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 (s AAPL) and Google (s GOOG) 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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