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

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.

#64 My take.... (a bit long)

by pkb351 <>

Tuesday July 15th, 2003 8:42 PM

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AOL obviously sees some value in Mozilla. AOL has seeded $2mil to the Mozilla Foundation. Is this the end of AOL's involvement with Mozilla? My intuition says no, but we will have to wait and see.

Does this news mean that Gecko has lost any change of being the engine to drive AOL software? I don't think so. Remember the agreement with Microsoft gave AOL the right to use IE for seven years. The important point is that the agreement never mandated that AOL MUST use IE.

As MS further integrates IE tightly into future versions of Windows it may become harder for AOL to use IE to power its software. Sure Microsoft is under obligation to allow AOL to use IE to power its software. How will this be done? Will AOLers be provided with an inferior version of IE? Will MS claim that all of IE's features cannot be provided to AOL when powering AOL user software. I still believe AOL has plans to use Gecko beyond Compuserve and MacOS X. By depending so heavily on IE AOL is giving over a lot of power to a competitor. All MS has to do to screw AOL is to claim some future "must have" feature can not be used with AOL software as it will only work with the embeded browser. You may think that MS would not do this? Look at the example of the Windows Media plug-in for Mozilla? MS will only ship a crippled version which cannot be scripted and is broken on many sites. This is simply one example, but MS has a history of creating "MS standards" which lock out competitors and previous standards. Java is another such example.

Back to the topic of the Mozilla Foundation. This is not a bad thing at all. I definately do not view the creation of the foundation as Mozilla being abandoned by AOL. I view it as just the opposite. AOL, until recently, was in litigation with MS with the Netscape unit. Because of the litigation Mozilla had to remain closely tied to AOL and to have paid Netscape employees working on Mozilla. If AOL had helped set up the Mozilla Foundation before the anti-trust case with MS over Netscape was settled, AOL would have lost much of its leverage in the cases outcome.

But now the Anti-trust case with MS has been settled and AOL can now sponsor the setting up the Mozilla Foundation. I beleive AOL is doing this for the good of Mozilla, and for the good of the internet and the future of the Mozilla web browser. I don't believe this will spell the end for AOL's involvement in Mozilla.

The Mozilla project needed more freedom from AOL. Mozilla need to control its development apart from AOL and Netscape. This lack of freedom has been holding Mozilla developmemnt back. For a long time Mozilla needed this freedom, but AOL still needed to retain control by funding Netscape employees to work on Mozilla. Now Mozilla has been set free it can be like a butterfly and emerge from its chrysalysis. Beautiful things will emerge. The Mozilla Foundation may pick up other sponsors beyond AOL/Sun/IBM. This can only be good. Now that Mozilla has become more independent of AOL will some who previously overlooked Gecko, such as Apple, return and take a second look? Possibly...this is my hope.

With the foundation all is not gloom and doom. I read somewhere (maybe or someother news site) that most developer laid off will become employees of the Mozilla Foundation. I hope this is correct info. I view this news as very good news. Mozilla has matured to the point where it was being held back by AOL and needed to be set free. With freedom Mozilla now has an opportunity to reach its full potential. I believe it will.

BTW for those who claim that 7.1 may be the last version of Netscape...Maybe...maybe not. Could AOL simply drop an udated gecko engine into 7.1 and call it 7.2? Could 7.2 simply be a customized Netscape skin with a few extras which would be very easy to program? My biggest hope (maybe more wishful thinking) is that the end of Netscape (awaiting offical announcement) may signal that AOL is readying a version of its AOL software which will run with Gecko?

Final thought -> Did AOL finally realize that many end users wanted Mozilla/Firebird/Thunderbird and not Netscape? Is this the reason AOL ended Netscape? I believe with the end of Netscape (if indeed this is true) it does not follow that AOL has given up supporting the Mozilla project. I believe that in the future AOL will still support Mozilla while giving the Mozilla Foundation the freedom it needs.