Mozilla developers form non-profit foundation

The people behind the Mozilla open source project have created a foundation largely funded by America Online (AOL) that will build, support and promote Mozilla products.

AOL has pledged $US2 million in cash to the new non-profit foundation, to be paid over two years in two $1 million installments, a Mozilla Foundation board member, Christopher Blizzard, said. AOL's money, together with other donations, would be used to pay about 10 software developers and other foundation expenses, he said.

"We have always wanted to create some sort of legal entity to represent Mozilla," said Blizzard, whose everyday job is as a software developer for Linux vendor Red Hat. "It is convenient to do it now, mostly because AOL wanted to provide funding."

The Mozilla Foundation would put more focus on making the Mozilla browser and email client more end-user friendly, Blizzard said.

"We have always been a technology clearing house and we did not care about people who use our products. We will now provide help and focus on end-users," he said.

As part of the funding deal with AOL, several Mozilla developers at AOL would move to the new foundation, Blizzard said.

There was a "transition team" at AOL to help these developers move over, he said. AOL would also give the foundation equipment, domain names and trade marks associated with Mozilla, the foundation said.

AOL would still use Mozilla technology and keep some people who work on Mozilla, Blizzard said.

AOL did not return calls seeking comment.

Mozilla was started in early 1998 by Netscape Communications, which AOL acquired later that year. AOL has been supporting Mozilla development since then, but the amount of support had been decreasing.

Without the close ties to AOL, the foundation was free to look around for funding, Blizzard said.

Mitch Kapor, the chairman of the Mozilla Foundation and founder of Lotus Development, had pledged $300,000, for example.

Money for Mozilla should not only come from donations, but also from direct revenue generated through end-user services or developer services, Blizzard said. Mozilla was started in early 1998 by Netscape Communications, which AOL acquired later that year.

AOL has been supporting Mozilla development since then, but the amount of support had been decreasing.

Money for Mozilla should not only come from donations, but also from direct revenue generated through end-user services or developer services, Blizzard said.

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Joris Evers

IDG News Service
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