Canonical's most recent AllHands meeting finished last night (this morning, really... I can't believe I got up at 7:30am), and I'm somewhat at a loss for words. In a good way.
But I'll try anyway :-)
As someone who was highly skeptical of the validity of Canonical's business model prior to working here, I can say that not only do I not doubt our ability to be a hugely successful company, but I am deeply committed to that success. Before AllHands, Canonical had earned my respect and loyalty through the consistent support and care of its employees. After AllHands, I have a much greater practical, hands-on understanding of Canonical's strategies and the various projects involved in creating a reality of success.
What's more, though, is the completeness of my belief in the people and the vision. This is thanks to the massive exposure we've had during AllHands to the collective vision; the team projects; all the individuals with amazing histories, skills, unbelievable talent and ability to deliver; and most of all, the dedication that each employee of Canonical has to truly making the world a better place for anyone who depends upon technology.
Ubuntu is free, and that's great. But Canonical needs to be a huge commercial success if its free OS distribution is going to have the power to transform the market and thus people's lives. This AllHands has given me a complete picture of how that will happen: we're all working on a different part of this puzzle, and we're all making it happen.
Success in the marketplace is crucial. Not because of greed or the lust for power, but because we live in a world where value is exchanged. As part of that ecosystem, we want to bring the greatest value to the people. This is not "selling out"; it's selling. This does not give away a user's freedom; it helps guarantee its continued safety in a competitive, capitalist society.
If we want anyone to embrace Ubuntu instead of a non-free OS -- without asking our users to sacrifice anything -- we're going to need to make very serious changes in design, usability, integration, and stability. To do this in a clean, unified manner really only comes with a significant investment of time, direction, and capital. Due to the seriousness of Canonical's altruistic vision, as we generate this capital, we're making the dream come true for the world.
At AllHands, I've seen designs that will seriously challenge Apple. I've seen a usability team's plans for true computing goodness. I've seen revenue models that have made my jaw drop. I've seen glimpses of the bright future.
And baby, it's exciting as hell.