Google Deal Should Keep Mozilla Afloat for Years

Mozilla has extended its search deal with Google for five years and will receive over $400 million each year for keeping Google as the default search engine in Firefox.

“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,” a Mozilla statement notes. “We’ve recently extended the partnership, and the relationship isn’t changing.”

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Mozilla first confirmed the extension to The Register, which noted that it came just as the browser company was announcing massive layoffs and its plans to move forward as a smaller company. The publication says that Mozilla will earn between $400 million and $450 million each year through 2023 from the agreement, which ensures that Google will be the default search service in Firefox. Mozilla apparently earns over 90 percent of its revenues from this kind of deal.

The Register has some other interesting data about Mozilla, too: When this non-profit had a headcount of 1000 employees in 2018, its staffing costs were $286 million per year, or $286,000 per person. But with a vastly reduced headcount today, the Google search deal alone should float the company while it tries to improve Firefox and its other products to be more competitive. (Obviously, there are other costs associated with running a company such as Mozilla.)

“The role reduction and restructuring Mozilla just announced allowed us to adjust our finances to ensure stability over the long term, strengthening our ability to build and invest in products and services that will give people alternatives to conventional Big Tech,” Mozilla confirmed.

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Conversation 25 comments

  • oscar999

    14 August, 2020 - 1:40 pm

    <p>A good way for Google to keep regulators at bay.</p>

    • ngc224

      14 August, 2020 - 2:15 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561630">In reply to oscar999:</a></em></blockquote><p>I was thinking the same thing. Like when Microsoft prevented Apple from going under in 1997.</p>

    • aretzios

      14 August, 2020 - 4:50 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561630">In reply to oscar999:</a></em></blockquote><p>How's that? If Google is the default search engine in Firefox, Google is simply extending its reach. The only gain here is that there is going to be more competition in the browser space which is not something that Google worries about (as Microsoft is providing enough competition).</p><p><br></p><p>I think that this has more to do with getting some good will all around and fewer opponents submitting amicus court filings in any case against Google. I like it because Firefox is my default browser!</p>

  • GCalais

    Premium Member
    14 August, 2020 - 2:05 pm

    <p>So why the layoffs? I don’t know, if I had just been fired from Mozilla because they are sinking financially and then a few days later their Google deal is confirmed extended… that would leave a bitter taste in mouth I think. </p>

    • rmlounsbury

      Premium Member
      14 August, 2020 - 6:17 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561636">In reply to GCalais:</a></em></blockquote><p>Based on the statement it sounds like Mozilla knew the Google deal was coming but shed jobs to reduce costs and re-org their key business units. So it seems those layoffs where coming no matter what.</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      15 August, 2020 - 2:31 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561636">In reply to GCalais:</a></em></blockquote><p>This isn't extra income, it is keeping an existing income source. The job cuts are part of a reorganisation to concetrate on key services.</p>

  • jchampeau

    Premium Member
    14 August, 2020 - 2:12 pm

    <p>This reminds me of Microsoft investing in Apple in 1997 just to keep them alive.</p>

    • GT Tecolotecreek

      14 August, 2020 - 3:03 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#561637"><em>In reply to jchampeau:</em></a></blockquote><blockquote>Better check your facts. The deal was to end all outstanding patent litigation, including allowing patents to be cross licensed and make IE one of the default browsers on the Mac. Apple got cash and a commitment MS would continue to develop Office for the Mac. </blockquote>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      15 August, 2020 - 9:34 am

      Yeah, it’s very similar. While under antitrust scrutiny, prop up a badly wounded enemy and then point to them as proof that competition exists.

  • igor engelen

    14 August, 2020 - 5:11 pm

    <p>I must admit that I haven't checked anything from Mozilla recently. Are they still doing something exiting?</p><p>At some point they had this great firefox feature that I think was called panorama, groups of tabs and then after a while they decided to drop it because nobody used it.</p><p>That's when they lost me.</p>

  • Pierre Masse

    14 August, 2020 - 8:06 pm

    <p>$286,000 per person probably means 90% of the employees making $50,000 or less and the rest going to the management.</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      15 August, 2020 - 2:29 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561709">In reply to Pierre Masse:</a></em></blockquote><p>The CEO is taking a salary cut this year, so they won't be getting the full $2.5 million they would have otherwise received.</p>

