Monday, May 29, 2006

Mozilla's Millions of Dollars

Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla, was recently interviewed by the Telegraph, and she talked about how Mozilla is dealing with their millions of dollars in revenue. Mozilla is not trying to hide the fact that they are profitable; although, the exact figure is still unknown. Mozilla is reported to have revenue in the tens of millions of dollars, but slightly less than the $72 million rumor from March. Much of this revenue comes from their search partner, Google, who pays about 80% of the ad revenue generated from user searches back to Mozilla.

The fact that Mozilla is making money really irritates some people within the open source community who see Mozilla as a sell out who might become more focused on bringing in buckets of money instead of focusing on open source. This type of thinking is really unfortunate. Mozilla has done a fantastic job with Firefox, and we should give them the benefit of the doubt that the money earned will be well spent. In the Telegraph interview, Baker said that the money would be spent on product improvements, building their infrastructure, strengthening Mozilla's ties with developers, and a rainy day fund. The reality is that Mozilla is still trying to figure out exactly how this money should be spent. This is also a good sign. An organization should take some time to plan how to best use their resources. A less mature and less responsible organization might have spent the money as it came in with little thought put into how the money can best benefit the organization.

Firefox has been growing at an incredible rate and is becoming a worthy competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Keeping up with a growth curve of this magnitude will be difficult for Mozilla, and having some money to support it may help.

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