by Scott Berinato

Red Hat Founder Wants to Make IT Events a Circus

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Bob Young, known across the Linux community as the affable man who founded Red Hat Software in 1993 and turned Linux into a serious corporate option, has left his company (for more on Red Hat, see story on Chairman Matthew Szulik, Page 78). For Young’s next act, he plans to make IT a hobby. He’s using professional fishing as his model, and he’s calling the venture Lulu Enterprises.

Young left Red Hat last year because the company got too big for him to manage. “Process management isn’t a skill set of mine,” says Young. “The fact is, it bores me to tears.”

Young’s new venture was inspired by his own love of bass fishing in his native Canada (he lost the family tournament this year) and his admiration for the Bassmasters fishing organization. “Here’s a group that has 600,000 members, entirely built on enthusiasm for the sport, so much so that they can sponsor a bass fishing tour. There are people who make their living fishing for bass.”

Young sees the same enthusiast element in technology but no similar outlet for the enthusiasts. Enter Lulu Enterprises, based in Raleigh, N.C., which will set up events called Tech Circus, billed as an alternative to the typical trade show. Instead of expos for vendors and products, this circus will be driven by, Young says, enthusiasm, knowledge transfer and a decidedly noncommercial tilt. The circus will have (you guessed it) rings. An extreme programming ring, say. A Linux ring. A robotics ring. You can pay a little and wander, or pay more and take in specific seminars.

As for the name, Young’s story is that his three daughters call him Papa Lu and he calls them the Lulus. Then he looked up Lulu in the dictionary, and it means “a remarkable person, object or idea.”

Young is setting up Tech Circuses on the East Coast, the first slated for Sept. 27-29 on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The second will be in Boston in December.

“It could be a spectacular failure,” Young says gleefully. But don’t bet against him. This is the same guy who donned a bright red felt fedora and ended up legitimizing Linux in the enterprise.