[A correction was made to this article: Mozilla Corporation is responsible for the development of the Web browser Firefox, but the email client Thunderbird.]
Mozilla announced Thursday afternoon that SAP executive Gary Kovacs will be replacing John Lilly as CEO of the corporation that makes the Web browser Firefox, one of the most widely-used open-source applications.
Lilly announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down from his position at Mozilla to turn his attention to the startup world by joining Greylock Partners. Writing about the news on his personal blog, the former CEO had this to say about CEO hunting and the selected candidate:
This introduction is the culmination of a search process that’s taken us about six months — we were quite broad in our search, as we knew it would be tough to find someone who could blend technology leadership and operational excellence with an ability to understand what’s special about how Mozilla works, and who could really help develop the whole organization.
[Kovacs has a] deep background in the battlefields that will define the future of the Open Web: mobile and rich media, and he’s been involved in building great organizations several times over.
Kovac’s experience includes vice presidential roles at Macromedia from 2003 to 2006 and at Adobe between 2006 and 2008. Most recently, the new Mozilla CEO has held two SVP roles at SAP, first in marketing and then in mobile.
As Lilly rightly noted above, mobile is rapidly becoming a vital force in the future of the Web and, though he didn’t mention this, Mozilla’s mobile offerings have thus far been relatively weak. Mozilla for mobile (codenamed Fennec) is so far only available (in stable form) on Maemo, a not very well-known Linux-based operating system for Nokia smartphones and tablets. As for Android and Windows Mobile, they have to deal with beta and alpha releases of Fennec for now.
Mozilla has zero plans to develop a browser for the iPhone, something that probably makes Apple very happy. (Though there’s always that bookmark syncing application.)
For anyone interested in learning more about the new CEO, Mozilla Foundation Chairperson and former Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker will be hosting a community Q&A tomorrow at 10am PT.