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Is Mozilla/Firefox preparing to go public?

A number of influential tech blogs (Zdnet (opens in new tab) or New York Times (opens in new tab)) 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.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.