Mozilla's revenue increased significantly in 2016

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 2, 2017
Updated • Dec 9, 2017

Mozilla, makers of the Firefox web browser, released the State of Mozilla annual financial report for the year 2016, and things could not look better from a financial point of view.

The Mozilla Foundation and subsidiaries saw revenue increase in 2016 by 99 million US Dollars from 421 million US Dollars in 2015 to 520 million US Dollars in 2016.

Expenses on the other hand did not increase at the same rate. Expenses sat at 337 million US Dollars in 2015, and are reported as 360 million US Dollars in 2016.

The bulk of the revenue, 503 million out of the 520 million US Dollars comes from royalties. While Mozilla does not provide details on those, the bulk here comes from deals with companies like Yahoo, Baidu or Yandex which get their search engines promoted in Firefox.

mozilla revenue 2016

Mozilla changed its strategy in regards to search engines in Firefox in 2014 when it switched from selecting one global partner to selecting regional partners instead. The organization selected Yahoo as the default search provider in the United States for instance, and agreed on a five year contract that made Yahoo the default in the US for that time.

Mozilla ditched Yahoo recently however in favor of Google, two years before the five year contract would be up for renewal. The terms of the new deal with Google have not been revealed yet, and it remains to be seen whether this new deal will give Mozilla's revenue another boost in 2017.

The organization launched Firefox 57, a new version of the web browser recently designed to future proof Firefox by dropping legacy components and focusing on WebExtensions instead, an inter-browser standard that most web browsers support these days.

The impact this move has on Mozilla won't be seen until the organization releases its 2018 report, considering that the switch happened at the end of the year.

Closing Words

It is a good thing that Mozilla is doing well financially. While the organization's revenue pales in comparison to Google's, Microsoft's or Apple's, its approach to development, privacy and openness is refreshingly different from that of the other major players in the browser market.

Now You: What do you think will Mozilla focus on in 2018 and beyond?

Mozilla's revenue increased significantly in 2016
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Mozilla's revenue increased significantly in 2016
Mozilla, makers of the Firefox web browser, released the State of Mozilla annual financial report for the year 2016, and things could not look better from a financial point of view.
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  1. A said on December 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    it’s approach to development

    Sigh… Here you need a determiner, not a contraction. Drop the apostrophe; it makes you look uneducated.

  2. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    How exactly can mozilla revenue be up while the number of users is at an all time low ?
    Isn’t the advertising money from google supposed to be proportional to the number of users directed to their search engine?

    Dropping from around 1/3 market share at peak to around 5-6% today and revenue is up by more than a hundred millions of dollar. I don’t get it. The less users the more revenue and profit, what gives ?

    1. user17843 said on November 5, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      Two reasons:

      (1) Rising absolute numbers of people accessing the internet, despite relative loss in market share

      (2) dubious contract termination with Yahoo, tricking them out of hundreds of millions

  3. Scott said on December 4, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Mozilla’s pockets are filled with cash, yet they are still asking for donations on their site pretending to be a noble non profit fighting for Internet freedom.

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      It’s not exactly new, remember when 10 000 people donated money to pay for an ad in the NY Times for firefox 1.0 while mozilla had revenue in the tens of millions ? it was circa 2004-2005 IIRC, nothing has changed since.

      Maybe they need to get donations to keep their non-profit status and tax exemption or something.

  4. basicuser said on December 2, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Bye Bye Firefox, it was good while it lasted but you’ve moved on to places I’d rather not go.

    From Wikipedia, FWIW:
    ” A nprofit organization, also known as a non-business entity,[1] is an organization that has been formed by a group of people in order “to pursue a common not-for-profit goal”, that is, to pursue a stated goal without the intention of distributing excess revenue to members or leaders.”

    I’m all for free enterprise, but it’s hard to see Mozilla as a non-profit any longer. Their gross income makes one wonder why they still have a “donate” button at

    Posted from Palemoon.

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      Palemoon is not the best alternative due to a history of security vulnerabilities, do you know about waterfox which is exactly as the name suggest:

    2. Anonymous said on December 3, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Sounds like someone doesn’t know much about running non profits but still has a strong opinion. We’re the internet elite guys, watch us.

    3. Sophie said on December 3, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Palemoon over Firefox? Waterfox maybe yes………….Palemoon, not for me thanks.

