Mozilla has a revenue share agreement with Pocket

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 5, 2015

When Mozilla announced the native integration of the "read-it-later" service Pocket in Firefox, rumors that Mozilla must have received money by Pocket for the integration emerged almost immediately.

The integration did not make a whole lot of sense to part of Firefox's user base, and there were reasons for that.

First, Pocket was already available as an add-on for the web browser which meant that users of the service could install it to make use of it. Then there was the fact that Mozilla worked on its own reading service in Firefox, and that the move did not benefit all Firefox users but only a slim part of the user base.

Mozilla refuted claims that it was "benefiting monetarily" from the integration of Pocket in the browser more than once publicly.

Chad Weiner, Mozilla's director of project management told PC World in an email back then that "there [was] no monetary benefit to Mozilla from the integration" and that Pocket "didn't pay for placement in the browser".

Another high-ranking Mozillian, Mark Mayo, Mozilla's VP and GM of Firefox stated that the integration had "nothing to do with money".

A recent Wired article suggests that Mozilla does have a revenue agreement with Pocket after all.

Although the company emphasizes that Pocket and Telefonica didn’t pay for placement in the Firefox browser, Mozilla Corp. chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer told WIRED that Mozilla has revenue sharing arrangements with both companies.

No further information are provided in the article which means that the terms of the revenue agreement are unclear. Pocket may not have paid Mozilla directly for adding the service natively to the web browser, but it appears that Mozilla may have benefited from the placement after all.

One plausible explanation is that Mozilla gets affiliate payments if users who signed up for Pocket through Firefox upgrade their accounts to Premium. Other possible explanations are a pay per new user model, or an agreement paying Mozilla for traffic that comes from the browser.

Another thing that is unclear right now is whether that revenue share agreement was in place before or at the time Pocket was integrated into Firefox, or agreed upon after the integration.

If the first is the case, Mozilla should have disclosed that to its user base considering that trust plays a major part in the relationship between Mozilla and Firefox's user base. In fact, Mozilla's Manifesto declares "transparent community-based processes" as a cornerstone of the organization's mission.

The agreement between Mozilla and Pocket puts the integration in a new light, and the same can actually be said for the integration of Hello in the browser.

Now You: What's your reaction to the revelation?

Mozilla has a revenue share agreement with Pocket
Article Name
Mozilla has a revenue share agreement with Pocket
Mozilla revealed recently that it has a revenue share agreement with Pocket, the read it later service that was integrated into Firefox natively some time ago.

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  1. real said on December 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Not surprised. To keep improving while securing a browser is a very big task. Google has enourmous sums of money it can dedicate to that task. Firefox hasn’t. Given those facts everyone who likes the ideals behind Firefox (not everything Mozilla does, the core ideals) should ask themselves: what needs to be in place for Firefox to go on? Where should funds for development come from? Donations appears to be insufficient. So then what? Many dislike the deal with Pocket or the tiles with ads. But again, where should the funds come from? Complaining about Firefox doesn’t solve that issue.

  2. jelabarre59 said on December 7, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I would say the big issue here is that Mozilla had lied about it. I suppose from their viewpoint they haven’t actually “lied”, as much as they’ve adhered to the Bill Clinton School of Word Redefinition. The Mozilla Organization is supposed to be open and transparent, but it seems they’ve been about as transparent as a cinderblock wall. trust, when lost, is hard if not impossible to regain.

    Yeah, I can (and have) hidden my Hello and Pocket icons, don’t see them in the toolbar *or* that dopey “hamburger menu”. But does that mean they’re completely INACTIVE? Does some piece of code sit in the background still running, even though you haven’t set it up? If you perhaps tried them, then decided you didn’t like them, can you completely disable them? How much do they bloat the code (beyond the severe bloat FF suffers from already)? How many resources were expended on adding these that could have been spent on more useful pursuits (like maintaining Thunderbird)?

    1. Ouroboros said on December 8, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      jelabarre59 yes the code at least behind hello is still there and very well active but also deliberatly left vulnerable because of ‘standards’. You need to open the secret about:config menu and set media.peerconnection.enabled to false. UblockOrigin has the setting too.

      Lots of websites got piped invasive tracking code, including wired, washingtonpost, nytimes, arstechnica. The vulnerability, despite this, is still allowed by your privacy friendly Mozilla months later.

      Check here:
      to see your internal network map. Now try again through a VPN/proxy. How kind of firefox to punch a hole through your vpn eh?

      Heres the bugtracker:
      Note the devs blocking it getting fixed.

      Also if you feel like using hello chat, you’re trusting Telefonica with the metadata? (who chats to who and when). Even though the content is encrypted end to end, the metadata is still out there on someones servers and possibly shared.

