Mozilla CEO John Lilly Leaving For Venture Capital Job

Firefox Web browser

Lilly, who has been at Mozilla for five years and served as CEO for more than two, will remain on Mozilla’s board of directors, he said in a blog post Tuesday.

“I’ve always been a startup guy at heart — Mozilla was originally going to be a quick volunteer effort for me, but quickly turned into a full time job, and at the beginning of 2008 turned into the CEO job that I have now,” Lily said in a note to Mozilla employees that he repeated in his blog.

“I’ve really been missing working with startups, and want to learn how to invest in and build great new startups, so am planning to join Greylock Partners as a Venture Partner once we transition here,” he wrote.

Lilly joined Mozilla in 2005 and was promoted from chief operating officer to CEO in January 2008 when then-CEO Mitchell Baker became chairman of Mozilla’s board.

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Firefox is the number-two Web browser, accounting for nearly 32 percent of all Internet usage, according to numbers from Web analytics firm StatCounter. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, while remaining the leading Web browser with a usage share of almost 53 percent, has been slowly losing ground to FireFox, Google’s Chrome and other browsers.

“[Four hundred] million users are directly touched every day by the work we’ve done so far, and many, many more are using better browsers because of our work,” Lilly said in his note to Mozilla employees. “There are many more contributions and victories to come.”

Lilly noted that Mozilla is currently developing Firefox 4, now expected in early 2011, and is creating versions of the browser to run on multiple mobile platforms.

In addition to Firefox, the non-profit Mozilla organization develops the Thunderbird e-mail client application and Lightning calendaring/scheduling application, among other projects.