Updated – David Bienvenu leaving Mozilla. Thunderbird in trouble?

David Bienvenu, the other only full time Thunderbird developer has also announced he will be leaving the Mozilla Corporation next Friday.

Just wanted to let everyone know that my last day at The Mozilla Corporation will be Oct. 12. I intend to stay involved with Thunderbird and to continue on as a module owner. I’ve enjoyed working at Mozilla a lot, and I wish Mozilla Co and the new Mail Co all the best.

The post comes just a couple of days after Scott McGregor’s own leaving message also stating he intends to continues as a volunteer module owner.

This is open source so I think it’s unlikely that their leave will signal the end for Thunderbird as a project by itself. But it will certainly have consequences, the least of them a delay in the creation and organization of the recently announced Internet communications subsidiary (nicknamed MailCo).

But most significantly their leave could be interpreted as disagreement with the spin off decision, which coming from Thunderbird’s top engineers is already raising some eyebrows on whether the chosen path was the correct one.

This of course is and will remain pure speculation until David and Scott share some more details on their decision, and speculation will harm the project more than any actual reason or their very own leave. I am also surprised that neither Mitchell nor David Ascher, CEO of the nascent subsidiary have commented so far on these events, but they could as well help dissipate some of the doubts rising around.

Again, this is an opportunity to thank David for his contributions to Thunderbird and hope he will be able to keep working closely with the Thunderbird team and help it in the transition to the new organization.

Update: David Ascher has commented on his blog:

My understanding from chats with them weeks ago (I hope I’m not divulging anything that I shouldn’t) is that they have decided to start a new venture. They’ve worked on Thunderbird and its predecessors within Mozilla and Nestcape for a long time, and I can certainly understand their desire to do something different. After all, I’m doing something different myself. At the same time, I know from talking to Scott and David that they care very deeply about Thunderbird, and I look forward to working with them in the future.

His Open Letter to the Thunderbird community goes on with some details on the plans for building a strong Thunderbird community.

10 Comments

  1. David Naylor October 6, 2007 4:54 am 

    This is very sad news. Both leaving messages are so short that something has to be wrong. If nothing were wrong they would surely have said so and explained a bit more.

  2. Daniel October 6, 2007 8:01 am 

    Yep. To leave without some kind of explanation is not a good sign.

  3. Ivan Ičin October 6, 2007 12:00 pm 

    It is likely that it has something to do with recent happenings, but I am more on the fact that they were not satisfied with new CEO than that they are not satisfied with spinoff…

  4. Colin October 6, 2007 5:23 pm 

    Personally, I don’t think spinning Thunderbird is a good idea and these resignations do nothing to dispel that impression.

    Thunderbird has become really useful to me, particularly now that I can embed my Google Calendar in Thunderbird. I can access Google away from the Office, but not Outlook – but as Google is synced to my Outlook calendar I am now well organised for the first time ever.
    I’ve even downloaded Sunbird to a U3 key, for the off-line ability and it is all working well.
    However, the uncertainty now surrounding Thunderbird is worrying me, and I feel it is threatening the future of Thunderbird. Please, Mozilla get your act together and get Thunderbird a secure future with appropriate development opportunity, pronto.

  5. Al Billings October 8, 2007 1:50 am 

    Mozilla does have its act together. What do you think the announcement of MailCo was? If certain people don’t want to participate in it (especially after calling for a new company in the first place) that’s their choice. That doesn’t change the fact that the Mozilla Foundation is putting millions of dollars into the new company and has recruited a CEO for it.

  6. worzie October 15, 2007 10:48 am 

    When key devs leave over decisions like this, you must re-think your decisions. Of course spinning off is a mistake! Didn’t you consult with them prior paying your CEO’s? Try paying your devs more next time instead of killing a project!

  7. David Russell October 15, 2007 3:47 pm 

    Damn, looks like I have to find a new mail client. Mozilla can pump as many million dollars into the Thunderbird spinoff as they like, but without its main developers the project will struggle. Does anyone know if the Windows port of Evolution is in a useable state?

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