Mozilla Foundation Formed As AOL Lays Off 50 Netscape Employees

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Mozilla.org, sporting a new look on its home page, has formed The Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit that will support its development efforts and promote its software. The foundation was launched with $2 million in support from AOL as well as a $300,000 donation from Mitch Kapor, chairman of The Mozilla Foundation. From the Mozilla.org press release:

Mozilla.org, the organization that coordinates Mozilla open source development, today announced the launch of a new foundation that will continue to promote the development, distribution and adoption of the award-winning Mozilla standards-based web applications and core technologies, including the Gecko browser layout engine. The Mozilla Foundation will continue and expand on the efforts of mozilla.org, the group managing the daily operations of the Mozilla project since its inception.

"It has been a long-standing objective of the Mozilla team to create an independent organization so we can continue to lead and innovate," said Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler at mozilla.org, who will become President of The Mozilla Foundation. "Weire grateful for the past and ongoing support of America Online, and we look forward to continuing to work with AOL over coming years. Mozilla was developed in an open source environment and built by harnessing the creative power of thousands of programmers on the Internet. Going forward, we will continue to partner with developers and industry leaders to keep content on the Web open."

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To help launch the new organization, America Online has pledged $2 million in cash to the Mozilla Foundation over the next two years. AOL will also contribute additional resources through equipment, domain names and trademarks, and related intellectual property, as well as providing some transitional assistance for key personnel as they move into the new organization.

Other companies supporting the new foundation include Red Hat and Sun Microsystems.

Meanwhile, a CNET News.com article explains that AOL has fired 50 Netscape employees as part of the reorganization:

The move affects less than 10 percent of Netscape employees, according to an AOL representative, who added that the company plans to continue to support current versions of the Netscape browser and the Netscape Web portal.

"Netscape remains a key part of our multibrand strategy," AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said. "We will continue to support the browser and the portal."

A seemingly more reactionary MozillaZine article paints a picture of a more bleak future for Netscape:

It has been learned through public and private sources that AOL has cut or will cut the remaining team working on Mozilla in a mass firing and are dismantling what was left of Netscape (theyive even pulled the logos off the buildings). Some will remain working on Mozilla during the transition, and will move to other jobs within AOL.

The news isnit all doom and gloom, folks. Iive been informed that the number of volunteer Mozilla hackers started eclipsing the number of Netscape hackers last month, and that a number of folks have already been snatched up by other organizations.

For more information, visit the Mozilla home page and read the press release.

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