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Thunderbird has a new owner

The open source email client Thunderbird has finally found a new home. The team announced today that the Thunderbird project will be "operating from a new wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation" called MZLA Technologies Corporation.

When Mozilla announced plans in 2015 to drop Thunderbird from the list of applications that it maintains actively, many users of the email client feared that it could be the end of the popular desktop email program.

Mozilla wanted to free up engineers for Firefox and focus its attention on the core product (which made money).  The organization pledged to support Thunderbird for the time being to ensure that the client would remain up to date with security patches and fixes. Thunderbird development slowed down considerable at first as the search for a new home began.

In 2017, Thunderbird was moved under the umbrella of Mozilla Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that is best known for the Firefox web browser. Thunderbird development would be independent of Firefox for the most part but still supported by Mozilla.

Donations increased in that time, as did staff and plans to improve Thunderbird further. The announcement published on the official Thunderbird blog reveals that the Thunderbird project remains a part of Mozilla Foundation but operates under MZLA Techologies Corporation from now on.

According to the announcement, the change won't impact day-to-day activities or mission, the free open source nature of Thunderbird, people that contribute to the project or the email client's release schedule. All of that remains as is.

The team hopes that the move will give the project "more flexibility and agility", and that it also paves the way for "new products and services that were not possible under the Mozilla Foundation". The Thunderbird Project may "collect revenue through partnerships and non-charitable donations" which would be used to "over the costs of new products and services".

The overall focus won't change according to the announcement.

Thunderbird’s focus isn’t going to change. We remain committed to creating amazing, open source technology focused on open standards, user privacy, and productive communication. The Thunderbird Council continues to steward the project, and the team guiding Thunderbird’s development remains the same.

The team plans to share information about the future direction and plans in the coming months.

Now You: What do you expect from this ownership change?

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Thunderbird has a new owner
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Thunderbird has a new owner
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The open source email client Thunderbird has finally found a new home. The team announced today that the Thunderbird project will be "operating from a new wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation" called MZLA Technologies Corporation.
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Comments

  1. Iron Heart said on January 29, 2020 at 12:06 pm
    Reply

    “MZLA Technologies Corporation!” Gods, what a stupid name! “MZLA Technologies Corporation”… Who named you? A half wit with a stutter? – Robert Baratheon

    As for the content of the article: No, Thunderbird doesn’t have a new owner (clickbait). It’s still under the umbrella of the Mozilla Foundation, they just restructured a bit so that it is now its own subsidiary.

    > In 2017, Thunderbird was moved under the umbrella of Mozilla Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that is best known for the Firefox web browser.

    No, Firefox is developed by the for-profit Mozilla Corporation, which is in turn owned by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation supports initiatives that fight for the freedom of the web, for example a communication platforms primarily used by Antifa:

    https://www.foxnews.com/tech/mozilla-gave-100000-to-secure-email-platform-harnessed-by-antifa-groups

    When you donate to “Mozilla”, the Mozilla Foundation will receive the donations, not the Mozilla Corporation. The donations do NOT contribute to Firefox development at all:

    https://old.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/a98gmi/donations_to_mozilla_foundation_are_not_used_for/

    1. Tom Hawack said on January 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm
      Reply

      @Sigh, I quite agree, Iron Heart’s comments, if often interesting get spoiled by what seems to be obsessive and irrelevant ties to political considerations. I confess increasingly jumping over his comments because of that, it’s really becoming too much. Of course, freedom of speech is all between the writer and the site’s administrator. Would be nice if he made the effort to calm down.

      1. Iron Heart said on January 29, 2020 at 4:46 pm
        Reply

        @Tom Hawack

        > if often interesting get spoiled by what seems to be obsessive and irrelevant ties to political considerations.

        Irrelevant to you, maybe. Mind your own business and don’t presume to speak for others.

        > I confess increasingly jumping over his comments because of that, it’s really becoming too much.

        I confess the same. If I wanted to read unreflected Firefox apologists, I would head to r/firefox, they are plentiful in number over there.

        > Of course, freedom of speech is all between the writer and the site’s administrator.

        Oh, nice. The very thing @Sigh will probably continue to overlook.

        > Would be nice if he made the effort to calm down.

        Call a spade a spade, you want to shut up / to end my criticism of Mozilla. Won’t happen as long as they do what they do. We already have enough apologists here, namely you and @Sigh and @svim and many others. No need to add me to the Firefox diehard choir.

      2. Tom Hawack said on January 29, 2020 at 6:45 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart, what does it bring you to tie all your comments to political considerations? Concerning your anti-Mozilla crusade I wouldn’t be surprised you consider it as a messianic mission given the extraordinary zeal you apply to fulfill it. I just don’t understand, I’d love to understand though because as I wrote above the core of your comments is often most interesting, documented. Anyway, I won’t stop reading you, I’ll just skip your eternal ties to politics. I’m sure you’re a good guy, a bit whimsical IMO but as they say, take people as they are.

