Mozilla will do well financially without Google

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 26, 2015

When Mozilla announced a year ago that it would not renew the search deal it had with Google in favor of regional deals that would give the organization more flexibility and independence, a turning point was reached.

Instead of being dependent on a single source of income, Mozilla suddenly was less dependent than before.

According to sources near Mozilla, the decision was made in part because of contractual restrictions by Google which limited the browser's search UI and likely also related features such as Tracking Protection.

This came at the cost of switching default search engines for Firefox users in specific regions of the world, and not everyone liked that obviously. It is easy enough to switch the search engine however in the Firefox web browser and that's likely the main reason why the change did not blow up in Mozilla's face.

My impression back then was that it was a good move for Mozilla, and also beneficial to part of Firefox's user base thanks to regional providers such as Baidu or Yandex replacing Google Search in China and Russia respectively.

Last year's financial statement, which Mozilla published yesterday, still shows Google as the major source of income, but next year, that is going to change.

About 323 million US Dollar of the 329 million US Dollar revenue total came from royalty deals in 2014, and most of that came from Google Inc.

Things will be very different in 2015. Mozilla has no commercial relationship with Google anymore at this point even though the company's search engine is still default in most of Europe for example.

According to Mozilla's Chief Financial Officer Jim Cook (via Cnet), the 2015 figure's will even be better thanks to the strategic move to find regional search partners for Firefox instead of a global one.

Money-wise, things are looking good as well. Mozilla had about 266 million US Dollars in cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2014 which is an increase of about 10 million US Dollars from a year earlier.

Mozilla's major expenses

Where does that money go? Software development accounts for the bulk of the money (212 million US Dollars) followed by branding and marketing with $40 million, general and administrative with $38 million, and program services with $13 million. In fact, expenses rose by $22 million in 2014.

The future

Mozilla continues its investment in mobile products such as Firefox OS, and mobile apps for Google's Android and Apple's iOS operating system. According to Net Market Share, Firefox had a mobile usage share of less than 1% in 2015.

Now You: What would you do if you'd be in charge of Mozilla?

Mozilla will do well financially without Google
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Mozilla will do well financially without Google
Mozilla published the financial statement for the year 2014 and an outlook for 2015, the first year in which it has no financial ties with Google anymore.

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  1. marc klink said on November 26, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    It does not matter how their funding goes, if no one wants to use the browser. Better to worry a little less about dollars, and more about excited users…

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 26, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      “no one”, interesting. Money is important because without money they can do nothing.

  2. Earl said on November 26, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I’d say that Mozilla’s “Google envy” got the better of them. I suppose Mozilla will do OK in the short term–adding some diversification of revenue. However, all of their plans for the future have a big, fat “FAIL” written all over them. They’ve alienated their users of Firefox (read: “new 5-year plan: avoid less than 1% market share”). 10 years from now I doubt Mozilla will be much more than an afterthought.

    Google is just another big company now–more evil than it used to be, still less evil than almost every other company (big or otherwise)… much less evil than those who complain about it (esp. including govt. types). At least Google “earns” its revenue, unlike the Google wannabes that complain the most.

    Alphabet soup, anyone?

  3. Tom Hawack said on November 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    I’d applause to any extra funding which would allow changing the bunch of sectarian volunteers which require an average of 7 weeks to review (sign) an add-on together with a staff which is apparently blocked psychologically on the issues of the signing process. Have all of them replaced by open-minded full-time hired professionals The problem with volunteers is 1- hard to fire them, 2- they sometimes consider themselves as the lords of their commitment. Mozilla needs a new staff, a new mentality. For that I’d be willing to give my penny, or more, but certainly not to support those clowns.

  4. kalmly said on November 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I, for one, applaud their decision and hope it works out well for them. Any move away from monster Google is a brave step in the right direction. I am so impressed, I may even try the browser again.

  5. Nebulus said on November 26, 2015 at 11:03 am

    One one hand, I’m happy that they are doing well. On the other hand, 212 mil. $ for software development of a browser? And another 40 mil.$ for BRANDING? Give me a break…

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      > On the other hand, 212 mil. $ for software development of a browser?

      Mozilla does much more than Firefox. It’s not only the development of Firefox.

    2. Neal said on November 26, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Yeah 40 mil for branding is a bit odd given how horrible and ineffective Mozilla marketing is.

  6. michaelpaul said on November 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Mozilla will do well financially without Google
    A donation to Mozilla helps keep the Web open and free from corporate control. If everyone reading this chipped in $3, we would be supported for another year. Donate now.

  7. Rocky said on November 26, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I think that in principle breaking the link with Google should be a good thing for Mozilla’s independence.

    It is also clear that Mozilla is itself a substantial corporation / foundation with all that this brings. I don’t like how Mozilla has taken certain political stances on certain issues – better to stick to its core business I.e the Firefox browser etc.

    I want to like and support Firefox but I have to say recently I am finding Google Chrome to be faster than Firefox which has been causing problems for me

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