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High Five: Meet Bob Young, CEO Of Lulu

In the early days of Red Hat, now the most prominent marketer of the Linux open source operating system, co-founder Bob Young came up with an answer to the question everyone asked about a business that gave away its software. "It's not my goal to make my company as big as Microsoft," he said. "It's my goal to make Microsoft as big as my company." Young left Red Hat in 2002 and that same year co-founded Lulu, an online marketplace for authors, musicians, and filmmakers to offer their creative wares.

Charles Babcock

March 30, 2007

2 Min Read

Bob Young
CEO of Lulu
Interview by Charles Babcock

Bob Young, CEO of Lulu

Photograph by Milton Morris


Red Hat began when Marc Ewing, the originator of Red Hat Linux, merged his company with Young's ACC Corp., a Linux and Unix catalog business in New York, in 1995. "Marc did the engineering. I did sales and operations. We moved ACC down to the hills of North Carolina."


"Lulu is very different from Red Hat. Lulu is trying to create a marketplace for authors, musicians, filmmakers. On Lulu, it doesn't cost anything to publish your book. We're trying to do for content what eBay has done for things."


"We did $13 million in 2006. We project north of $30 million in 2007. Richard Brown sells a thousand copies a year of Richard Brown's Replica Watch Report, at $39.96. It costs $15 to print and he keeps 80% of the royalties. No publisher would go anywhere near it."


Lulu depends heavily on open source software, Young says. "We use Red Hat Linux, PostgreSQL, Apache. Eighty to 90% of our software infrastructure is open source. If we had had to buy all the elements, we wouldn't have been able to afford the engineering to build our applications."


"Our business model is the opposite of a publishing house. A major publisher would like 10 authors selling millions of books; we'd like a million authors selling 10 books each. We have a bad poetry market all over Lulu," he says with tongue in cheek. "Our authors are not trying to publish with Random House."

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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