Mozilla's annual report for 2012 highlights dependency on Google

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 22, 2013

mozilla annual report

The Mozilla Foundation has published its annual report for the year 2012 yesterday. The foundation managed to increase the total revenue in 2012 by almost 90% in comparison to the year before. Revenue rose to $311 million US Dollars from $163 million a year before that.

About 90% of that revenue comes from a deal with Google that Mozilla signed back in November 2011 that makes Google Search the default search engine of the Firefox browser until November 2014.

About 90% of revenue came from Mozilla's deal with Google which paid the foundation $274 million in royalties, nearly doubling the 2011 payment of $138 million.

Expenses have not seen the same growth as the foundation's revenue. They did increase to $208 million Dollars from $145 million the year before though.

Software development, program services and branding & marketing all saw an increase in expenses in 2012 compared to the year before that.  About 70% of expenses went into software development of products such as the Firefox web browser or Firefox OS.

The foundation's net assets rose to $240 million at the end of 2012, up from $170 million the year before covering more than a year of 2012 expenses.

The foundation can plan safely for the two coming years, considering that the deal with Google will end in November 2014 at the earliest.

It is clear that Mozilla is highly depend on that one deal with Google to keep up its operations, and while that is secured until 2014, it should be clear that diversification of income should be a top priority of the foundation.

Mozilla highlights that this is the case in the FAQ that was released alongside the annual report:

We currently have several key business partnerships and are actively exploring new ones, as well as other potential revenue opportunities.  [..]

Some key Mozilla Foundation projects like Lightbeam have received grants from organizations such as the Ford Foundation.

It is interesting to note in this regard that Firefox's usage share has been in decline for some time now. While it is still a top three web browser in most usage share statistics, all indicate that the browser's share has dropped in the past 12 months.

So what would happen if Google decided not to renew the contract with Mozilla? Mozilla has enough assets to survive more than a year without revenue if expenses do not get out of hand.

If Google declines, other partners may be found, and the most likely one is Microsoft with its Bing search engine provided that the new CEO does not sell or shut down the search engine business.

As it stands now, Mozilla can plan safely for the next two years as money from the Google deal will be available in that time. It should however seek other revenue opportunities in that time to diversify the income and reduce the dependency on a single company in terms of revenue.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. berttie said on November 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I wonder how much Google paid Opera to make the v12.1x browsers always default to Google search on startup? I understand there is a deal which runs to at least 2014.

  2. InterestedBystander said on November 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Yes. (a site I visit often) contacts,, and As well as,, and a few others. I don’t really know what is being passed over these connections when I hit No doubt their databases tally hits on that website, at a bare minimum, and probably record the fact that I went there.

    However, I also use Panoramio to post pictures of my part of the world (which contacts,, and, among others), and I use Google Drive for convenience. And I use GMail, and the chat function thereof.

    For me the equation becomes: is info on my websurfing more valuable to them than their services are to me? Or, put another way, what is risked by allowing my info to be recorded, and is that risk worth using services connected to Google? The equation evaluates differently for different people.

    So Mozilla contracted to use Google as the default search. They could use Bing, and go from the frypan into the fire. Or they could be altruistic and use or But Mozilla is a capitalist entity operating in a capitalist world economy. They’re gonna go where the money is. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, but their shareholders like it and that’s the bottom line.

    1. InterestedBystander said on November 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Heh, just noticed that the Ubuntu start page shows Google search. And as a further bit of black comedy, and both get notified when I hit the Ubuntu One cloud service. For what it’s worth.

  3. Jim said on November 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I wish DuckDuckGo could afford to offer Mozilla that kind of deal. DDG is one of the initial set of add-ons I install when I do a fresh install of Firefox (or any other browser for that matter). I try to keep Google (and all the other privacy intruders) at arm’s length as much as I can.

  4. Virtualguy said on November 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    In my view, the only reason Firefox is losing ground in the battle of the browsers is because the average user hasn’t a clue about the threat to their internet browsing privacy that comes from using Chrome or IE. Google is little more than a personal data collection machine, and their Chrome browser is an effective tool in their huge arsenal of data collecting methods.

    Google will gladly sacrifice your privacy for their financial gain. In my view, that makes them evil.

    A good example of their evil ways:
    “Google has agreed to pay a $17 million penalty for cheating a privacy system in Apple’s Safari browser. Google was fined because it effectively lied to customers about its privacy policy.”

    If they will act like that with Apple’s browser, just imagine what they could be doing with their own Chrome browser!!!

  5. Nebulus said on November 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Somehow, by looking at what Firefox becomes or strives to become, I highly doubt that the deal is only linked to the usage of the search engine… OK, maybe on paper the contract is strictly related to that, but the Google’s influence on Mozilla is clearly showing.

  6. Niks said on November 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Does Mozilla also earn from Google if user searches through the search engine website ? ( Not the search in address bar )

    1. madoso said on November 24, 2013 at 3:07 am

      Try to read about apache proxy and indexes, its a kind of proxy that had a list of blacklisted links when you try to access them it will redirect you to a customized index like the one in your school…

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      I don’t think they have published details about the deal. It looks as if the deal is solely linked to Google being the default search engine in Firefox, and nothing else.

      1. Niks said on November 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

        Thanks . BTW i am also looking for an article on how to replace blocked links/websites with image . Like in my school facebook is blocked . When we try to open it it shows our school’s logo pic with a message . Can’t find anywhere how to do it .

      2. Niks said on November 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

        ok . btw can you reply to my comment in firefox cache article ?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.