Mark Shuttleworth

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Mark Shuttleworth
Shuttleworth in Dublin, 2011
BornMark Richard Shuttleworth
(1973-09-18) 18 September 1973
Welkom, Orange Free State, South Africa
NationalitySouth African and British
Space career
Space Adventures Tourist
Time in space9d 21h 25m
MissionsSoyuz TM-34/TM-33
Mission insignia

Mark Richard Shuttleworth (born 18 September 1973) is a South African and British entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Canonical, the company behind the development of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. In 2002, Shuttleworth became the first South African to travel to space, doing so as a space tourist. He lives on the Isle of Man and holds dual citizenship from South Africa and the United Kingdom. According to the Sunday Times Rich List in 2020, Shuttleworth is worth an estimated £500 million.

Early life

Shuttleworth was born in Welkom, Free State, South Africa, to a surgeon and a nursery-school teacher, Shuttleworth attended school at Western Province Preparatory School (where he eventually became Head Boy in 1986), followed by one term at Rondebosch Boys' High School, and then Bishops/Diocesan College where he was Head Boy in 1991. Shuttleworth obtained a Bachelor of Business Science degree in Finance and Information Systems at the University of Cape Town. As a student, he became involved in the installation of the first residential Internet connections at the university.


In 1995, Shuttleworth founded Thawte Consulting, a company which specialized in digital certificates and Internet security. In December 1999, Shuttleworth sold Thawte to VeriSign, earning Shuttleworth R3.5 billion (US$575 million, equivalent to $989 million in 2023).

In September 2000, Shuttleworth formed HBD Venture Capital (Here be Dragons), a business incubator and venture capital provider now managed by Knife Capital. In March 2004 he formed Canonical Ltd., for the promotion and commercial support of free software projects, especially the Ubuntu operating system. In December 2009, Shuttleworth stepped down as the CEO of Canonical Ltd, with Jane Silber taking over the position. Shuttleworth returned to the position of CEO of Canonical in July 2017 at the end of Silber's tenure.

Linux and FOSS

Shuttleworth speaking in 2009

In the 1990s, Shuttleworth participated as one of the developers of the Debian operating system.

In 2001, he formed the Shuttleworth Foundation, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to social innovation which also funds educational, free, and open source software projects in South Africa, such as the Freedom Toaster.

In 2004, he returned to the free-software world by funding the development of Ubuntu, a Linux distribution based on Debian, through his company, Canonical Ltd.

In 2005, he founded the Ubuntu Foundation and made an initial investment of 10 million dollars. In the Ubuntu project, Shuttleworth is often referred to with the tongue-in-cheek title "Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life" (SABDFL). To come up with a list of names of people to hire for the project, Shuttleworth took six months of Debian mailing list archives with him while travelling to Antarctica aboard the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in early 2004. In September 2005, he purchased a 65% stake of Impi Linux.

On 15 October 2006, it was announced that Mark Shuttleworth had become the first patron of KDE, the highest level of sponsorship available. This relationship ended in 2012, together with financial support for Kubuntu, the Ubuntu variant with KDE as main desktop.

On 17 December 2009, Shuttleworth announced that, effective March 2010, he would step down as CEO of Canonical to focus energy on product design, partnership, and customers. Jane Silber, COO at Canonical since 2004, took on the job of CEO at Canonical.

In September 2010, he received an honorary degree from the Open University for this work.

On 9 November 2012, Shuttleworth and Kenneth Rogoff took part in a debate opposite Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel at the Oxford Union, entitled "The Innovation Enigma".

On 25 October 2013, Shuttleworth and Ubuntu were awarded the Austrian anti-privacy Big Brother Award for sending local Ubuntu Unity Dash searches to Canonical servers by default. A year earlier, in 2012, Shuttleworth had defended the anonymisation method used. He later reversed the decision, and no current Ubuntu version does this.


