Mark Shuttleworth 2011


Mark Shuttleworth was born on 18 September 1973 in Welkom in the Free State. He studied finance and information technology at the University of Cape Town where he was involved in the installation of the first residential Internet connections at the university. In 1995, his final year at UCT, Mark founded Thawte, an Internet consulting business which later shifted to Internet security for electronic commerce. Thawte became the first company to produce a full-security encrypted e-commerce web server that was commercially available outside the USA. Thawte was one of the first companies to be recognised by both Netscape and Microsoft as a trusted third party for website certification, and it quickly established a leadership position helping businesses around the world accept secure transactions over the web.

In 1999, Mark sold Thawte to the US Company VeriSign – it was then the fastest-growing Internet certificate authority worldwide, and the leading certificate authority outside of the USA. He then founded HBD Venture Capital, believing that entrepreneurs in South Africa have the potential to start businesses with global impact. HBD has invested in several South African companies in a variety of sectors, such as software, pharmaceutical services, electronics and mobile phone services.

In the hope that risk capital can be as important for social development as it is for the economy, Mark has also created a non-profit organisation that supports social innovation in education in Africa. The Shuttleworth Foundation funds projects that have the potential to bring about dramatic improvements to some aspects of the education system and hopes to improve both the quality and the reach of education in Africa. The Foundation has worked in all 9 provinces of South Africa, funding initiatives from teachers, small businesses and private individuals. The Foundation is a catalyst for accelerated change in civil society. It seeks to identify ideas that have the potential to create tremendous change for good in civil society, and funds them for implementation in South Africa. The ideas can be South African in origin, but the Foundation also seeks to identify global trends and to bring new ideas to South Africa that are working well in other countries.

Mark moved to London in 2001, and began preparing for the First African in Space mission, training in Star City, Russia, and in Khazakstan. In April 2002 he flew in space, as a cosmonaut member of the crew of Soyuz mission TM34 to the International Space Station. Since then, he has worked on a road show to share that experience as well as his excitement about science, mathematics and technology with pupils across South Africa. The science and mathematics show under the Hip2BSquare brand has been seen by more than 100,000 pupils from nearly 2,000 schools.

In March 2004 Mark formed Canonical Ltd., for the promotion and commercial support of free software projects. The Ubuntu project, which aims to produce a high quality desktop and server operating system that is freely available all over the world, is funded through Canonical Ltd. Sub-projects include specialised desktop environments for schools, and for the needs of people in specific countries or industries, such as Edubuntu and Kubuntu. In December 2009, Shuttleworth stepped down as the CEO of Canonical, Ltd to focus his energy on product design, partnership and customers.

In recognition of his contribution to the field of Information Technology, through sustained open source initiatives endeavouring to promote universal and free access to the tools of the digital era, it is an honour for NMMU to confer the degree of Doctor Philosophy: Information Technology (honoris causa) on MARK SHUTTLEWORTH.