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Mozilla names SAP's mobility man as CEO

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SAP is turning into an unexpected mine of talent for Silicon Valley employers if Mozilla's latest hire is to be believed.

Weeks after HP picked former SAP chief Léo Apotheker as its replacement for Mark Hurd, Mozilla has named SAP's vice president of mobile Gary Kovacs as its CEO.

Kovacs will start work on November 8, and is taking over from John Lilly who said five months ago that he was leaving Firefox's maker to join venture-capitalist firm Greylock Partners.

Lilly blogged that Kovacs is the right person to take over because of his experience in web and rich media, mobile, and running large organizations.

Although he joins from ERP giant SAP, Kovacs is no Apotheker-style enterprise blueblood, so Lilly's justification does stack up. Kovacs only joined SAP through its head-scratching $5.8bn acquisition of Sybase in May. Apotheker joined SAP in 1988, but was solo CEO for just nine months before, ahem, his contract was not renewed.

Kovacs' background is solid mobility, web, and application development and — yes — there's the operational stuff. Before SAP he was senior vice president of markets, solutions, and products for Sybase, which he joined in April 2009 from Adobe Systems where Kovacs had been general manager for mobile.

He joined Adobe through that company's purchase of tools, content, and interface specialist Macromedia where he'd been vice president of product marketing and developers.

Kovacs ran his own company, Zi Corporation, which specialized in embedded software and services for mobile, and spent 10 years at IBM in different product management, sales, and operations.

Lilly said of Kovacs here: "He's got deep background in the battlefields that will define the future of the Open Web: mobile and rich media, and he's been involved in building great organizations several times over." ®

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