Editor’s note: Earlier this afternoon, Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst shared this email with Red Hat associates about why Red Hat agreed to merge with IBM in a deal worth $34 billion.

RALEIGH – A few minutes ago, we announced that Red Hat has signed an agreement to combine forces with IBM in the largest software company acquisition to date. Red Hat will remain a distinct unit in IBM.

Tomorrow (Oct. 29, 2018), we will have a company all-hands meeting where you will hear from me, Paul, and IBM chair, president, and CEO Ginni Rometty. I hope you can make it. Details on logistics follow this note.

In the meantime, I want to explain why I am excited and believe today’s news presents a tremendous opportunity for Red Hat and open source.

The first time I stepped foot on Red Hat’s former headquarters at North Carolina State University was a Sunday. I was there to meet with Matthew Szulik, Red Hat’s then CEO. The lights inside the building were off and the doors were locked. I didn’t know what to think. Matthew eventually showed up and we had a refreshingly different interview at a coffee shop, talking for a long time about Red Hat and open source. Everything Matthew told me about Red Hat made me more and more excited about the company and its opportunity. After our conversation, I knew that Red Hat was special and I wanted to be a part of it. As it turns out, that was the best cup of coffee I ever had. This is the best job I’ve ever had.

Like many of you, I joined Red Hat because it shares my values. I need a mission to fuel my work and Red Hat’s – “To be the catalyst in communities of partners and customers and contributors building better technology the open-source way.” – still drives me.

When I joined in January 2008, Red Hat was about 2,200 associates and the first open source software company to earn more than $500 million in revenues. Our portfolio was “just” Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Middleware, and technologies to manage both. Today, there are approximately 12,600 Red Hatters and we have a portfolio that now spans hybrid cloud infrastructure, cloud-native app platforms, and management and automation.

We have barely scratched the surface of the opportunity that is ahead of us. Open source is the future of enterprise IT. We believe our total addressable market to be $73 billion by 2021. If software is eating the world – and with digital transformation occurring across industries, it truly is – open source is the key ingredient.

Powered by IBM, we can dramatically scale and accelerate what we are doing today. Imagine Red Hat with greater resources to grow into the opportunity ahead of us. Imagine Red Hat with the ability to invest even more and faster to accelerate open source innovation in emerging areas. Imagine Red Hat reaching all corners of the world, with even deeper customer and partner relationships than we have today. Imagine us helping even more customers benefit from the choice and flexibility afforded by hybrid and multi-cloud. Joining forces with IBM offers all of that, years ahead of when we could have achieved it alone. Together we can become *the* leading hybrid cloud solutions provider.

Importantly, Red Hat is still Red Hat. When the transaction closes, as I noted above, we will be a distinct unit within IBM and I will report directly to Ginni. Our unwavering commitment to open source innovation remains unchanged. The independence IBM has committed to will allow Red Hat to continue building the broad ecosystem that enables customer choice and has been integral to open source’s success in the enterprise. IBM is acquiring Red Hat for our amazing people and our incredibly special culture and approach to making better software. They understand and value how and why we are different and they are committed to allowing us to remain Red Hat while scaling and accelerating all that makes us great with their resources.

I appreciate that everyone will experience a range of emotions as a result of this news. Excited, anxious, surprised, fear of the unknown, including new challenges and working relationships – these are all ways I would describe my emotions. What I know is that we will continue to focus on growing our culture as part of a new organization. We will continue to focus on the success of our customers. We will continue to nurture our relationships with partners. Collaboration, transparency, participation, and meritocracy – these values make us Red Hat and they are not changing. In fact, I hope we will help bring this culture across all of IBM. Together we can.

I’d be remiss if I ended this email without saying thank you. Thank you to the original pioneers of open source and of Red Hat, to the Red Hatters who have contributed to this amazing company’s success throughout the last 25+ years, to our loyal customers and partners, and to the open source communities that are delivering innovation that is advancing technology at once unimaginable paces.

Open source, open formats, and open standards have not only changed technology; they have also changed our society for the good. Red Hat’s role in all of that cannot be understated. With IBM, we have the opportunity to accelerate this work at a greater scale and show everyone that open really does unlock the world’s potential.