Mozilla CEO John Lilly Stepping Down

Time for a new leader over at Mozilla, the company most known for its Firefox web browser. Sources tipped off Kara Swisher of AllThingsD letting her know that John Lilly will be resigning as CEO of the browsing powerhouse for another position at venture firm, Greylock.

The search for a replacement is already on, and although they would like to just find the right guy and make the swap, it’s more likely that there will be a gradual transition between Lilly and whomever is to replace him.

Lilly leaves on good terms, and will remain on Mozilla’s board. Mozilla’s Firefox browser has been growing ever since it debuted in 2004. Recent numbers put the browser’s popularity at a little over 24% of total Internet browsing.

Mashable just got ahold of the letter Lilly sent out to Mozilla employees today:

Everyone,

As my five year anniversary at Mozilla approaches, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move on to my next role sometime later this year. This won’t happen today or tomorrow–I expect to be here and working for several months yet, and I’m planning to stay on the Board of Directors.

This is a tough note for me to write–I feel so incredibly lucky and humbled to have worked on such an amazing project, with such spectacular people, for the last few years.

But 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. 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.

I’m in no rush, and the most important thing to me is to build the strongest Mozilla we can, with the best leadership possible. So my plan is to stay through that transition–we’re starting a CEO search now, and plan to do it in as transparent a way as possible–which means I’ll continue in my CEO role as normal for several more months, at least.

I’ll have more to say on the transition as we figure things out more clearly, but for now, business as usual. We’ve got Firefox 4 to ship, and Firefox on multiple mobile platforms. We’ve got our web services like Weave to stand up and make available to millions of users.

For now, though, I really want to communicate a deep gratitude to each of you — over the past few years we’ve done an amazing amount together, and changed the world in so many meaningful ways. 400 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. There are many more contributions and victories to come.

John

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