Governance and Release Model updates

Gervase Markham gerv at
Mon Nov 12 10:35:04 UTC 2012

On 09/11/12 23:01, Kent James wrote:
> Mozilla (JB & DA): To believe that both of these failed to generate
> sufficient income, you have to believe that there is something in
> Mozilla culture or organization that prevented them from seeing or
> pursuing other paths.

Or that it's just not possible.

> There are plenty of candidates: 1) not enough
> focus on the enterprise, 2) too much focus on hoping to fulfill
> Mozilla's mandate of gaining internet influence, 3) complacency born of
> dependency on Firefox income, 4) protecting a Mozilla image that relies
> implicitly on that same Firefox income, 5) strong belief in Mozilla that
> desktop clients like Thunderbird are obsolete, 6) unable to pursue
> directions that involve direct payment from users.

I don't know JB that well really, but I know David Ascher is a smart 
guy. I'm pretty sure that 5, 4 and 3 were not factors.

1) and 2) may be true, and may be connected, but I don't think either 
man needs to apologise for trying to see how best to fulfill the Mozilla 
mission, given that he was being paid by Mozilla. Messaging is currently 
heading down a more proprietary path; Mozilla would very much like to 
stop that. And that remains true irrespective of whether "make 
Thunderbird" is an important piece of our response or not.

>>> For Thunderbird to even attempt this
>>> direction would have significant risk and controversy, and that is
>>> exactly the last thing that Mozilla wants for Thunderbird right now.
>> I think it's a political reality that they will need to be
>> organizationally independent of Mozilla-the-organization.
> I'm so glad to hear you say that. It's been difficult to talk about
> possible alternate governance of a future Mozilla-based communications
> client without being viewed as anti-Mozilla, or trying some sort of coup.

I don't want to be misunderstood; I was saying that if an organization 
wants to go out and *raise funds for employing people* to develop the 
codebase, I think it would need to be not-Mozilla. But then I point out 
that Postbox tried something like this, and don't seem to have done all 
that well. So I wonder whether it would work.

However, I'm not saying that I'm in favour of moving Thunderbird the 
product and brand out from the Mozilla umbrella.

> To avoid the Postbox situation, it really is important that this
> "organizationally independent of Mozilla-the-organization" entity be at
> least cooperative with, and ideally highly symbiotic with Thunderbird.

I would hope any organization, company or group wanting to work on the 
Thunderbird codebase would be cooperative with Thunderbird!

> I'm still considering possible futures. If anyone else is interested in
> discussing this more, what do you think would be the best forum for that?

Here seems fine to me :-)

> 3) One of their founders, Seth Spitzer, is now  working for Zygna. His
> page at describes Postbox as having
> "tens of thousands of paying customers". That means that their total
> sales over 5 years have probably been less than $1,000,000 - certainly
> not enough to fund 3 full-time silicon valley types.

Depends if by "customers" he means "people" or "companies".


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