Mozilla banks Google bucks; Builds a portfolio

Mozilla banks Google bucks; Builds a portfolio

Summary: Mozilla has released its 2006 audited financials and that little Google search box in the top right of Firefox is the gift that keeps giving.Mozilla's revenue, which includes Mozilla's foundation and corporation, came in at $66.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Mozilla has released its 2006 audited financials and that little Google search box in the top right of Firefox is the gift that keeps giving.

Mozilla's revenue, which includes Mozilla's foundation and corporation, came in at $66.8 million in 2006. That's up from $52.9 million in 2005.

Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla, wrote in a blog:

"As in 2005 the vast majority of this revenue is associated with the search functionality in Mozilla Firefox, and the majority of that is from Google. The Firefox user base and search revenue have both increased from 2005. Search revenue increased at a lesser rate than Firefox usage growth as the rate of payment declines with volume. Other revenue sources were the Mozilla Store, public support and interest and other income on our assets."

It doesn't take a big leap to conclude Google is bankrolling Mozilla. In a footnote (see PDF), Mozilla notes the Google risk. Mozilla gets 85 percent of its revenue from Google. The latest Mozilla-Google contract expires in November 2008.

Mozilla's financial statement really puts the browser battle into perspective. It's not Firefox vs. IE as much as it is Google vs. Microsoft. Given Mozilla's reliance on Google I wonder if the search giant would ever bring the project into the fold somehow. Would it make sense for Google to acquire Mozilla?

In any case, Mozilla's expenses in 2006 were just shy of $20 million at $19.77 million. The bulk of these expenses were for 90 people working full or part-time on Mozilla. Employees were 70 percent of expenses.

Baker details the hiring plan:

"Of the people Mozilla funds, the largest single group works on the Mozilla "platform." This includes all the underlying technology that individuals don't manipulate directly - networking, layout, understanding content from websites, security, and so on. The work of the platform group supports all Mozilla products and most Mozilla projects. The next largest group is Quality Assurance, which provides formal verification for Firefox and Thunderbird, and informal assistance to other Mozilla projects. Other large groups are the Firefox application group, marketing and outreach, and IT or technical infrastructure. We have small but potent sets of people working on build and release, web tools, our websites (including add-ons), and other functions."

Mozilla also spent some dough on its technical infrastructure, including a data center in Europe.

Baker also highlights Mozilla as an open source project noting all the folks (16,000) that reported bugs, the 1,000 people that contributed code to Firefox 2 and the 65,000 sites that spread Firefox around via referalls.

The big takeaway: Mozilla is a big business and those browser search boxes are valuable. As Baker notes, Mozilla has gone beyond sustainability. Among some of the notable items in Mozilla's 2006 financial statements:

  • Mozilla held $50.8 million in investments, including $12.5 million in common stock, $10.6 million in commercial paper, $7.5 million in money market funds, $4.57 million in government bonds and other assets. At first glance, Mozilla's portfolio is nicely diversified. Here's the chart.

mozilla1.png

  • Mozilla's cash on hand was $13.15 million, down from $36.4 million. The difference? Mozilla took its cash and invested it.

  • Mozilla's software spending was $308,871 in 2006, up from $30,120 a year earlier. Mozilla spent $1.57 million on computer gear, up from $884,299 in 2005.

Topic: Browser

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33 comments
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  • This is why

    Firefox 3.0 will be so bloated. It's going to be packed full of Google friendly bloat.
    xuniL_z
    • Unlike IE, if it gets too bloated, or the don't develop what people want,

      it WILL get forked. It IS open source.
      DonnieBoy
      • It has been forked.

        I'm using SeaMonkey right now. :)
        johnay
        • Thanks! Yes, it is already forked! That keeps Mozilla in line, they must

          play fair, and resist the bloat and add the features that people want, as there already forks that keep the pressure on. But, the great thing about the forks is that Mozilla can fold the best ones back into FireFox, OR, they become the main branch even, as when we switched to the Mozilla Suite to FireFox!!!!
          DonnieBoy
        • Don't know

          if I would call it an actual fork, seamonkey is more like the original mozilla/netscape browser, very different from firefox.
          fire was an offshoot of mozilla, seamonkey is pretty much netscape

          I also use seamonkey, and realy don't care for firefox at all.