Shuttleworth on board the International Space Station

Shuttleworth gained worldwide fame on 25 April 2002, as the second self-funded space tourist (after Dennis Tito in 2001) and the first South African in space. Flying through Space Adventures, he launched aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission as a spaceflight participant, paying approximately US$20 million for the voyage (equivalent to $32.39 million in 2023). Two days later, the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station, where he spent eight days participating in experiments related to AIDS and genome research. On 5 May 2002, he returned to Earth on Soyuz TM-33. In order to participate in the flight, Shuttleworth had to undergo one year of training and preparation, including seven months spent in Star City, Russia.

When he was in space, he spoke to Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, on video link as part of the Freedom Day celebrations to mark the end of apartheid.

He also had a radio conversation with Nelson Mandela and a 14-year-old South African girl, Michelle Foster, who asked him to marry her. He politely dodged the question, stating that he was "very honoured at the question" before changing the subject. The terminally ill Foster was provided the opportunity to have a conversation with Mark Shuttleworth and Nelson Mandela by the Reach for a Dream foundation.


He has a private jet, a Bombardier Global Express, which is often referred to as Canonical One but is in fact owned through his HBD Venture Capital company. The dragon depicted on the side of the plane is Norman, the HBD Venture Capital mascot.

Upon moving R2.5 billion in capital from South Africa to the Isle of Man, the South African Reserve Bank imposed a R250 million levy in order to release his assets. Shuttleworth won a case in the Supreme Court of Appeal to have the levy monies returned. However, on 18 June 2015 the Constitutional Court of South Africa reversed and set aside the findings of the lower courts, ruling that the dominant purpose of an exit charge was to regulate conduct rather than to raise revenue. The court held "...that the exit charge was not inconsistent with the Constitution. The dominant purpose of the exit charge was not to raise revenue but rather to regulate conduct by discouraging the export of capital to protect the domestic economy."


  1. ^ Shuttleworth is the first citizen of an independent African country to go into space. Patrick Baudry, an earlier astronaut, was also born in Africa; however, since Baudry's native Cameroon was a French colony at the time of his birth, he is considered a French citizen. Shuttleworth also had British citizenship at the time of his flight.


