Proposal for Thunderbird crowdfunding

Axel axel.grude at
Tue Sep 25 08:45:38 UTC 2012

*To: *"Kent James"<kent at>
*From: *"David Ascher"<dascher at>
*CC: *"tb-planning" tb-planning at
*Sent: *Tuesday, 25/09/12 00:45:10 00:45 GMT Daylight Time {GMT DT} +0100 [Week 39]
*Subject:*Re: Proposal for Thunderbird crowdfunding

> [David] +1 to Kent for pushing on this topic.
same here, most of the guys on the Tb Team know this is also my stance on the future 
for Tb.

> [David] I don't yet know what business models could work for Thunderbird, not for lack of trying.  But I think we should keep exploring, pushing, discussing, how to make Thunderbird sustainable.
Even more so - I would state "We _must_ develop a business model to make Thunderbird 
sustainable. Otherwise it is destined to drop into oblivion."

> [Kent] That is my fear of where we are headed with Thunderbird. I get the sense that 
> people believe that the really right thing to do is for armies of people to come 
> forward and offer to volunteer their experience to make this thing really go.  
> People who talk about monetization are viewed with suspicion, as somehow not getting 
> the message that it is "not about money", it is supposed to be about having fun and 
> doing great things.
My question is, is this really the case? What is the view of the community on this - 
are they really opposed to the thought of paying for management / development? After 
all, when the project / teams were paid by Mozilla, they didn't mind, either. I would 
much more prefer to see Thunderbird sustaining itself than being in any way dependent 
on monies from the Mozilla foundation (which must focus on B2G / FxOS at the moment). 
I would even prefer outright hiring back some of the time of the talented and 
knowledgeable people on the existing Tb-Team who will be forced to re-allocate large 
portions of their current work time to other Mozilla projects, a thing that would be 
possible if Thunderbird had a Mozilla-independent Management group.

At the moment, the plan seems to be "outsource to the community, but let them donate 
their work efforts for free" although it could be "outsource to the community and let 
Thunderbird build a business model to sustain itself". These is definitely a market, 
as we also can see from the encouraging news from the French government. At the moment 
Tb management seems to be in deep freeze until resources are used up, and I do not 
think this is a good strategy to deal with the future.

If Mozilla is interested in "not killing" Thunderbird, I would like to see at least 
_one_ official business manager / leader working on this project full time in order to 
help making it self sustained, and helping to "pass the key". I remember JB's slides 
from his presentation (community to the bridge, Mozilla staff to the engine room) - if 
Tb is a ship, who is / will be the captain?
> But if that model is unable to meet the real need of what we all hope to achieve, 
> are you doing more harm than good by promoting the "fun and great things" model of 
> participation? Or asking for a few hundred dollars, and think that is going to make 
> a difference, when I would guess that Mozilla has spent over $10,000,000 in the last 
> few years sustaining Thunderbird?
Rather than guessing about this, it would be good to know some of the real figures, 
which plays into the "lack of management" topic. Let's keep the discussion up, and 
please participate if you have any opinion on this.


*Axel Grude* [T]
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor
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