Mozilla’s New Focus on Thunderbird and Internet Communications

Paul Kim

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[Mozilla announced a new initiative focused on Internet mail and communications yesterday. Read the press release here, and see Mitchell Baker’s post below, crossposted from her blog. – Paul Kim]

Mozilla has been investing in email since the Foundation was created. We have a good, solid client in Thunderbird, and we have aspirations to do more. We’ve spent the last few months working on how to meet those aspirations. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the discussions.

The result is that Mozilla is launching a new effort to improve email and internet communications. We will increase our investment and focus on our current email client — Thunderbird — and on innovations in the email and communications areas. We are doing so by creating a new organization with this as its sole focus and committing resources to this organization. The new organization doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ll call it MailCo here. MailCo will be part of the Mozilla Foundation and will serve the public benefit mission of the Mozilla Foundation. (Technically, it will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, just like the Mozilla Corporation.)

David Ascher is joining Mozilla to lead MailCo. David has been an active participant in the Mozilla project for many years, both in his role as CTO of ActiveState and personally through participation in our governance discussions. In fact it was one if David’s comments on an early draft of the Mozilla Manifesto that helped crystallize its structure. David also has deep experience in the open source world and is a member of the board of directors of the Python Foundation. David also brings familiarity with Mozilla technology and the Mozilla community through years of using Mozilla technology to build ActiveState products, including the new Open Komodo project. We are very fortunate to have David join us to lead this effort.

Mozilla will provide an initial $3 million dollars in seed funding to launch MailCo. This is expected to be spent mostly on building a small team of people who are passionate about email and Internet communications. As MailCo develops it and the Mozilla Foundation will evaluate what’s the best model for long-term sustainability. Mozilla may well invest additional funds; we also hope that there are other paths for sustainability.

We’ll be setting up MailCo in the coming weeks. Part of this is forming the team of people, part is developing a transition plan to move Thunderbird into MailCo gracefully while supporting the Thunderbird users. That will take some time. We ‘re on the path now though and that’s a great thing.

The goals for the new company are:

  • Take care of Thunderbird users
  • Move Thunderbird forward to provide better, deeper email solutions
  • Create a better user experience for a range of Internet communications — how does / should email work with IM, RSS, VoIP, SMS, site-specific email, etc?
  • Spark the types of community involvement and innovation that we’ve seen around web “browsing” and Firefox.

One of the things I find most exciting about the Firefox work is the way people use Firefox to dream up what the web could be, and then go out and so something to make it happen. We can spark the same kind of excitement and energy level and innovation in the email/ communications space. And when we do, Internet life will get much, much better and much more interesting.

Help us make it happen.

– Mitchell Baker, Chair, Mozilla Foundation

3 responses

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