$2MM in browser severance pay?

American Online and mozilla.org today announced AOL’s donation of $2MM to create The Mozilla Foundation, a group to promote.”.. the development, distribution and adoption of the award-winning Mozilla standards-based web applications and core technologies, including the Gecko browser layout engine…AOL will also contribute additional resources through equipment, domain names and trademarks, and related intellectual property, as well as providing some transitional assistance for key personnel as they move into the new organization.”
New home page for foundation is here.
Susan’s comment from the cynic’s view: This is the equivalent of paying severance to a movement, instead of an individual, and reminescent of pinning a note, with a nice fat check, onto your child’s coat lapel before putting him on the night bus to anywhere. “Take care of little Johnny, we love him a lot and here’s $500 to pay for his keep for the next few years….”
Susan’s comment on the sunny side” Isn’t it nice AOL cared enough to set the technies up with a cash stash so they could hired as many of the laid-off folks as they deemed fit to carry out their mission?”
Both equally true–there is nothing surprising or new about the fact Netscape.com has become strategically less and less important to AOL over the past 2 years, and that the browser and the underlying technologies were a disappointment to many Dulles execs. Given the tight cash flow issues and the continuing march to cut costs, this all has been coming for a while.
Wild question of the moment: Who’s playing the ad sales game in a way where they would want to buy Netscape to add to their traffic?

Dan Gillmor
on Netscape today in the Merc: “AOL’s financial commitment is also crucial, and deserves credit. It might have just torpedoed the project entirely — though the Mozilla project has attracted a legion of developers. Most contribute their time and expertise, but at least a few are being paid by large companies, such as IBM and Sun Microsystems, to help out.”