      So yes there’s a lot of ACTIVE code sitting under that button, with lots! of bugs and a door deliberately left open. Removing a button does little.

    2. Lestat said on December 8, 2015 at 12:15 am

      Just one of many lies. Australis keeps customization was another one.

      What Mozilla still does not dare to tell the public is that they remove the features because they are in market share war with Google Chrome. That is the biggest lie after all, Talking about making things cheaper, less complex and so on. I do not deny that that is part of the whole picture, but the point is, since Google Chrome entered the screen, Mozilla was always dozens of steps behind.

      Before Google Chrome, they have easily been able to outsmart Microsoft with IE, to show them their limit. The same was not working with Google, so what was the only chance left? Adopt their production strategy and following them as close as possible. Not only with browsers, also on additional products. Google makes one step, Mozillla is making the same with a bit of delay.

      First step of healing would be to tell the truth about how things changed. Step two would be break free of that unhealthy circle, let Chrome be Chrome and Firefox be Firefox.

  3. berttie said on December 6, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Unless people are willing to support Mozilla by paying for the browser then they have no right to complain about its commercial arrangements. There are no free lunches, someone has to foot the bills. If you’re not paying for the product then you’re the product being sold. It is that simple.

    1. Lestat said on December 7, 2015 at 10:49 am

      That is garbage.

      If Mozilla would not try to do everything which Google does (Matchstick with DRM – which failed and many customers still wait that they get their payment back, Firefox OS, Firefox phones and so on) then they would not need to make additional deals which save their asses.

      Mozilla has grown too big for their own good and as long as they see Google as optimum what has to be reached, they will make further mistakes which is drawing them even more into the dirt.

      Mozilla has lost all common sense these days. That happens when marketing guys instead of guys from the core business are leading. It is always the same, put someone on top who things with the money purse first, and all goes downhill.

    2. chris said on December 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      Good point, I just donated to them, and will do so regularly (also Wikipedia). On top of money, we also pay Google/MS/APPLE with our privacy which benefit them monetarily, we should be able to do the same for Mozilla.

  4. chris said on December 6, 2015 at 10:49 am

    GoogleSheeps can just stick to the sheepbrowser.

    Mozilla survived 5% market share, had revenue share with Google when google search was nothing. Where were your passionate disgust with that business arrangement? Mozilla doesn’t need your fairweather opinion.

    the open internet is important, if you think a monopoly is a good thing just because you love the monopoly company, you just aren’t old enough yet.

    1. Lestat said on December 6, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      And in the meantime Mozilla adopts both, Google’s development strategy and Google’s business mentality.

      Mozilla is the same way despicable than Google today. A browser company which is betraying their core user base and makes a full U-turn to be most attractive for Google Chrome or simple users is no longer trustworthy or a good one. This is true for Mozilla, and that is also true for Opera! Enjoy staying with a browser company which values money and commercial deals higher than the user and his/her demands, wishes, needs!

      1. Herb said on December 7, 2015 at 1:26 am

        @chris – No, there are alternatives, they’ll pick up where firefox fails. Otter Browser, QupZilla, Palemoon etc. Keep frightening people with the crazy rapid release cycles and chanting that the open web is dying, but people will just give the middle finger and slip away when another thing reaches trend potential. Loyalty is fickle.

        STOP about this mozilla privacy horsecrap, its a big fat lie. Maybe in the past, not now. Can’t even have have reasonable default preferences that respect privacy, 0 effort is made – all the effort is made to evade the users wishes, data is leaked all over the place.

        I just want a damn web browser that respects my privacy, doesn’t record/send things behind my back, makes reasonable efforts to fix tracking holes. I couldn’t care less about the likes of pocket or a fricken Hello icon on the toolbar as long as that AND the underlaying code is separated and OPT-IN, not used as a backdoor.

        People kick up a storm because of an icon, seriously? Get real guys, misdirection. The things underneath are taking the p*ss while you fixate on toolbar icons.

      2. chris said on December 6, 2015 at 10:55 pm

        As disgusting as mimicking chrome’s UI is, Mozilla is still true to its calling of an open web and user privacy, which a big corporation like google will NEVER guarantee.

        Mozilla made plenty of controversial decision before, changing UI multiple times, adopting JIT approach, separating mail client, removing full ftp support, so on and so forth. In the end, they are all acceptable in the grand scheme of things.

        Nobody alone represent the whole userbase, no matter how loud you yell. It all comes down to the statistics. If there are enough people voice their opinion, thats when it will count. Mozilla reversed multiple decisions too based on that.

