Jamie Zawinski's "Fear and Loathing on the Merger Trail"

Tuesday November 24th, 1998

Jamie Zawinski of has put up an opinion piece regarding the AOL/Netscape merger and its relationship to Mozilla.

#11 Re:Jamie Zawinski's

by Waldo

Wednesday November 25th, 1998 9:04 AM

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Put it this way-- AOL is going to act in its own interests. AOL has a reputation as being primarily interested in the lowest-common denominator when it comes to the end user. They've been selling a proprietary system for years-- Do they REALLY care about open source? AOL is the cathedral, not the bazaar.

If it decides to keep 100 programmers working full-time on Mozilla, we can expect that those programmers will be representing AOL's interests, not the good of Mozilla to non-AOL customers or to people using non-AOL OS's, etc. Netscape was different-- it followed a different philosophy and was I believe a very different company than AOL. Maybe I'm being nieve in qualifying companies as "good" and "evil" but come on...

Netscape had a lot of power in the development of Mozilla-- aside from the 100 programmers they were also supporting the site at, hosting the newgroups used for development, and netscape employees were the wide majority of module owners and were clearly in a leadership role (as they should have been, since Mozilla was their baby).

So what's going to happen now? Are hackers going to feel comfortable building an AOL-supervised project? Is AOL going to be supportive the cross platform nature of Mozilla if it doesn't make them a profit? What will they leverage their current leadership position on this project INTO? What will "Netscape Navigator 5.0" look like?

I don't know the answers, but I don't like having to think about the questions.

It's been my experience, incidentally, when two companies merge that the buying company starts out by saying "everything will be the same as it was so don't worry" and then, step by step, when the spotlight is pointed somewhere else, drastic changes are made.

I'm just dreading a situation with two Microsofts each trying to embrace and extend new protocols so that they can tighten their grip on new standards.

I see an Internet divided.

Is there any possibility that Netscape's shareholders could reject this deal? W