      1. Kubrick said on December 3, 2017 at 10:33 pm

        please explain why you would not use palemoon please.

    4. ff said on December 3, 2017 at 12:47 am


  5. Anonymous said on December 2, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Le siège de Mozilla à Paris:

    “La Fondation Mozilla s’est installée au 16 bis boulevard Montmartre (dans le IXème), dans l’ancien Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau. Construit en 1778, l’hôtel particulier était d’abord occupé par Mercy-Argenteau, ambassadeur d’Autriche à Paris et précepteur de Marie-Antoinette…”

    Google Translate: The Mozilla Foundation settled at 16 bis boulevard Montmartre (in the IX), in the former Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau. Built in 1778, the mansion was first occupied by Mercy-Argenteau, Austrian ambassador in Paris and preceptor of Marie Antoinette.

    Your money is in royal hands ;)

  6. Clairvaux said on December 2, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Half a billion for a non-profit, eh ? Nice racket if you can manage it.

    Let me qualify this by saying that I’m all for profit, the rich, capitalism, consumerism and all that. It’s just the mind-blowing hypocrisy of all the associated noise that’s insufferable.

    The “for-profits” are no different : they insist on far-left posturing while making obscene amounts of money, and lording it over us.

    And yes, it’s good to have an open-source browser, more privacy-minded than others, and having money to pay developers. Now if they could just dispense with the “we’re saving the world” propaganda — not to mention the underlying message : “and if you don’t align with our bone-headed ‘values’, you’re a stinking moron”.

    Also, bookmarks. Bookmarks, you stinking morons. Decent bookmark management is the bare minimum for any browser — never mind one that’s aiming to save the world.

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      I totally get you, the discrepancy between the marketing bs and actual thing is maddening.
      About bookmarks it seems their move was integrating the proprietary pocket service then buying it for an undisclosed amount of money after letting their bookmark thing rot for over a decade (two?). I actually had a few extensions to fix this then I simply stopped using the browser bookmarks to use my own solution: the free software wallabag.

      But bookmarks is not the only thing where firefox falls short of hitting the bare minimum or reaching a decent level: history, mouse gestures, configuration (about:config is madness), and so on.

      1. Clairvaux said on December 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        Yes, of course, I stress bookmarks because that’s the area which is hindering me the most, but other users could mention other missing features.

        I had a look at Wallabag (never heard of it), however I’m not sure it’s a substitute for bookmarks :

        – It saves pages to read later, not bookmarks ;
        – It’s “free” but it costs 12 € per year for hosting (and nobody tells you whether that’s compulsory, an option, and if the latter, what the bloody difference is) ;
        – It requires registering with an account (so : no, thanks) ;
        – The Windows button on the home page is a broken link ; I have a Windows computer and use Windows versions of software (how unusual !) ;
        – The “features list”… well, there’s no feature list, the relevant button just sits there doing nothing ;
        – The Firefox extension page at Mozilla does not even think it necessary to explain what it is that Wallabag does ;
        – The installation “help” uses some language most of the words of it I cannot understand (and it has a suspiciously Linuxy feel to it) ;
        – Once you’re into the help pages, there’s no going back to the main site. Nobody thought that maybe a home button could be required to bring you back to where you came from.

        However, they sure have a slick homepage, with a beautiful coffee cup picture on a rough wooden table (because polishing it would ruin the planet, I suppose), sliding panels and all the “modern” gimmicks necessary.

    2. Suz said on December 5, 2017 at 7:02 am

      > “and if you don’t align with our bone-headed ‘values’, you’re a stinking moron”.

      If you don’t do bookmarks my bone-headed way, you are a stinking moron

      1. Clairvaux said on December 5, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        I think you have an intelligence-deficit disorder, Suz. Just sticking words one after another, and changing a few of them, does not mean you’re making any sense at all.

        Firefox does not “do” bookmarks at all. It’s an afterthought. I have explained why here at length. Please refer to my former posts.

        Also, I don’t ask that all users use bookmarks the way I do. I only ask Mozilla offers everybody the possibility to really manage bookmarks, that is : that they include a file manager, Windows Explorer-type bookmark manager in their stinking browser. That’s what every software out there does, even if it’s developed by a one-man outfit in a basement for free. That’s called a standard, and for a good reason : if all cars have a steering wheel, it’s because it’s damn easier to turn the corner with it than without.

