Mozilla's New CEO, John Lilly Steps Up To The Task

The former COO talks about launching the group's e-mail client, modifying the browser for mobile devices, and dispelling rumors about taking the company public.

John Lilly, CEO, Mozilla

John Lilly
CEO, Mozilla

InformationWeek: Is there any reason for Mozilla to go public? InformationWeek: Is there any reason for Mozilla to go public?

John Lilly: We're not going to go public. There're a couple of reasons to go public. One is to get money to give to people who worked on the thing. The other is to get operating capital so you can do more stuff. As to the first one, people are here because the Web is important, not for millions of dollars of financial windfall. So an IPO is not attractive for that particular reason. ...The other reason, working capital, we have some working capital in the bank now. I think our recent financial statements show us having about $50 million in the bank. ...We don't think we need to go to the capital markets right now for more money right. And I don't anticipate that will change.

InformationWeek: Is Mozilla doing anything to close the gap between local application performance and cloud application performance? The browser remains a poor choice for gaming due to lack of 3D acceleration support.

John Lilly: For casual games, Flash has been a fine thing to use. For things like virtual worlds, it's not always been powerful enough. I think with things like SVG and Canvas, that'll bring new -- we have some demos of some 3D work in the browser. That'll start to show up. Obviously we're working on desktop integration and offline storage, and I think we'll close the gap in terms of user experience that way. Performance... that's a good question. I think we're really just starting to explore 3D in the browser. That'll come with time.

InformationWeek: Is there anything else that's on your mind?

John Lilly: I think the Weave stuff is important. In labs we have a project around taking things that are in your browser and in the cloud and connecting them up. And we expect more of that to happen through the year. We just put up our test servers and put up a test extension. And I think there will be lots and lots of experimentation there as we figure out how to build a platform for applications.

InformationWeek: Can you explain a bit more about what Weave does?

John Lilly: People use synchronization services for bookmarks or [Web] history or searches or things like that now. They use Google or or Foxmarks or something. They're basically storing their information on these third-parties. At Mozilla, we think we can provide that kind of cloud computing storage for people. And we think we can start with synchronization of browser state and history and that kind of stuff. And then over time, we can allow other service providers to connect up to our Weave servers so we can get more and more value-added stuff in the browser. So we think we can do this stuff, store encrypted data and give users control over who gets to access what, and how...that kind of thing.

InformationWeek: Do you foresee Mozilla running its own full-blown storage service or will it rely on third-party storage services like Mozy through APIs?

John Lilly: I think both things are in the realm of possibility. We talked about both. We'll have our own data store to start with. I think that hooking in third-parties, both from a services point of view and from a storage point of view is going to make sense before very long.

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