          Ken.
          merc2dogs`
      • Too late

        Google has it's hooks into it. Too much dependency on that Google cash flow. If Firefox forks away from the Google client, desktop, rails infrastructure...all of that which Google has installed into it, they will lose millions in financial support. <br>
        "open source" doesn't live by volunteers anymore...that was before the projects became decent and focused and the IBMs and Googles and SUNs and so forth of the world started to take the reins.
        xuniL_z
        • FireFox itself was a fork that Mozilla ended up substituting for their

          former product. We understand that you hate how well open source projects work and how they force the vendors to innovate and supply what users want. You would love it if everything was doom and gloom as you try to paint it. We do feel sorry for you though.
          DonnieBoy
    • Google search bar

      All right, that's it, I'm not going to be helping Google achieve its monopoly through Firefox. This is an open-source initiative, and Google is using it to drive ad-powered revenue from search results. And funding 80% of Mozilla. That's pretty wacked. I'm going to be using MSN search, Yahoo and Ask.com from now on.
      cardinal4
    • I like Google....

      Google is one of the best things since sliced bread, Google has given back to the comunity free services etc... (All of it FREE) - compared to MS Google is heaven, why do people complain about Google if they have probably never paid a cent to Google? but received so much.......
      qwerty2468
  • Great to see that Mozilla has the money to keep the heat on Microsoft!!

    This will mean lots more innovations both inside and outside of Microsoft. All good for consumers.
    DonnieBoy
    • Money???

      Right,
      Microsoft has global revenues of 51 billion as of 2007. This means Microsoft made 143,258,426 million in one day. In an eight hour period, they made 47,752,808 million. So I figure it would take Microsoft about nine hours to bankrupt Mozilla in legal fees. The bottom line, Mozilla should be thankful to Microsoft and Google is not longer the "Cinderella" that we all thought!
      RynUK
      • And, that is the problem for Microsoft. A small scrappy group of developers

        with a budget that is a small percentage of Microsoft, can create a much better product, and force Microsoft to play catchup.

        As a matter of fact, the Billions given to Microsoft did NOT give them any incentive to improve the basic browser, but it only took millions invested by Mozilla (with help from volunteers around the world) to force Microsoft do do something for their customers.

        And, even big companies can not just go around willy-nilly suing anybody they want to put out of business by burying in legal fees. That is illegal for any company, and can get monopolies into even bigger trouble. On top of that, all of the FireFox code is open source, and if MS were able to put Mozilla out of business, there would be plenty of people to take over.
        DonnieBoy
        • willy-nilly suing

          Well,
          One problem with your argument, America was built on fraudulent lawsuits. Microsoft would find something and if they choose too they would take Mozilla out. Look at their previous casalties (I.E. Netscape?). Was that justified, a better question may be does it really matter today?
          RynUK
      • $51B? Yikes, that's a whole lotta bilkage!

        Some of it, your tax dollars.

        But still, please do not confuse gross revenue with net profit.

        :o)
        Jack-Booted EULA
  • Just what we need, Googlezilla.

    Don't like the corporate shenanigans of IE, you can go to the corporate shenanigan's of Google. That is why I do not use Firefox with a Google centric way of doing things. I use SeaMonkey which includes a e-mail client with more settings in the preferences. I believe back then when they gave up the e-mail client was part of Google's plan so that you use there webmail for ad revenue. Now that Thunderbird is spinning off, my suspicions are confirmed. Now to do something about those dreaded AdBlock plugins Sergei.

    http://www.google-watch.org/

    I still can't figure out how they got overvalued with popup blockers and AdBlock plugins. You would think that the guys on Wall Street are aware of it.
    osreinstall
    • Or, in Japan, "Goojira" (NT)

      :)
      johnay
    • And, you detail so well why it is so important that FireFox is open source.

      Google can not be trusted to do the right thing for users. They can turn into another Microsoft. With FireFox being open source, Google is limited in what they can do.
      DonnieBoy
      • But they can be bribed to do evil.

        They could hijack the Mozilla name and a benovlant fork in the future would have get recognition before it took off, since it would have a different name. They also could put Google IP in it then later claim all base belongs to us. Google is a advertising company, not exactly the types to be the bastion of honesty. $60m is a lot of scratch to persuade perspective.
        osreinstall
        • Still, the source code used to build FireFox is completely open. Compare

          that to IE. Google is very limited in what they can do. There are already forks. Google's strategy is to not try to monopolize the browser or platform.
          DonnieBoy
          • Yes it is. But they can still have their way.

            But Google can still reek havoc. The SeaMonkey fork is the one that has no Google influence. It also is not part of the Mozilla corporation but uses their servers to distribute. I am talking about the official code can get contaminated but the clean forks would not have the Mozilla name. What I am saying is that Google could on a continuous basis keep the official Mozilla name tainted and there is name recognition. Hardly anyone use SeaMonkey but it is better than Firefox for the retail customer.
            osreinstall