The strife-torn One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is looking for a new CEO, as the non-profit organisation's high-profile chairman has said it now needs to be run with the ruthless efficiency of a commercial organisation.
OLPC’s three-year-old effort to develop a cheap XO laptop for 150 million children in developing countries has been plagued by rising costs, poor distribution and disappointing orders from governments, its target customers. The original $100 price of the laptop has risen to $188.
Just last month alone it lost its chief technology officer and partner Intel quit after OLPC insisted 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.
Now chairman and multimedia pioneer Nicholas Negroponte has told BusinessWeek the OLPC's habit of operating "almost like a terrorist group, doing almost impossible things" needs to stop and it needs to be managed "more like Microsoft".
Reorganisation is part of the plan, with the project now reordered into four operating units – technology, deployment, market development, and fundraising and administration – said Negroponte, who will continue as chairman.
The non-profit body also plans to unload more Linux OS development to Red Hat and Windows OS development to Microsoft, Negroponte said.
Negroponte said 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.