The people behind the Mozilla open-source project have created the Mozilla Foundation, which is funded by America Online (AOL) and will build, support and promote Mozilla products.
AOL has pledged $2m in cash to the non-profit foundation, to be paid over two years, said Christopher Blizzard, a Mozilla Foundation board member.
AOL's money, together with other donations, will be used to pay about 10 software developers and other foundation expenses.
"We have always wanted to create some sort of legal entity to represent Mozilla," said Blizzard. "It is convenient to do it now, mostly because AOL wanted to provide funding."
The Mozilla Foundation will put more focus on making the Mozilla browser and e-mail client more end-user friendly.
"We have always been a technology clearing house and we did not care about people who use our products. We will now provide help and focus on end users," he said.
As part of the funding deal with AOL, several Mozilla developers at AOL will move to the foundation, Blizzard said.
There is a "transition team" at AOL to help these developers move over. AOL will also give the foundation equipment, domain names and trade marks associated with Mozilla.
AOL will still use Mozilla technology and keep some people who work on Mozilla.
Mozilla started in early 1998 by Netscape Communications, which AOL acquired later that year. AOL has supported Mozilla development since then.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service