      3. smaragdus said on January 30, 2020 at 7:29 am
        Reply

        @Tom Hawack

        I find your comments always totally idiotic and I wish there was a way to block them because scrolling down to skip them is still a waste of time.

  2. Klaas Vaak said on January 29, 2020 at 12:17 pm
    Reply

    Mozilla took the oil out. Let’s hope Thunderbird won’t grind to a halt.

  3. Hatty said on January 29, 2020 at 12:33 pm
    Reply

    “Donations increased in that time, as did staff and plans to improve Thunderbird further” implies that those donations go towards development, none of them does. They just make it sound as though they do and they can’t develop without them.

  4. Mike said on January 29, 2020 at 12:36 pm
    Reply

    Hmm…seems like a laundering scheme. Everything about Mozilla’s “non-profit” is a total PR to cover their underlying ulterior motives. Firing their QA team while their execs salary rocketed. I don’t know…

    1. Iron Heart said on January 29, 2020 at 4:48 pm
      Reply

      @Mike

      Firefox market share vs. Mitchell Baker (Mozilla CEO) compensation:

      https://twitter.com/BrendanEich/status/1217512049716035584

    2. ULBoom said on January 29, 2020 at 9:57 pm
      Reply

      Mozilla Foundation is a 501c3 non profit, Mozilla Corp is not. Nothing unusual about non profits having for profits under their wings.

      Mozilla Foundation’s Form 990 Tax Return for 2018 is here:
      https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/annualreport/2018/

  5. mike said on January 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm
    Reply

    Even tho I’ve moved over to a combination of self-hosted webmail (roundcube) and mutt. It’s good to see that Thunderbird is alive and well.

  6. Yuliya said on January 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm
    Reply

    Why does a “””non-profit organisation””” need such a convoluted system with so many subsidiaries?

    1. Sigh said on January 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm
      Reply

      Is that a question or a “question”? :P

      The Thunderbird blog post explains that “The move will allow the project to collect revenue through partnerships and non-charitable donations, which in turn can be used to cover the costs of new products and services.” There is a lot to discussion when it comes to how not for profit organizations and charitable and non-charitable donations are regulated, but Mozilla of course has to operate within the currently existing regulations.

  7. Wigglesprocket said on January 29, 2020 at 1:20 pm
    Reply

    Sounds to me like Mozilla no longer has the vision/ideals to support so many products and it’s easier for them to just focus on one and take less responsibility for their actions.

    I can smell Mozilla’s steady decline.

  8. pd said on January 29, 2020 at 3:20 pm
    Reply

    I would not say this is a “new home”.

    This is an accounting change. Foundations in the jurisdiction that Mozilla legally belongs to cannot create commerclal partnerships. Easy fix? “Oh, Thunderbird’s not part of the Foundation, but a Corporation under the Foundation”.

    A ‘new home’ would be someone like Apache taking over the project.

    This is just another shuffling of the legalese and accounting.

    Mozilla wants Thunderbird to start paying for itself. Can’t make any revenue deals like the Firefox Google deal without this change. That’s all. Barely worth mentioning, let along painting it as a “new home”.

    1. DuMuT6p said on January 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm
      Reply

      This is exactly what I was going to write. I can’t believe so much people here didn’t get it.

      Hopefully this means better development for Thunderbird and financial support for the team instead of just wanting to make profit on the back of open source and power user trust. Which seems like its happening to Firefox.

    2. ULBoom said on January 29, 2020 at 7:40 pm
      Reply

      Exactly! Pretty simple.

      A day or so ago, there was a semi-doom and gloom article regarding charging for extensions, TBird getting more attention by MOOZLE or wtf, who cares, is good news.

  9. mamzlila said on January 29, 2020 at 4:27 pm
    Reply

    on how to find titles to generate clicks

  10. anonymous said on January 29, 2020 at 4:28 pm
    Reply

    Looks like they are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic….

  11. Anonymous said on January 29, 2020 at 5:28 pm
    Reply

    > The team hopes that the move will give the project “more flexibility and agility”, and that it also paves the way for “new products and services that were not possible under the Mozilla Foundation”. The Thunderbird Project may “collect revenue through partnerships and non-charitable donations” which would be used to “over the costs of new products and services”.

    This is a corporate euphemism for “we’re now going to be able to do to Thunderbird users all the evil corrupt greedy stuff that the for-profit nature of MozCorp allowed us to do to Firefox users these last years, and that until now was legally forbidden to do with a non-profit Thunderbird for ethical reasons”.

