The Mozilla Foundation was launched on July 15, 2003 as America Online (AOL) drastically scaled back its involvement with Mozilla, laying off or reassigning most of the Netscape browser developers and announcing that it would no longer finance the day to day running of the project. The Mozilla Foundation essentially replaces mozilla.org (also known as the Mozilla Organization), a much looser and more informal group that was established as an autonomous division of Netscape in 1998. AOL assisted in the initial creation of the Mozilla Foundation, transferring hardware and intellectual property to the organization and employing a three-person team for the first three month's of its existence to help with the transition. AOL has also promised to donate $2 million to the foundation over two years.
The remit of the Mozilla Foundation is much wider than that of mozilla.org, with the organization taking on many tasks that were traditionally left to Netscape and other vendors of Mozilla technology. As part of a wider move to target end-users, the foundaion made deals with commercial companies to sell CDs containing Mozilla software and provide telephone support. In both cases, the group chose the same suppliers as Netscape for these services. The Mozilla Foundation is also becoming more assertive over its intellectual property, with policies put in place for the use of Mozilla trademarks and logos. New projects such as marketing have also been launched.
Funding for the foundation comes from donations from corporations and individuals. As well as AOL's initial $2 million donation, Mitch Kapor gave $300,000 to the organization at its launch. The group is still seeking tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)3 of the US tax code. Until then, tax-deductible donations can be made through an arrangement with the Open Source Applications Foundation.
The Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors consists of Mitch Kapor (Chair), Mitchell Baker (President), Brian Behlendorf, Brendan Eich and Chris Blizzard. The foundation has ten employees, all of whom have previously worked for Netscape: Mitchell Baker, David Baron, Asa Dotzler, Brendan Eich, Ben Goodger, Chris Hofmann, Scott MacGregor, Myk Melez, Daniel "leaf" Nunes and Johnny Stenback. The employees develop Mozilla and help to coordinate the operations of the organization. The committee than runs the Mozilla Foundation is known as mozilla.org staff and is made up of a mixture of foundation employees and volunteers.