It’s been nearly two months since Mozilla originally announced that they were going to help Thunderbird "spread its wings," and it looks like we finally have a result of the talks. Mozilla has decided to branch Thunderbird off into its own subsidiary, and it will be started with $3 million in seed money that has been provided by the Mozilla Foundation.
Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s CEO, says that this move will help them improve the email client:
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.
What will the new organization do exactly? Here’s a few things it hopes to accomplish:
- 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.
The interesting thing in Mitchell’s article is that she was extremely careful this time around to shed some light on the positive things, and seemed to stray away from the things that could cause some concern. One of the things that came to my mind is what’s going to happen after the initial $3 million in seed money is gone? Where are they going to get their funding from then? Firefox is a goldmine when it comes to the integrated search box, but Thunderbird doesn’t really have the same revenue sources as a browser.
Don’t expect to see anything out of the ordinary for a little while since the three current developers will continue to work on Thunderbird 2 patches as well as the future Thunderbird 3. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this move truly is to make Thunderbird better, and here’s hoping that MailCo can sustain itself!