        Then, everybody would be able to use that honest-to-God bookmark manager, or not. This is called freedom, and empowerment of the user. Now if you want to use bookmarks in a silly, bone-headed manner, that is letting the Web feed you whatever trash someone else wants to feed you for profit, then you would still be able to do it.

        On the other hand, Mozilla asks us to promote certain particular, controversial political views, which is a completely unrelated matter to providing a browser ; and if we don’t, it makes us unwelcome, guilty — and it fires its CEO and co-founder.

        See the difference ? The act of thinking takes a little more than just playing smart-ass while moving a few words around.

  7. Thomas H. said on December 2, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Seems to be a lot of money for a “non-profit organisation”. They even have money to fund far-left extremism.

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      I think you are confusing Mozilla and Mozilla, one is a non-profit foundation and the other is a for profit corporation. One owns the other as a way to work around the non-profit limitation or some kind of usual financial shenanigans used to be for-profit in the back while pretending to be for profit at the front.

      IIRC this set up was put in place to be able to collect google’s advertising money legally because the IRS was after them for tax fraud or something.

  8. archie said on December 2, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Just like we needed AMD to keep alive in the early 2000’s, we need Mozilla active and healthy. Imagine a world where you can browse with either Chrome, Edge or Safari.

    While I came to question the meaningfulness of being a voter in a western country, for reasons I will not debate here, I certainly wouldn’t miss supporting Mozilla by sending a $20 bill their way annually. Not much but I live on very little, by choice; most of you can multiply that without issue.

    IMO, this small bill will do more for me than any form of support I could give one of these crooks/morons. I’m in France but I bet this applies in any western country.

    OTOH, I’m a bit ashamed for my fellowman, seeing how donations are but a tiny fraction of Mozilla’s annual resources.

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      I would never give a cent to a for profit corporation making hundred of millions out of advertising i.e. mozilla.

      I have a hard time imagining a world of only chrome, edge and safari because I’m using a free software OS and none of those are available but waterfox, otter, poseidon, netsurf, uzbl, fifth, dooble are, to mention only the subset of available browsers I actually have installed and use.

      I can help you about the question of the meaningfulness of being a voter by directing you to Etienne Chouard and this book by Etienne de la Boétie: Discourse on voluntary servitude.

      1. Clairvaux said on December 9, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        My advice would be to stick to La Boétie, and disregard this intellectual crook Etienne Chouard. Putting both names in the same sentence is like mistaking drain cleaner for a fine wine.

    2. Clairvaux said on December 2, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Somehow, some people can’t practice charity without berating others because they (supposedly) don’t. One has to wonder whether that’s not the whole point. How very Mozilla-ish indeed.

      1. Clairvaux said on December 4, 2017 at 2:01 am

        You’re very welcome, Rush.

      2. Rush said on December 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

        @Clairvaux : And as for me, “Loving The Web” is why I can logon, click on to Waterfox, access said web, and sit back and enjoy a good read, like your post.

        Well said.

      3. Clairvaux said on December 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm

        Yes, there are many obnoxious people on the Internet. That does not make it right. If leftist do-gooders think it appropriate to berate all Ghacks readers who don’t give money to Mozilla, I’m perfectly entitled to call them out for what they are, and expose their racket.

        You have to admire the gall of someone who feels necessary to inform the world he gives the paltry sum of 20 dollars a year to any party, and does not stop at that boasting ; but who also pretends he is “ashamed for his fellowmen” who don’t. Not only that, but “most of them could multiply that without issue”. Socialists being generous with other peoples’ money : nothing new under the sun, but such a caricature of an attitude which is usually kept under wraps !

        20 dollars a year is certainly a very cheap way to feel smug and tell everybody you are holier than them. But then, similar folks associate, since Mozilla informs us that “We all love the web. Join Mozilla in defending it.” Mozilla does not just make a browser. It does not even make the best browser in the world. It defends the Web, and note how we are all summoned to “love the Web” — or else.

        Naturally, “loving the Web” is a loaded phrase, since this means loving Mozilla’s idea of the Web, which is never spelled out in so many words — a favorite trick of all tyrants. Obviously, just reading Ghacks threads about Firefox, not everybody’s idea of a browser — let alone of the Web — aligns with Mozilla’s.