  1. ^ "Canonical". Canonical Ltd. Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Nasa makes space tourism U-turn". BBC News Online. 12 December 2001. Retrieved 2 September 2012. approval to plans to make the South African internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth
  3. ^ "Space tourist lifts off". BBC News Online. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 2 September 2012. South African internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth is heading for a short stay
  4. ^ "International Space Station: Soyuz 3 Taxi Flight Crew: Mark Richard Shuttleworth". 4 April 2004. Archived from the original on 4 February 2002. Retrieved 2 September 2012. Mark was born on 18 September 1973 in mining town Welkom, in South Africa's Free State province
  5. ^ Leake, Jonathan; Swinford, Steven (19 July 2009). "It's blast-off Britain as ban on space flight ends". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur with dual British nationality, took a different route, paying £12m for Russia ...
  6. ^ "Mark Shuttleworth – Contact Details". Mark Shuttleworth. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  7. ^ Times, The Sunday. "Rich List 2020: Profiles 201‑300=". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  8. ^ Vance, Ashlee (10 January 2009). "A Software Populist Who Doesn't Do Windows". New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2009. charismatic 35-year-old billionaire from South Africa ... son of a surgeon and a kindergarten teacher
  9. ^ Western Province Preparatory School (18 February 2011). "WPPS embraces every aspect of today's educational requirements" (A Commercial Feature). Cape Times. p. 12. Retrieved 29 September 2012. and 1986 head boy Mark Shuttleworth, who, as the first South African in space, flew with the Soyuz mission to the International Space Station
  10. ^ "Interesting Facts". Invitation to Bishops. Bishops Diocesan College. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2012. Mark Shuttleworth was Head boy in 1991 and was the first Afronaut in Space on 2 April 2002
  11. ^ "Quick facts about UCT". Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  12. ^ "VeriSign Buys South Africa's Thawte for $575 Million". 23 December 1999. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
  13. ^ "An Exec Who Invests Mark Shuttleworth's Money Keeps Every Rejection Letter He Has Ever Received – Here's Why". BusinessInsider.
  14. ^ Shuttleworth, Mark (17 December 2009). "My New Focus at Canonical". Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  15. ^ Jane Silber (12 April 2017). "A new vantage point". Ubuntu Insights. Canonical Ltd. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Developers LDAP Search". The Debian Project. Retrieved 20 April 2010. User Mark Shuttleworth (login "marks", PGP/GPG key id 0xD54F0847)
  17. ^ a b Khamlichi, M. el. "Mark Shuttleworth - The Man Behind Ubuntu Operating System". Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Ubuntu carves niche in Linux landscape". CNET. Archived from the original on 6 November 2015.
  19. ^ Linux Format, Jeff Waugh (LXF 87). Archived 16 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Shuttleworth bets on ImpiLinux". MyADSL. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2006.
  21. ^ "Mark Shuttleworth Becomes the First Patron of KDE". KDE. 15 October 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2006.
  22. ^ "Mark Shuttleworth steps down as CEO of Canonical". Mark Shuttleworth. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  23. ^ "Honorary Awards 2010" (PDF). Conferment of Honorary Degrees and Presentation of Graduates. The Open University. 25 February 2010. pp. 8, 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010. Mr Mark Shuttleworth, DUniv, Versailles, 11 September
  24. ^ "Innovation or stagnation – a great debate". The Oxford Martin School Blog. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  25. ^ "BBA 2013 – quintessenz – Big Brother Awards 2013 – Yes We Scan!". Marketing (Press release) (in German). Big Brother Awards. Retrieved 10 November 2013. Körberlgeld mit lokaler Suche: Marc Shuttleworth, Ubuntu
  26. ^ Sneddon, Joey-Elijah (28 October 2013). "Ubuntu's Amazon Shopping Feature Wins Anti-Privacy Award". OMG!Ubuntu. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  27. ^ "Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth wins Austria's Big Brother Award". Muktware. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  28. ^ Lee, Micah. "Fix Ubuntu". Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  29. ^ "Amazon search results in the Dash". Mark Shuttleworth Blog Archive. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  30. ^ "Soyuz ISS Missions" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2011.
  31. ^ a b, Nelson Mandela Chats with Shuttleworth, 2 May 2002. Archived 6 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Mark Shuttleworth". Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  33. ^ "A leap forward, Mbeki tells Mark". News24. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  34. ^ BBC News, "Afronaut mourns his 'bride'", 28 May 2002.
  35. ^ Dispatch online, Mark's biggest fan dies of cancer, 28 May 2002. Archived 29 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "UbuntuWeeklyNewsletter/Issue16 - Ubuntu Wiki".
  37. ^ Ask Slashdot: Mark Shuttleworth "Canonical One doesn't *actually* belong to Canonical"
  38. ^ Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express
  39. ^ "12 Things You Didn't Know About South African Millionaire Mark Shuttleworth". AFKInsider. 25 August 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Mark Shuttleworth wants his R250 million back from SARB". htxt Africa. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  41. ^ Mogoeng, CJ; DCJ Moseneke, DCJ; Cameron, J; Froneman, J; Jappie, AJ; Khampepe, J; Molemela, AJ; Nkabinde, J; Theron, AJ; Tshiqi, AJ (18 June 2015). "South African Reserve Bank and Another v Shuttleworth and Another". Constitutional Court of South Africa.
  42. ^ "South African Reserve Bank and Another v Shuttleworth and Another (CCT194/14, CCT199/14) ZACC 17; 2015 (5) SA 146 (CC); 2015 (8) BCLR 959 (CC) (18 June 2015)". Retrieved 11 November 2020.
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