After serving as Mozilla's CEO for less than three years, Gary Kovacs will step down from his position later this year. The company made the announcement Wednesday morning in an internal letter acquired by AllThingsD, reporting that Mozilla will begin searching for a replacement immediately. Kovacs will remain on Mozilla's board once he steps down as CEO.
Kovacs joined Mozilla in late 2010 to lead the development and direction of the Firefox Web browser. He was also brought in to sever the company's reliance on the desktop by moving into the mobile operating system arena with the "Boot to Gecko" project which eventually emerged as Firefox OS. He also landed a number of commercial deals including Mozilla's partnership with Samsung to create Servo, a new ARM-based mobile browser engine built from the ground-up using the company's new Rust programming language.
"When I first joined Mozilla in 2010, it was clear that the Web was at a turning point," he told the Mozilla staff in the internal letter. "Competition on desktop was more intense than ever, smartphone adoption was on fire, and new challenges to openness were developing in both areas of these converging worlds. We needed to move faster, pivot hard to mobile, and scale globally. And we needed to change how we operated if we were to lead the Web through these market transitions. It was this challenge that lured me to Mozilla back in 2010, and it was this challenged that kept me engaged ever since."
In addition to replacing Kovacs, the company is currently shuffling around management. Mitchell Baker will take on the role of executive chairman and Brandan Eich will serve as Mozilla CTO and SVP of engineering. Current SVP of products Jay Sullivan has been appointed as COO, and VP of business affairs and general council Harvey Anderson is now SVP of business and legal affairs. Li Gong will now serve as SVP of mobile devices.
"The project today is led by experienced teams, set on a strong foundation financially and operationally, and with a clear path to the future," he said. "It is my confidence in this team that makes this the right time for me to move on to the next phase of my personal journey. I will stay on as an active member of Mozilla’s board of directors — so I am staying within the family to help as much as I can."
Prior to joining Mozilla in late 2010, Kovacs signed on with IBM in 1990 and eventually landed the role of Worldwide Program Director for the software division. After that, he served as President of Zi Corporation from 2000 to 2003, and then became Vice President of Product Marketing at Macromedia in 2003.
After Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005, he moved over to the role of Vice President and General Manager of Product Management and Marketing for Adobe’s mobile and devices division, and then General Manager of the entire division in 2008. Between 2009 and 2010 he served as Senior Vice President of Markets, Solutions, and Products at Sybase.
Kovacs will talk more about the Firefox OS project and the current changes taking place within Mozilla next week during the D: Dive Into Mobile conference in New York. In the meantime, the full memo distributed to the Mozilla staff can be read here.