        But Mozilla goes on : “Let’s protect the world’s largest public resource for future generations. A few times a year, Mozilla asks for donations. Just chipping in the price of a cup of coffee can help us keep the web healthy, wonderful and welcoming to all.”

        Loaded, inappropriate words. What’s a “healthy” Web ? A “wonderful” Web ? A Web “welcoming to all” ? (Including hackers, malware peddlers, organized crime, dictatorships trying to sabotage other countries’ electricity grids ?) However, who can possibly object to healthiness ? To things being wonderful ? To being welcoming ? See how the swindle works ?

        Mozilla certainly wasn’t “welcoming to all” when it showed the door to its CEO, just because he gave a paltry sum (relatively speaking) to an organisation lobbying against homosexual marriage. I guess some donations make you morally superior, and others will have the do-gooders coming at you like a ton of bricks. What hypocrisy.

        In this incident, Mozilla engaged in a breathtaking exercise of newspeak and lying through their teeth, by stating : “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

        Make that impossible. Pretenting to stand for freedom of speech at the very moment you’re denying it to your co-founder takes the mind of a crook. But of course, Mozilla does not stand for freedom : it stands for “equality”, which is just another word in the newspeak dictionary. Equality means in fact : power to the leftists, and all others get kicked out of their jobs, and smeared all day long.

        As I said : bookmarks, people. Bookmarks. Worry more about developing a decent bookmark manager, and less about saving the world. Some people tried to save the world in the past century, and we all know how nicely this has ended.

      4. archie said on December 2, 2017 at 9:24 pm

        That’s my point, right there: you see it as charity. Enough said.
        Be well.

      5. Anonymous said on December 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        If you feel berated over *this*, and on the internet of all things, you must spend your life getting offended :/

  9. anon3 said on December 2, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Sorry for going off-topic, but this is really weird…

    On Wednesday, there was a new release of FF ESR, 52.5.1, at . Now it’s gone. Could it be pulled or something? I’ve never seen this happen before.

    Should I roll back to 52.5.0 or…?

  10. John C. said on December 2, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Google…. a deal with the devil. Goes a long way in explaining all the changes to the Firefox UI since version 29 and leading up to 57.

    1. zeotexyz said on December 2, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Literal definition of making a mountain out of a molehill. Could people like you focus on what Mozilla is actually doing wrong, like NOT listening to their strong userbase, focusing on overhauling their addon system without having a proper replacement instead of spewing ridiculous statements like this?

      Mozilla needs to make money, and needs to stay afloat, while retaining it’s creme la creme – spearheading open source development. Try doing that at a time like this and see if you can do better than they have.

      1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm

        On the contrary as a long time supporter of firefox, phenix, mozilla suite and everything since the end of netscape I think mozilla needs to sink and disappear, the sooner the better.

        I’m never going back to firefox or any mozilla product ever. I’m fed up with being treated like an unworthy POS because I’m not part of a large enough part of their user base, I have enough with being ignored and and having to fix their crap by adding a ton of extensions that now stopped working, I can’t stand the discrepancy between their marketing and the actual things they do, brandishing user freedom while actually forcing change upon and users and removing choice, claiming to defend privacy but adding a spying mechanism into firefox and dare you disable it suddenly it’s your fault for the stupid move some mozilla devs decided in a vacuum on false pretense. The list goes on and has been for quite a while.

        Had I wanted to have google chrome clone, I would have used chromium or iron or one of the dozen out there.

        I have stopped supporting mozilla and will not help them or contribute ever again, I can’t wait for them to disappear into oblivion.

  11. ThatPoorDude said on December 2, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Fuck me, seriously!!! How come a fucking browser can generate HALF-a-BILLION???? I’m seriously a useless shit who’s living on a gov social security can’t find a job and an open browser is making a half billion, fucking how? really how???

    1. momoz said on December 8, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      They give away their users to the biggest advertising network in exchange for a very small share of the cake.

    2. AnorKnee Merce said on December 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

      @ ThatPoorDude, …….

      That US$0.5 billion is mostly money derived from advertisers.

      In comparison, Google’s ad revenue in 2016 is US$79.4 billion. Many companies like to pay tech companies to display ads for their products/services on the Internet. From their ad revenue, Google will be paying Mozilla some US$millions in 2018 to use Google Search as the default Search engine in the FF browser’s Search box.

