Ben Goodger, the lead engineer for Mozilla Firefox, and Darin Fisher, another Firefox developer, announced this week on their personal blogs that they'd be making the jump to the search giant.
The acquisition of the two browser developers ignited speculation on the Web that Google was planning to release its own browser, with Google watchers citing the hiring of the two developers and Google's registration of the "gbrowser.com" domain last year.
Fisher, who owns a piece of the Firefox source code and is a former employee of IBM and Netscape, was in charge of cookies and permissions for the foundation's free browser. Goodger served as the lead programmer for the browser. Both men will join Google's engineering department. Goodger signed on with Google Jan. 10, and announced his move on Monday, while Fisher announced his move on Tuesday.
Both developers said on their blogs that they plan to continue to be active in the Mozilla Foundation. "My role with Firefox and the Mozilla project will remain largely unchanged, I will continue doing much the same work as I have described above--with the new goal of successful 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0 releases," Goodger wrote. "I remain devoted full-time to the advancement of Firefox, the Mozilla platform and Web browsing in general."
Mozilla's Firefox was released in November 2004 and touted by such media outlets as Forbes.com and The Wall Street Journal. Firefox has become one of the most-used open source applications on the Web, and is seen by some as an alternative to Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer.
According to a study by Adtech AG, a user of Internet Explorer is four times more likely to click on an ad than a Firefox user, suggesting that any similar features in a Google-based browser could have significant implications for online advertisers.
Google spokesman Steven Langdon declined to comment on what the pair would be doing for the company, and on whether a Google browser was in the works. "Many of Google's products aim to enhance the browsing experience," Langdon said. "We do not comment on speculation on product development."