        There is simply no other browser for the free web.

  5. Earl said on December 5, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    As stated, the “integration” could have been irrelevant to the “benefit” (meaning it could have been mutually beneficial whether it was integrated or not–and it just seemed more efficient to integrate it). This is pretty much irrelevant regarding why so many users have lost whatever trust they had in Mozilla. When a company makes you feel pretty much like the ugly stepchild, it’s time to say buh-bye.

  6. Mark Bauer said on December 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Just send Mozilla your message towards

    or here about the feature removals

    Just let them know and make yourself heard. Talking is of no use. But if people drop Firefox, Mozilla will feel it the hard way. Make sure everyone, friends, family, co workers will realize and drop Firefox, alone we are weak, together we are strong! Time to make a stand against companies who just lie towards their users!

    1. jelabarre59 said on December 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Both of my brother’s machines have been on Seamonkey for quite some time now (ever since the “Mozilla Suite” was abandoned, and SM was the equivalent package). At various times I have considered moving his browser and email to Firefox and Thunderbird. But with the way FF has devolved/degraded, and the Mozilla Org’s desire to abandon Thunderbird, I think he’ much better off staying where he is. At this point, the ONLY thing that makes TBird look better for his usage is the “Attachment Extractor” add-on/extension. The version for SM is severely outdated, and I have yet to find a useful SM equivalent.

      I still use TB for my own systems, and certainly hope that the OpenDocument/LibreOffice folks pick it up when Mozilla abandons it. For me, TB is *way* more important than FF.

    2. LimboSlam said on December 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Tried that plenty of times, it doesn’t work. Why, because they don’t want to hear the ugly truth!! They rather spy on us through their analyst mechanism/system that Firefox come with.

      1. Lestat said on December 6, 2015 at 7:33 pm

        Let’s just say the Mozilla Google clone company of today is no longer the privacy and choice valuing company of the past. All what counts for those guys is today money, Chrome users and the next best deal with the next best commercial partner, no matter if this could weaken user privacy.

        Mozilla of today is just a joke compared with the one of the past.

      2. Ñ said on December 6, 2015 at 6:36 am

        Really? which one? could you mention it please? thanks!

  7. Peter said on December 5, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Mozilla has changed. I knew they were trying to emulate Google in terms of product design, but it seems (from this and other examples) that they are also emulating them in business tactics.

    I don’t see the Firefox browser surviving in the long run. I mean, a huge part of its user base is composed of typical “open source community” people, who are attracted by a certain company ethic and a certain product philosophy. If you destroy those things, then why would you expect to keep the user base? Wouldn’t people just wander over to Google and get it over with?

    1. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Because that was Google’s original plan. To weaken Mozilla and make users switch. After they have been weakened enough and got pwned and owned Google shoot them into the wind, Mozilla is now forced to continue the course to lose features and become a minimalist and simple caricature of a power user browser or they would openly show how wrong their previous way was.

      People should be warned that Google is a devious company. There are way other browsers around which treat users with respect and value their privacy, Mozilla, Google, Safari and Opera clearly do not belong to this circle.

      We should instead advertise those free and smaller browser projects. If we want to support originality and not conformity we have to do this now!

      Pale Moon
      Otter Browser

  8. Matt A. Tobin said on December 5, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Here is a question that should be asked.

    The Manifesto applies to /projects/ of the Mozilla /Foundation/.. However, is it actually applicable and enforced for /products/ of the Mozilla /Corporation/?

    I think if we can answer that then maybe much will become more clear.

  9. Tom W said on December 5, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I really don’t mind them trying to earn some revenue, the pocket integration and the sponsored tiles seemed fairly innocuous to me. What I don’t like is the removal of important features like full extension support.

    If the revenue would help them maintain those parts of the software that make firefox unique and valuable, I’d say it is a worthwhile tradeoff.

  10. Moonchild said on December 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    It comes more as a shock to me that they initially denied monetary benefit — when I heard the news back then, it was clear to me that both sides would benefit; one (partner) from exposure, the other (Mozilla) from compensation for the exposure. Why would this be any different than a search engine partnership promoting one engine over all others?

    It’s a business partnership. You can bet that any partnership will be beneficial to Mozilla, and that includes the most recent “new privacy” which is a partnership with Disconnect, another commercial company. They are definitely breaking with their own credo in all sorts of ways.

    1. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Is this really so surprising? Mozilla has given up fair play since a long time, they see Chrome users as their future, they do everything to mirror Google’s business mentality as it seems to promise them success. They just are not wanting to make it public as it runs totally against their old values.

      Mozilla as we have known and loved it does not exist anymore. We just have another big player who gives a shit for the users and only cares for big money.

