Is Mozilla/Firefox preparing to go public?

A number of influential tech blogs (Zdnet or New York Times) are asking whether Mozilla (and Firefox) is likely to have an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in the next year or so.

Mozilla, the organisation behind Firefox, has managed to do what many thought would be "mission impossible" - manage to outgun Microsoft and Internet Explorer even if the latter has the formidable advantage of being pre-installed on all Windows-based computers.

Silicon Alley Insider posits that Mozilla could potentially do much better by strengthening its alliance with Google for example; ironically, SIA wonders whether a fully-IPOed Firefox could not buy the Netscape brand from Time Warner and revive it.

The Mozilla foundation responded, via its COO, John Lily, saying that they do "not plan to take Mozilla Corp. public." and that it would be ethically wrong to take Mozilla public.

The money earned from a Mozilla IPO - between USD 1.5 and USD 4 billion according to SIA - could be used to build a formidable Open Source opponent to break Microsoft's hegemony on the desktop front.

But others such as Larry Dignan from ZDNet argues that Mozilla should not be tainted by public money, and could get distracted by the responsibilities associated with a public company.

The NYT's Dealbook follows the same path of Dignan pointing out to the fact that Netscape's IPO was the initiator of the tech bubble which ended in disarray.