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Exodus of Netscape execs

More senior executives are planning to leave Netscape in the wake of its buyout by AOL, including those who were instrumental in building the Net pioneer.

More senior executives are planning to leave Netscape Communications in the wake of its buyout by America Online, including those who were instrumental in building the Internet pioneer.

Senior vice president Mike Homer, the architect of the Netcenter Web portal, is planning to take a sabbatical, and some insiders say it is likely he may not return. Homer previously held the title of executive vice president.

A Netscape spokeswoman confirmed See special coverage: AOL to buy Netscape that Homer will take a leave of absence this summer but said he is planning to stay with AOL. Homer's sabbatical comes at a critical juncture for the combined companies; their merger was completed only last month. A spokeswoman said Homer is taking a sabbatical, typically six to eight weeks, to spend time with his family, adding that his wife is expecting their first child.

Peter Harter, Netscape's global public policy counsel, left the company on Friday. Jennifer Bailey, the company's senior vice president of business development, also is planning to leave by this summer, sources said. Bailey and Homer have worked closely together in previous companies. One source predicted more resignations at Netcenter.

The sources added that they expect Netscape general counsel Roberta Katz and chief administrative officer Peter Currie to resign later this year as well.

Netscape chief executive Jim Barksdale already has left Netscape. Sources said Barry Schuler, president of AOL's Interactive Services Group, occupies that office when he is on the West Coast.

The list of so-called Netescapees is growing longer. As reported, longtime Netscape client engineer and Mozilla.org pioneer and evangelist Jamie Zawinski handed in his resignation on April 1.

A Web site has been launched dubbed ex-Mozilla.org that lists all the workers that have left Netscape, many since the buyout.

A Netscape spokeswoman downplayed the latest planned departures. She added that "more than 90 percent of those who received offer letters from AOL took them," including cofounder Marc Andreessen.

News.com's Jeff Pelline contributed to this report.