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John Lilly will step down as CEO of Mozilla Corporation after just two years on the job, the company confirmed today after a report by BoomTown. Mozilla is carefully calling the move as a “planned leadership transition,” saying Lilly had always wanted to be a VC.

John Lilly will step down as CEO of Mozilla Corporation after just two years on the job, the company confirmed today after a report by Kara Swisher at BoomTown. Lilly is to be a venture partner at Greylock Partners while remaining on Mozilla’s board of directors.

Mozilla is carefully calling the move a “planned leadership transition,” saying Lilly had always wanted to move to the VC world. In a blog post, Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker (who had the CEO gig before Lilly) wrote:

The timing of this announcement — just as we begin a formal search for a new CEO — is to make this process more open than is generally the case and is a reflection of the uniqueness of Mozilla as a public benefit organization dedicated to openness and participation in Internet life.

Lilly wrote on his own blog that he would leave Mozilla later this year after a replacement is found.

Mozilla has been in, not exactly a holding pattern for the last two years, but — let’s just say its new product releases haven’t been particularly snappy. Exhibit A is Fennec, the company’s long-gestating mobile browser. Mozilla now measures its web browser Firefox at 30 percent global market share, and it laid out a vision yesterday for Firefox 4, its next major release.

The company’s long-championed HTML 5 is now firmly gliding toward the mainstream, but that’s mainly due to other key players like Apple and Google pushing it so hard. Google, which has long been a key financial backer of Firefox, now challenges it directly with Chrome and is expected to open-source the VP8 video codec as soon as next week at its developer conference, which would displace the HTML 5 video codec Mozilla has been funding, Ogg Theora.

Here’s a video interview Om did with Lilly shortly after he took the CEO gig in 2008:

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  1. [...] that Mozilla has problems that go beyond the pending loss of their chief executive, John Lilly to a venture capital firm. And no one can deny that so far Mozilla has blown the opportunity to have an impact on the mobile [...]

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  2. [...] Corporation, which makes the Firefox browser, has named its next CEO: Gary Kovacs. This was a planned transition — current CEO John Lilly is leaving to become a VC at Greylock Partners — but perhaps [...]

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