Back in July, Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker said that because Firefox was first priority for Mozilla Corp., the company had to rid itself of its Thunderbird email client. A public discussion soon began about the future of Thunderbird, outlining three possible options: Creating a new nonprofit organization to focus on the email program, building a new subsidiary of the foundation just for Thunderbird, or releasing Thunderbird into the wild as a community-only project.
After much feedback from the open source community, Mozilla Corp. decided to spin off its Thunderbird email client into a new for-profit subsidiary and seeded the unnamed company with $3 million in start-up money. The move mirrors the Mozilla Foundation's decision to create Mozilla Corp. to manage Firefox back in 2005.
From the end user point of view, the reorganization won't change much - at least for the moment. Eventually, Mozilla hopes this move will "allow Thunderbird to reach its full potential" and ignite the same kind of community involvement and innovation in the email communications space as Firefox has done in the Web browsing space.