AOL Cuts Remaining Mozilla Hackers
Tuesday July 15th, 2003
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 (they've 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 isn't all doom and gloom, folks. I've 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.
Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: Looks like folks are starting to post to ex-mozilla.org.
UPDATE: I was told to stress that Mozilla will continue, and that many of the folks let go today will continue to devote time and energy to it. I'd like to wish all the best of luck, and I'd like to thank everyone for the amazing contributions that they have made over the past five years.
UPDATE #3: Some changes made to the main text above.
Wednesday July 16th, 2003 12:02 PM
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I'm not trying to make AOL look smart. The Netscape business owners absolutely oversold the business and their capabilities to AOL, and indeed AOL never got their money's worth. The settlement cash is essentially cutting AOL's losses, at a time when it was clear that AOL would never get more than a $750M value out of Netscape. That's my personal opinion, anyway.
However, AOL did have a clear strategy of what to do with the browser. Plain and simple, they wanted to embed it in the AOL client. IE was, at one point, an utter nightmare in terms of embedding. It crashed frequently, killed the quality of experience for AOL members, and generated a whole lot of call-center costs. The trouble is, the software quality of Mozilla was so poor -- due to being overloaded with unnecessary features -- and the engineering process so slow -- due in no small part to the screaming unwashed hordes of Mozilla "contributors" -- that Gecko never made it into anything besides the CompuServe client. The embedding project was in the works for almost three years, and not a damn thing ever came to fruition beyond that. Simply, they had a plan and they tried to execute on it, but because AOL tried to play nice with Netscape CPD rather than instilling some decent process and setting higher expectations, it failed.
Call it stupidity, call it what you will. In my opinion, AOL got shafted by Netscape and much of the apparent errors in their planning was due to the constant dawning realization that they didn't get what they had paid for.