The calendar has switched over to 2008 and so far it has been anything but a happy new year for the One Laptop Per Child Project. First, OLPC Chief Technology Officer (and the first employee of the OLPC) Mary Lou Jepsen announced that she was stepping down as CTO in order to start a new company. Then we found out that a Nigerian company was suing the OLPC over a claimed patent violation. And then at the end of the week it was announced that Intel was stepping down from the board of the OLPC.
If you’re the OLPC you have to be hoping that the old adage of bad news comes in threes holds up and that they’ve seen the end of this string of mishaps. And if that is the case, just how damaging are each of these announcements separately?
The Intel news is probably the least unexpected. It was always a strange marriage, and one that in my opinion mainly happened because Intel didn’t like the bad publicity it was receiving for fighting with the OLPC. Since this marriage was mainly about PR, it was inevitable that it would break up once issues of commitment, integration and cooperation came up.