      • Pierre Masse

        15 August, 2020 - 6:10 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#561731">In reply to wright_is:</a></em></blockquote><p>That won't change his ratio burgers/year.</p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      15 August, 2020 - 2:29 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561709">In reply to Pierre Masse:</a></em></blockquote><p>Remember that includes not just the persons salary, but their benefits and taxes as well. Here in the US that means things like health care, unemployment taxes, 401k, etc.</p>

  • drmdub

    14 August, 2020 - 8:44 pm

    <p>Wait, wait wait. Mozilla is paying people nearly 300k a year? I mean that's probably not equally divided, the CEO probably makes a ton more, but still. Let's say the average is half that, holy hell. No wonder the project is in trouble. Why instead of laying off people, didn't they ask people to take pay cuts, because if this is true then they are all way over paid. Just a cursory Google tells me the average software developer earns between 52k and 120k. If Mozilla is paying more than that, why? I mean these people are awesome, I'm sure, but this is an Open Source project. Why are they not more frugal with their money? </p><p><br></p><p>I have to be missing something. </p>

    • timothy_frisby

      14 August, 2020 - 10:30 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561711">In reply to drmdub:</a></em></blockquote><p>I think your Google numbers are a severe underestimate. Maybe that's global average including offshore jobs, but software engineer salaries start at closer to 100-120k in the Bay Area and it goes up from there.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      15 August, 2020 - 9:17 am

      Assume that cost includes health care, retirement funding, etc.

      • drmdub

        15 August, 2020 - 11:32 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#561765">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p>That makes more sense. </p>

    • palmpre

      18 August, 2020 - 1:00 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#561711">In reply to drmdub:</a></em></blockquote><p>Sounds like the number they have is the "burdened" cost. When I was estimating projects, the rule of thumb was 2.5x the person's salary. In addition to benefits like healthcare, the cost included the person's office, building, computers, servers used, HR and payroll personnel, etc. It adds up.</p>

  • minke

    15 August, 2020 - 9:43 am

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">"Why instead of laying off people, didn't they ask people to take pay cuts, because if this is true then they are all way over paid.&nbsp;" That is even more demoralizing to your staff than laying people off. It is a great way to make everyone mad, and a guarantee they will all start shopping around for better jobs. While they are still hanging around, productivity disintegrates, and there is always the possibility of sabotage. I have never seen pay cuts work out well.</span></p>

  • chump2010

    15 August, 2020 - 10:38 am

    <p>Figures can be pulled from the mozilla 2018 statement located here:</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p></p><p><br></p><p>All their public records are linked here:</p><p><br></p><p></p><p><br></p><p>From some of those documents, you can see that they spend about 82 million on management, and 202 million on other salaries (page 7 of the 2018 financial statements).</p>

  • jlmerrill

    15 August, 2020 - 11:10 pm

    <p>IMHO I don't think Firefox is long to live. They now only have what, 3% of the browser usage?</p>

  • ghostrider

    17 August, 2020 - 5:41 am

    <p>Good deal for Mozilla. We need Firefox as it is a very, very good browser. They stuck with their own rendering engine too despite the trend to go with Chromium. Looks like they do need to sort out their staffing costs though – those figures can't be right.</p>


    17 August, 2020 - 4:36 pm

    <p>Oh great! They can now just re-hire everyone they just laid off! Wonderful!</p>

  • bkkcanuck

    20 August, 2020 - 4:32 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#561725">In reply to Winner:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>That is a nice narrative but the complete story is a bit more nuanced.</p><p><br></p><p>1997 was likely Apples worst year, but even then they still had cash reserves of 1.2 billion… </p><p><br></p><p>That year Microsoft invested $150 million and received non-voting shares. As part Apple agreed to introduce the Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac (you know the thing Microsoft was ramming down everyone's throats at the time). They also agreed to work out a settlement agreement to long-standing disputes over whether Windows OS infringed on Apple's patents. Simply put the $150 investment was as much a product placement investment as it was a 'bail out'. Microsoft agreed to introduce Microsoft Office for the Mac platform (I believe also part of the deal) [I would say at this time it was more important].</p><p><br></p><p>Apple has been profitable in every year (except a small loss in 2000) I believe since 1997. </p><p><br></p><p>Around the same time Apple started selling off their 43% stake in ARM (co-founder with Acorn holding 43% as well I believe)… which provided them $1.1 in liquidity (the liquidity was important for R&amp;D for the transition to macOS X). </p>

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