September 18, 2007

Mozilla drops $3m on new company to develop Thunderbird

Author: Lisa Hoover

Mozilla announced plans this week to sink $3 million into a new Mozilla Foundation project designed to enhance the Thunderbird mail client. Early reports indicate that the as-yet-unnamed newly formed company will focus on positioning Thunderbird for use in Internet communications, including Web-based email, IM, and SMS.

The new organization, code-named MailCo, will be headed up by longtime Mozilla community member and CTO of ActiveState, David Ascher. Along with Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker, he will lead a new development team that is "dedicated to developing, innovating, and improving Internet mail and communication software," using Thunderbird as a starting point. Ascher acknowledges that such a project is a massive undertaking but says he is dedicated to "making email better."

On her Mozillazine blog, Baker writes that the initial seed money will be primarily spent on building a small team for the project but additional funding is expected. The company already has a preliminary plan, however, and Baker says they center around four goals:

  • 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 or how should email work with IM, RSS, VoIP, SMS, site-specific email, etc.?
  • Spark the types of community involvement and innovation that the project has seen around Web browsing and Firefox.

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