Sources: Mozilla extends its Google search deal

Google to remain default search engine in Firefox for the next three years.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Image: ZDNet

Mozilla and Google have extended their current search deal for another three years, multiple sources have told ZDNet.

The new search deal will ensure Google remains the default search engine provider inside the Firefox browser until 2023 at an estimated price tag of around $400 million to $450 million per year.

Mozilla officials are expected to announce the search deal's extension later this fall, in November, when the organization is scheduled to disclose its 2019 financial figures.

Terms of the new deal were leaked to this reporter after Mozilla announced plans to lay off more than 250 employees on Wednesday in a move that had many users fearing for the browser maker's future, as Mozilla's current Google search deal was scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

However, several sources have confirmed that the organization is financially sound, and the layoffs were part of a restructuring of its core business, with Mozilla moving away from its current role of internet standards steward and experimental approach to its product catalog to more commercially viable offerings that generate revenues on their own.

Mozilla's long-term plan is to build its own revenue streams from subscription-based services and reduce its dependence on the Google search deal, which has historically accounted for between 75% and 95% of the organization's entire yearly budget as far back as 2006 when the two companies began collaborating (with a hiatus between 2014 and 2017, when Mozilla signed a similar agreement with Yahoo).

Yesterday's layoffs reflect this plan, with Mozilla shuttering its threat management security team, software engineers working on Mozilla's experimental Servo browser engine, developers curating the Mozilla Developer Network portal, and the team behind Firefox's developer tools. Sources have described the layoffs as over-staffing in areas the organization was not planning to prioritize going forward.

Work on open standards and protocols will take a backseat to commercialization efforts in the short-term, but Mozilla doesn't plan to phase out its work in the web development community completely and will most likely come back to its role of web custodian once its subscription-based services ensure long-term business survivability.

Current plans include shoring up and expanding its recently launched VPN service and, maybe, dipping its toes into acquiring new tech ventures that could be seamlessly integrated into its product catalog as self-standing revenue-generating streams.

Reached out for comment, a Mozilla spokesperson said the organization had nothing to comment at this point; however, in a response post-publication, Mozilla confirmed our report and provided the following statement:

"Mozilla's search partnership with Google is ongoing, with Google as the default search provider in the Firefox browser in many places around the world. We've recently extended the partnership, and the relationship isn't changing."

This article was updated at 20:05 ET with a statement from Mozilla.

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