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Paying for Firefox

Mozilla Corp laid off a quarter of its staff and promptly announced a new search deal with Google. Odd timing, given Mozilla has historically received over 90% of its funding from Google.

I work for an organisation that gets a similarly large proportion of its funding from one place. Worryingly for Mozilla, it’s even more reliant on its main competitor’s largesse than libraries are on funding from Suffolk County Council. And we provide a statutory service — libraries will exist in some form or other even if Suffolk Libraries as an entity doesn’t.

I’ve always been slightly baffled by Mozilla’s expenditurewhich is pretty much the same as its income (png image — graph showing Mozilla’s expenditure as a percentage of its income over 15 years). I do understand that good design and engineering costs, and it needs to be marketed and supported. But spending around $450m a year seems an awful lot, considering what its users – and its main customer – get, which is really one product with a single digit market share. I guess providing a Silicon Valley environment to do this work in isn’t cheap.

I’m not sure what this means for the future. Ultimately, the good Mozilla currently does amounts to providing an independent, non-commercial browser, and its grant funding and advocacy. Both are important, but presumably can’t rely on Google’s funding, nor on spending nearly half a billion dollars a year.