March 22, 2006

Duval layoff: Mandriva CEO responds

Author: NewsForge Staff

Mandriva CEO Francois Bancilhon told NewsForge he wishes he "could still be friends" with Gael Duval, who was laid off this month from the company he co-founded in 1998. Bancilhon said he trusted Duval, that their relationship was good, and that Mandriva is as committed as ever to its community outreach.

In an IRC chat with NewsForge, Bancilhon responded to comments made by Duval in an earlier interview, and subsequently on his personal Web site. Bancilhon stressed that Duval was let go for financial reasons. "I am trying to cut the burn and reduce expenses," he said. "We just tried to cut where it would hurt the product less." He said that Mandriva had cut staff both in France and Brazil. Bancilhon also addressed some of these concerns in a an interview published at

Bancilhon denied that over the past year he had repeatedly asked Duval to leave the company, as Duval claimed in an interview with NewsForge. He said that the layoff happened as part of a consolidation of the marketing, communication, and community outreach departments. "We laid off two people in those three departments and merged them into one. We save cash and we can still do the work."

Duval wrote on his Web site that he believes the closing of the community outreach department is "very meaningful about the current policy," but Bancilhon said that community is still very important at Mandriva. "We announced three years ago that we wanted to address the corporate world without abandoning our community user base," he said. "Our flagship product, Mandriva 2006, is designed for the community market."

Bancilhon said there are no personal difficulties between him and Duval, but the fact that Duval worked remotely "did not make things very easy." Duval's work on his Ultreo project was never a factor in the layoff, Bancilhon said. "I even tried to help him on this project. We tried to see whether it could be a project inside the company, and then we tried to set it up as an external project," he said. "In the end Gael himself decided he wanted to do more work by himself on the project."


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