AOL has laid off the last 50 employees of its Netscape web browser division, among whom was Aucklander Ben Goodger, who moved to California in May.
Goodger has been employed by Netscape since 1999, initially working from home while studying at Auckland University. He expects to finish at the company on August 31.
Netscape is often credited as the company that kick-started the world wide web. It was a darling of the high-tech stock bubble but gradually lost market share to Microsoft during the so-called “browser wars” of the 1990s.
Netscape, bought by AOL in 1998, decided to make its browser open source, but in the years it has taken to get the resultant Mozilla in a position to compete with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the Microsoft browser has become the de facto standard client on most desktops. Last month AOL and Microsoft struck a deal to cooperate on software distribution and digital media, with AOL having the right to use IE in its offerings.
Ben Goodger told Computerworld in 2001 that he became involved in browser development when he discovered the Mozilla project.
“I would take dialogues, tidy them up, take screen shots and post them. People seemed to like what I had done. Around mid-1999 I was contacted and asked if I was interested in a job doing that stuff for them [Netscape] in the US.”
Despite the extinction of the Netscape browser division, Mozilla development looks set to continue. The creation of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation was announced just hours before news of Netscape layoffs.
Among those continuing to work on the browser, it seems, is Goodger. “I’ll definitely remain involved in Mozilla stuff,” he wrote on the ex-mozilla.org website.