    To realize this, see how a former Mozilla employee already explained why MozCorp is for-profit:

    “Why have a corporation? There are certain aspects of being a healthy and sustainable community which are legally prohibited by being a nonprofit. For example, Mozilla has a business deal with Google in which Firefox directs search queries to Google by default. It would be legally difficult or impossible to make such a deal directly with a 501(3)(c), and in general, any arrangements where Mozilla had an interest in partnering with a public company that had private shareholders would would be greatly complicated without the existence of Mozilla Corporation as a for profit entity.”

    https://www.quora.com/Why-is-Mozilla-a-non-profit

    And we know how being almost totally dependent on a business deal with the Google devil ended being much worse than just Firefox being financed by selling user search terms to Google: it ended with the browser being effectively sold out to Google and similar vermin, infused with surveillance capitalism mentality in many corners of its design. Welcome ads, tracking, Cliqz-like deals in Thunderbird, just what this software needed !

    We’re soon going to need an ethical fork of Thunderbird just like for Firefox.

    [Editor: please remain polite]

    1. ULBoom said on January 29, 2020 at 10:01 pm
      Reply

      That junk is already in TBird and has been for eons but can be strangled, as in FF, by modifying TBird’s config settings.

  12. Haakon said on January 29, 2020 at 6:44 pm
    Reply

    OK. Now that’s all out of the way, let’s begin posting up about all the world’s misery, ailments, injustice and just plain ol’ evil brought about by the postage stamp.

  13. seeprime said on January 30, 2020 at 7:01 am
    Reply

    I really like Thunderbird. I’ve used it for 15 years and have no plans to move to elsewhere. I just hope they don’t start including huge ads.

  14. michal said on January 30, 2020 at 8:24 am
    Reply

    Comment section here is a mess now. Anti-mozilla trolls, crying at every post regarding FF how bad it. It was not like that 2 or 3 years ago. When I discovered ghacks then, I was amazed about quality of comments, that were not many, but always polite to others, on-subject, giving perspective, additional info. It was pure pleasure to read both an article and comments as well.

    What happened? I have a theory. At some point palemoon users (was my self then) started to aggresively bash anyone who was critical against this browser. Later on, FF power users strangely opposed and whined against multiprocess, webextensions, and mozilla being against privacy/spying users. A lot of BS for me. Now FF is at its best, getting better with every release – faster, leaner, privacy and security oriented, more user friendly. For free, without being evil as google. And yet, comments below every news, analysis on ghacks are so so not pleasant to read. It turns to crap as above – thank you NOT Iron Heart. Even PM guys dont seem to visit it here.

  15. michal said on January 30, 2020 at 8:27 am
    Reply

    And as for TB – its best. If TB devs say this change is for good, then I believe them. They kept TB afloat for years, so you can’t accuse them of ill intentions.

  16. michal said on January 30, 2020 at 8:52 am
    Reply

    Half an hour ago I posted a comment here explaining why I believe the quality of comments on this site detoriated in the last two years. A sincere one, although sad. And a second comment where I expressed my thoughts about Thunderbird organisation change. Both comments appeared, and then were deleted. I wonder where did I breach posting rules, while some ppl above avoided it.

    1. Tom said on January 30, 2020 at 10:46 am
      Reply

      You just have to wait some time for your comments to appear. :)

  17. Wayne said on January 31, 2020 at 7:32 pm
    Reply

    Glad to see @pd has handle on this change, versus @mike, @anonymous and a couple others. I would encourage everyone to reread the announcement https://blog.thunderbird.net/2020/01/thunderbirds-new-home/ and the many questions below the blog post which have been answered by the chair of the Thunderbird Council.

    1. Notice this announcement was made by the Thunderbird team at https://thunderbird.net/. It was not made by the Mozilla Foundation, nor the Mozilla Corporation.

    2. Mozilla CORPORATION’s interest, control and influence ceased many years ago when they handed the product to the community, and encouraged the community to organize to develop and manage the product – which we eventually did.

    3. The community after a significant evaluation intentionally, by its own free choice, aligned itself with the Mozilla FOUNDATION, and they have graciously been the Thunderbird community’s home. The foundation’s interest is it wants the community to succeed and not negatively impact the trademark. But the foundation doesn’t manage Thunderbird. THIS IS A COMMUNITY LED TEAM, self funded and financially in the black, which via the volunteer council directs overall strategy, the use of funds, hires, etc. The change to a corporation under the foundation is a natural evolution doesn’t change the basic model.

    4. The main legal and financial benefits we sought, and get, are: a) “back office” stuff – we get direct control over our money whereas under the foundation donations flowed through the foundation – which helps with flexibility and speed of execution, b) as stated in the announcement we can do things in a corporation that we cannot legally do in a foundation, like partnerships.

    5. The fact that the community and council now have the ability to do things we couldn’t do previously doesn’t mean we are going to drastically change the overall model or change the community that has been painstakingly built for the past five plus years. Thunderbird will remain open source, free to the public. As per the announcement, “Thunderbird’s focus isn’t going to change.”

  18. Stan said on February 2, 2020 at 3:42 pm
    Reply

    Rather than handing over cash to like minded loons, perhaps MozCo could hand over some to the unappreciated REAL members of the ‘Community’.
    The go-to place for all things Thunderbird has always been Mozillazine where Mods and members have provided excellent support for years..just sayin’.
    Good luck guys and gals :)

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