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.

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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