The One Laptop Per Child Project wants to be as efficient as a commercial organization, and to that end is searching for a new CEO and reorganizing departments, the nonprofit organization’s chairman said on Wednesday.
The need for a CEO and improved efficiency stems from OLPC operating “almost like a terrorist group, doing almost impossible things,” and the need to be managed “more like Microsoft,” Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said in an interview with BusinessWeek.
OLPC has reorganized into four operating units — technology, deployment, market development, and fundraising and administration — over the past month, Negroponte told BusinessWeek. He will continue as chairman.
As part of the reorganization, the nonprofit also plans to unload more Linux OS development to Red Hat and Windows OS development to Microsoft, Negroponte said. Negroponte told the IDG News Service in January that OLPC was working with Microsoft to develop a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on the nonprofit’s XO laptops.
That will help OLPC focus more on “developing prototypes and other new concepts” related to learning, Negroponte told BusinessWeek.
OLPC has been plagued with problems since it launched the effort to develop a US$100 XO laptop for children in developing countries three years ago. OLPC has struggled to realize the ambitious vision of developing the laptop, facing delays, rising costs and reduced orders. Critics charge that OLPC’s broken distribution and support models led to reduced orders from governments, its target customers.
In January, OLPC lost Chief Technology Officer Mary Lou Jepsen, who started an organization to commercialize OLPC’s technology, including the screen and battery. A few days later, Intel said it was quitting OLPC after the nonprofit insisted that Intel abandon its effort to develop and distribute Classmate PC, a rival low-cost laptop. OLPC later said that it would welcome Intel back to the effort.
OLPC officials were not available for comment about the search for a CEO.