SUSE changes hats: new CEO to lead accelerated growth

Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, incoming CEO SUSE

SUSE has announced the appointment of Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen as the firm’s new CEO, starting from May 1, 2023. Current SUSE CEO, Melissa Di Donato, is to leave the company effective immediately after almost four years in the role to embark “on the next chapter of her career”. SUSE’s chief financial offer Andy Myers has been appointed interim CEO in addition to his role as CFO.

Following nearly two decades at Red Hat, most recently placed as Red Hat’s senior vice president and general manager North America, and in Asia Pacific and Japan prior, van Leeuwen is expected to lead the company’s “next phase of accelerated profitable growth”.

Previously under Di Donato’s leadership, SUSE revenues grew by 60 percent and the company completed the strategic acquisitions of Rancher and NeuVector, positioning the firm in the high-growth markets of container management and security.

The announcement of Di Donato’s departure will come as a surprise to many. In SUSE’s most recent quarterly financial results, fiscal Q1 2023, the company performed better than expected, with the operating losses from the last fiscal year swallowed and operating profits looking up with a 101 percent rise. Revenue and annual recurring revenue were also both up into double figures, reaching ten and 11 percent respectively.

When listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in May 2021, SUSE became one of Europe’s most valuable public software companies. However, since its initial listing when the company went public, SUSE’s share value has decreased by 45 percent.

Incoming CEO van Leeuwen no doubt has a wealth of industry experience, especially in open source software, and there is a certain irony that in its mission to take on Red Hat as competition, SUSE has hired one of the company’s senior execs to lead the way.

ERP Today has reached out to the former CEO for comment, but in our incoming issue of ERP Today, Di Donato had recently said that having maintained “SUSE’s momentum and continuing our growth through uncertain times, we could not be more optimistic about what the next 18 months hold”.

In a press release, Di Donato said: “I am proud of the performance that we have delivered during my tenure as CEO and what we have achieved for our customers, partners and the broader SUSE family. After four wonderful years it is now time to pass the reins to the future leadership team and I wish everyone at SUSE the very best.”

Jonas Persson, chair of the supervisory board, said: “On behalf of the supervisory board I would like to thank Melissa for her leadership of SUSE as it laid the foundations for life as a public company and completed its IPO. Her work has strengthened SUSE’s global brand and set it up for success in the coming years. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors. The board is convinced that Dirk-Peter’s outstanding track record and expertize within the enterprise software industry make him the ideal CEO to lead SUSE as it embarks on the next phase of its journey. We are delighted to have him join and look forward to SUSE’s continued journey as the world’s most innovative open source company.”

Incoming SUSE CEO, Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, said: “I would like to thank the supervisory board for the opportunity to join as CEO, and also Melissa who has led the company through a significant period of transformation and growth. I have admired the organization for many years and am now looking forward to working with the executive team and the entire organization to execute on the various opportunities the market offers and serve our customers and partners. I know that SUSE’s people are some of the best in the industry and I am excited to see what we can achieve together.”