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Negroponte Seeks a Laptop CEO

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Over the past two decades, multimedia pioneer and college professor Nicholas Negroponte has gained a reputation for producing outsize ideas. Chief among them was his goal of providing 150 million of the world's poorest children with inexpensive

laptop computers

by the end of this year through the One Laptop Per Child organization. But, with the group far short of his goal, Negroponte is looking for help in piloting OLPC. During an interview with BusinessWeek, he revealed publicly for the first time that he's searching for a chief executive while he continues in the role of chairman. He says the organization has been operating "almost like a terrorist group, doing almost impossible things" for three years. Now, he says, it needs to be managed "more like Microsoft."

The CEO search comes amid a retrenchment for the organization that Negroponte started three years ago. OLPC will hand more of the development and support of its XO laptop and its core software to technology companies, including Red Hat (RHT), the leading distributor of the Linux open-source operating system, and Microsoft (MSFT), which is just now putting the finishing touches on a version of Windows for the XO machine. OLPC will concentrate on developing prototypes and other new concepts. "In the end, we should not be in the hardware or software business. We should be in the learning business," says Negroponte, 64.

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