  11. julien said on December 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    But remember where the money goes in the case of Mozilla: back to the products as it is a non-profit organization…

    1. Rick said on December 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      No; non-profit just means there are no shareholders that need to get a return.

      Salaries (which are most ample at Mozilla) are where the $ goes; despite much of the development work being done on a voluntary basis.

      1. Neal said on December 6, 2015 at 12:55 am

        Overwhelming majority of the development work is done by paid employees. Just look at the bugzilla and track who is responsible the commits or patches.

  12. kalmly said on December 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    It’s ALWAYS about the $. That is what businesses do. They make money. That is why they exist. I always wonder why people get mad at that. I often don’t like the things businesses do, and I really dislike it when they make changes that take away what I like and have depended on for years. I especially dislike it when they force things I do not like on me. – Yes MS I’m glaring at you – But I am never surprised when they’ve done it for the $.

    P.S. It really makes me mad when they lie. But it is such a common practice that I seldom believe their protests of innocence. Sad, yeah.

  13. ozar said on December 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Regardless of what Mozilla said or didn’t say, it always seemed extremely unlikely that their sudden love for Pocket could have been about anything other than money. I’m just thankful they left users an option to disable it. Still, my overall trust and confidence in Mozilla is dropping, even as they are now claiming to be so very concerned about the privacy of end-users. These days, it’s probably a good idea to keep all companies under the microscope so to speak if you really want to know what they are all about.

  14. Anonymous said on December 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    they ditched google for dead & broke yahoo and now this… talk about vision, strategy lol……

    1. Joker said on December 5, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      It was the other way around: Google had no interest in extending the deal with Mozilla.

      1. Ñ said on December 6, 2015 at 6:26 am

        Really? they have interest in opera with a lesser user base, but not mouzilla with at least 500 million users..!?

      2. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        Exactly. Mozilla only acts like they have been the one’s who dumped Google. So everyone believes that they are in control.

        Google has done their damage by influencing Mozilla to drop much customization features, Mozilla was shrinking for this reason and Google had no need for them any longer.

        Mozilla was just big time owned and totally pwned. I can understand Mozilla somewhat in that case, i too would lie if something as bad would happen to me.

        But now with Yahoo they too face an uncertain future. 2 death candidates have aligned…. how nice :D

  15. Tom Hawack said on December 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    If Mozilla Corp. chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer reveals that information it’s likely because the company knows that information is on the path to public disclosure one way or another, unless a private internal debate which could mean there are dissensions in the executive staff.

    Mozilla needs funding like any company. As always what is bothering is when virtue is used as a commercial argument and that behavior is not on the same line. I believe there is a real and tough clash within Mozilla between an ideal and funding, which doesn’t mean a winner but rather explains all the hesitations, u-turns and uppercuts we’ve been assisting to within the last few years.

    Users as financial markets don’t appreciate hesitations, lack of perspective. Innovation, enhancements, progress but not shall-I-stay-or-shall-I-go-maybe-yes-meybe-not-why-not-lets-try-oh-no-lets-forget-that … make up your minds, imagine a fair business plan, speak it out loud and get things going, Mozilla, otherwise you’ll be on the track for Nobrowser’s land.

  16. Nebulus said on December 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    As Lestat said, no surprise really. What I don’t understand is why they denied it in the first place.

    1. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Well, if you say in the first place, it is for the money, then you are even scaring away the users who you want to get after all – in Mozilla’s case, the simple one’s.
      But If you say that “it’s for the users benefit” you are the hero.

      Anyway, Mozilla was caught in a lie and that makes that fools even less trustworthy. They are clearly these days just another big Google look-a-like which only care for power and money. The users and their needs are second to none of importance.

      1. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 10:57 pm

        The graves have already been created when Mozilla got inspired the first time by Google Chrome. I really can not understand that those guys are so fascinated by one of the worst browsers and by the worst company in history!

        But on the other side, Opera has fallen for them too.

        Perhaps the bigger your projects grow, the smaller the brain becomes because of growing greed? ;)

        Google has moved a step and Mozilla followed like a lapdog. It must be painfully if you have zero self conficence

      2. LimboSlam said on December 5, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        This is hard to watch, I don’t know if I’ll survive Firefox suicidal path. :( Everyday I pray for those boneheads to to come back to the living and think of the users first. Will it ever happen!!? Or are they already dead?

  17. Lestat said on December 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    No surprise. Only fits to Mozilla’s thinking, and puts all the feature removals also into a new light.

    -Pocket, Hello=Money
    -Customization and power user support = no money

    Simple calculation!

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