have a ton of opportunities in the mobile space; we’re starting to see Linux desktop uptake at places like Dell and Asus; and we serve an important role as a critical infrastructure provider for exciting, dynamic projects like Mozilla and OLPC. But in each of these areas (and others) we are far from the clear leader- we face lots of challenges, on many levels. I feel (and I think the board agrees, but remember that this is my personal post) that we need to have someone in place to aggressively pursue these opportunities, and turn them from opportunities into solid, stable, ongoing relationships. Of course, we can’t neglect our existing relationships with the usual suspects- as they seek to navigate a mobile and web-integrated world, we need to work with them to make sure that we are responsive to their needs as well.

Stormy obviously is not a solution in and of herself- she will need community and organizational support. But I think she’ll be in great shape to really help GNOME take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us.