      I think Mozilla-Firefox is also experimenting in Germany with getting more revenue from cyber-coin miners.

      I think Open-source companies should not be faulted for trying to earn an income to sustain their operations(= development, maintenance, etc), especially by offering a free product/service, eg Google Inc, Mozilla, Canonical Inc and Red Hat Inc. Free Google-Chrome is also based on Open-source.

      One of the main reason for the poor adoption of the free Linux desktop OS in the world mass market of home-consumers and businesses is the non-revenue philosophy of most of the Linux developers, who are mostly lone-ranger hobbyists and not serious business people, eg Linus Torvald. Because of Linux’s miniscule world marketshare of around 2%, Linux is not very user-friendly and not well-supported by hardware device OEMs and Business software developers. This becomes a vicious cycle.
      … Things would likely have been different if the Linux desktop OS followed the business model of Google or M$, ie get income from ads, marketers and sales of apps/programs or from OS licensing. Without an income stream, the OS suffers from lack of proper development and support from 3rd-parties. Hence, many Linux distros have come and gone, eg Puppy Linux.

      1. Jody Thornton said on December 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        Would you consider Puppy gone? I know that the Precise build is dead – sad too because I run it on an old Dell D610 notebook.

    3. Sophie said on December 3, 2017 at 8:52 am

      You show absolutely no class using bad language. Its not the words that are a problem, per se. Its how pointless they are within your context.

      1. Anonymous said on December 3, 2017 at 8:56 am

        You’re showing even less right now though.

    4. accountuser said on December 3, 2017 at 2:13 am

      I’m guessing that the personality displayed in your comment tells a lot about why don’t have a job, Mister

    5. Trivial said on December 3, 2017 at 12:44 am

      They use better language than you do !

  12. Sup said on December 2, 2017 at 9:25 am

    It’s good news because there’s a ton to do that fits their mission. The biggest one is probably AI, it needs to be open as it’s vital for society that high grade AI is not reserved to huge companies and governments. I don’t know what’s Mozilla’s part in OpenAI though.

    Short term wise Mozilla needs of course to focus on Firefox desktop and bring mobile up to speed. (Android will apparently get Stylo in 59, Desktop has had it in 57) Once mobile product management is on par with desktop, or at least Android, Mozilla should push it more. They seem to refrain from doing so so far, even with Quantum we barely hear about mobile Firefox.

    Mozilla should continue working towards better privacy, that includes getting closer to Tor Browser, but also continuing to tighten data collection preferences so that the opt-out switches at about:preferences#privacy-reports control everything.

    Technology wise, I’m curious to see Quantum DOM, WebRender, Pathfinder, First party isolation and Fingerprinting resistance being finished next year, along with SIMD support, more WebExtensions APIs and a couple other things I’m not thinking of. I hope they’ll post a roadmap or something similar.

  13. gh said on December 2, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Now that Mozilla has ejected us, the OldGuard userbase (on schedule, as announced well in advance)… we can already notice their attention toward (expectation of) providing a SaaS, likely a freemium model, to their userbase. Across blog / mailinglist / mozwiki, we can notice that the word MEMBERSHIP has been mentioned with increasing frequency.

    The groundwork has been laid — many components are already in place within the firefox codebase (not yet exposed via gui). Beyond oAuth + sync + pocket + cliqz, the stage is set to provide 2FA, secure wall-garden ecommerce (think: GroupBuys, Deals of the Day) webmail + PlayStore (firefox Marketplace).

    At the risk of being accused of either (or both) stating the obvious, or spewing absurdities…

    I’ll confess that I expect we’ll see a Mozilla + Amazon PaaS (platform-as-a-service) product emerge. By the end of 2018? Shrug, I can’t / won’t guess the timeframe.

    Moz has already begun collecting voice audio data, toward build-out of a voice-recognition offering. To me, that is “very telling” — doing so tempts Amazon to acquire / absorb them in order to quelch competition, and invites Verizon et al into an acquisition bidding war.

    1. bob said on December 4, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Is that tinfoil hat comfortable?

    2. Sup said on December 2, 2017 at 9:28 am

      That speech recognition thing is open source, and the voice data is publicly available and free.

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