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[ox-en] interesting economics of the modzilla foundation

Mozilla Officially Out of Netscape

Open source development group Tuesday officially separated from
its one-time browser parent Netscape Communications by moving its operations
under the roof of new non-profit group The Mozilla Foundation.

The move is yet another sign that the days of America Online's Netscape
Communications division, which originally launched the Mozilla project, are
numbered. An AOL spokesman said Netscape has laid off about 50 members of
its Netscape browser teams, but said some employees have been re-hired by
the new foundation.

Since AOL's settlement of its suit against Microsoft, which officially ended
the companies' IE/Netscape browser war, industry observers have said a
scaled-down Netscape is a foregone conclusion. Netscape holds a tiny
fraction of the market share for browsers compared to Microsoft's dominant
IE browser, and AOL has the option of using Microsoft's browser and other
software products as part of their legal settlement.

As part of its send-off, AOL said it pledged $2 million to The Mozilla
Foundation, which is expected to expand on the efforts of, the
group that manages the daily operations of Mozilla projects.

Mozilla said the non-profit foundation would work to promote Mozilla's Web
applications, code base, and other core technologies such as the Gecko
browser layout engine.

"As before, will coordinate and encourage the development and
testing of Mozilla code," the group said in a statement. "The Mozilla
Foundation will also promote the distribution and adoption of our flagship
applications based on that code. AOL, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, and
other companies will continue to support Mozilla through the Foundation."

Mozilla members said spinning out core Mozilla assets was positive for the
group's goals.

"Now that the Mozilla Foundation has been launched, we believe the time is
ripe to move aggressively toward new distribution channels, new end-user
markets, and better incorporation of developer-driven innovations from the
whole Mozilla community," Mozilla members Mitchell Baker and Brendan Eich
wrote in a note to newsgroups Tuesday.

"Whenever a project shifts footing or changes focus, there is tension
between old and new. We are sensitive to this tension, and we do not plan
any abrupt changes. staff will continue to manage the project.
Three members of staff will be on the Board of Directors of the Mozilla
Foundation -- Mitchell Baker, Brendan Eich, and Chris Blizzard -- so the
governing body of the Mozilla Foundation is congruent with long-term project

The board's role, the note continued, is to provide general oversight, and
the role of staff, drivers, reviewers, and module owners will
continue as before.

Mitch Kapor, the new Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, also made a
personal contribution to the foundation of $300,000. Linux distribution
company Red Hat and Sun Microsystems also said they would continue their
contributions to the Mozilla open source project.

In a statement, Kapor said Mozilla's new independent status would give it
"even more freedom to innovate and provide meaningful choice to users on all
computer environments. A competitive, standards-compliant browser suite is
vitally important to maintaining freedom and innovation on the Internet, so
I'm delighted to make a contribution," he said.

Kapor, who designed the original spreadsheet program Lotus 1-2-3, also
chairs the Open Source Applications Foundation.

An AOL spokesman said the company continues to support the Netscape browser.

However, it remains unclear whether any new product releases from Netscape
are planned.


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