Since its inception in 2004, Ubuntu has been the beneficiary in what seems like a bottomless money pit for South African entrepreneur, Mark Shuttleworth via his commercial support and development venture, Canonical. Since Canonical, Ltd. isn't an American publicly-owned company (and I don't know South African law), it's unlikely that a full disclosure of profits and losses is forthcoming. I have read that the investment made so far is approximately $20 million US.
How long can anyone keep pumping money into a project that might not ever turn a profit?
Red Hat is the world's most successful Linux-oriented company and has turned its open source business into a very profitable one with licensing, professional services and support, training and certification and other products like JBOSS.
Although if you think about it, Shuttleworth might have the money to burn for a while since he blew $20 million US to go into space and to the International Space Station in 2002. Apparently he doesn't look for a return on investment for everything he does.
No one knows for sure, except Shuttleworth and his accountant, whether there's any hope that Ubuntu and Canonical will ever be self-sufficient entities. My guess is that it will take a few more years with the current economic downturn to realize any profits from either venture and I'm not sure whether Ubuntu will ever make money or is even expected to.
I'm willing to speak with someone from Canonical or Ubuntu but so far have had no luck in making a connection with anyone for an interview via phone, email or The Frugal Tech Show.
What do you think?
Will the Ubuntu project eventually lose its bankroll or will Shuttleworth maintain the piggy bank for it?
Is Canonical profitable?
Write back and let me know what you think.