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Is Mozilla Actually AOL-Netscape's Mozilla?

Mike Angelo -- 11 January 2002 (c)

Page 2


Mozilla's chief technical officer, Brendan Eich, is a Netscape (NSCP) employee. Don't forget that in August 2001, Netscape laid-off Mozilla's chief lizard wrangler, Mitchell Baker, who at that time also was a Netscape employee. Nine of the thirteen people listed on the Mozilla Organization Web site as Mozilla Organization Staff, including Eich and Baker, are either current or former Netscape employees. In effect, the Netscape people pretty much dominate the Mozilla organization staff. And so on and so forth.

Conclusion

The dominance of Netscape people working on Mozilla projects and involved in Mozilla leadership and management appears to be well evidenced by the available data. That does bring into some question really just how independent of AOL-Netscape is the Mozilla Project and Organization.

There are of course other companies and independent developers involved with the Mozilla Project. That does support those who would argue the independence of the Mozilla Organization and Project.

However, as it stands now it appears that Mozilla is not really all that independent of AOL and its Netscape division. Moreover, for the most part Mozilla development is done by paid commercial developers rather than independent volunteers. Additionally, the major user of the open-source Mozilla browser-suite is AOL-Netscape, which uses the open-source Mozilla code as a base for its proprietary, closed-source, Netscape 6 products.

That of course raises an interesting question regarding the involvement of volunteer coders in Mozilla software development. Are they actually donating their valuable time to provide commercial software for AOL-Netscape -- for free? Or, on the other hand has AOL-Netscape contributed some $50-million to $100-million to develop free, public domain, software? The answer to those questions likely is some of each.

The paperwork legalese might make it look as though Mozilla is independent of AOL and Netscape. However, you may as well forget that legal crap. In our opinion, the nexus between Mozilla and Netscape is so close that in reality, Mozilla is a de facto division of AOL's Netscape division.


(Back to Page 1)



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