Breaking: Mozilla changes strategy, focuses on Firefox and AI

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 14, 2024

It has been less than a week since the new interim CEO took over the reigns from long-time Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker. Today news broke that Mozilla is changing its product strategy going forward.

The organization plans to focus on bringing "trustworthy AI into Firefox" and to scale back some of its other products and services.

Affected products include Mozilla VPN, Firefox Relay, and Online Footprint Scrubber. The organization will also reduce investments in its Mastadon instance. These products are not going away. Mozilla will shut down some of its products next to that. First product to receive the ax is Hub, a 3D virtual world that Mozilla launched several years ago.

Mozilla explains in an internal memo that it is reducing investments in "market segments that competitors crowd and where it is challenging to deliver a differentiated offering".  The VPN niche, for instance, is very competitive. Hundreds of companies fight for market share and there are several good options for privacy conscious users, including Mullvad, which Mozilla VPN is based on.

About 60 employees in the "People Team" are laid off as a consequence of the restructuring.

Mozilla plans to keep investing in products and services, but only "in products addressing customer needs in growing market segments".

The organization's focus will be on Firefox going forward. More precisely, on bringing "trustworthy AI into Firefox". For this, Mozilla is "bringing together Pocket, Content, and the AI/ML teams supporting content with the Firefox Organization".

Google dependence

For much of its history, Mozilla relied on search engine deals for funding. Companies like Google pay Mozilla millions to make their search engines the default search tool in the browser.

This dependence, in the case of Google to a direct competitor, needed to be reduced. The idea was born to create standalone security and privacy products. Some of these were released for free, others as subscription-based products.

Mozilla managed to reduce its dependency on search engine deals in the past couple of years. The organization made about $600 million in revenue in 2022, the last published report year. About $510 million came from royalties, which are search engine deals. While income from royalties is falling, it is still the major source of revenue for Mozilla.

Subscription and advertising revenue made a jump from $56 million in 2021 to $75 million in 2022. Even with continued investments, it would take decades before this segment would overtake royalties as the main revenue driver.

Closing Words

Focus on Firefox is something that many Firefox users wanted to hear for a long time. While Mozilla never abandoned the browser, it looked as if it put much of its focus on other products and services.

Introduction of AI into Firefox is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if Mozilla keeps it promise that the integrated AI is trustworthy and privacy friendly.

Engineers at Mozilla already dipped their toes into local AI products. Called Memory Cache, it is an AI that runs locally only. One major distinguishing factor between Memory Cache and the ChatGPTs, Copilots, and Google Geminis is that it is not trained on large datasets. Instead, Memory Cache is trained on files the users gives it access to.

Now You: what is your take on this development?

Here is the full Mozilla memo:

Scaling back investment With, we made a big bet in 2023 to build a safer, better social media experience, based on Mastodon and the Fediverse. Our initial approach was based on a belief that Mozilla needed to quickly reach large scale in order to effectively shape the future of social media. It was a noble idea but one we struggled to execute. While we resourced heavily to pursue this ambitious idea, in retrospect a more modest approach would have enabled us to participate in the space with considerably greater agility. The actions we’re taking today will make this strategic correction, working through a much smaller team to participate in the Mastodon ecosystem and more rapidly bring smaller experiments to people that choose to live on the instance.

Protection Experimentation & Identity (PXI): We’re scaling back investment in some of our standalone consumer products in the Security and Privacy space. We are reducing investment in market segments that competitors crowd and where it is challenging to deliver a differentiated offering. Specifically, we plan to reduce our investments in VPN, Relay, and Online Footprint Scrubber. We will maintain investment in products addressing customer needs in growing market segments.

Hubs: Since early 2023, we have experienced a shift in the market for 3D virtual worlds. With the exception of gaming, education, and a handful of niche use cases, demand has moved away from 3D virtual worlds. This is impacting all industry players. Hubs’ user and customer bases are not robust enough to justify continuing to dedicate resources against the headwinds of the unfavorable shift in demand. We will wind down the service and communicate a graceful exit plan to customers.

Right-sizing the People Team
Given the reduction in staffing and lower headcount budget moving forward in MozProd, some roles have been consolidated in the People and other support services orgs so that we are offering the right level of support to our product portfolio. Optimizing our org to sharpen focus.

In 2023, generative AI began rapidly shifting the industry landscape. Mozilla seized an opportunity to bring trustworthy AI into Firefox, largely driven by the Fakespot acquisition and the product integration work that followed. Additionally, finding great content is still a critical use case for the internet. Therefore, as part of the changes today, we will be bringing together Pocket, Content, and the AI/ML teams supporting content with the Firefox Organization. More details on the specific organizational changes will follow shortly. Within MozProd, there are no changes within MDN, Ads, or Fakespot. There are also no changes to Legal/Policy, Finance & Business Operations, Marketing, or Strategy & Operations.

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Breaking: Mozilla changes strategy, focuses on Firefox and AI
Mozilla is changing its product strategy going forward. It plans to focus on Firefox and AI, and will scale back investments in some of its other products.
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  1. guest said on March 2, 2024 at 2:21 am

    ai will be the end of all pc’s because microsoft did not tell you all how it was taking over pc’s around the world and stopping they from working at all isjoy the hell of ai you people have been ripping off

  2. Guest said on February 21, 2024 at 2:35 pm

    It’s about time they fix Firefox on Android. They could do with adding full support for live tab sync between devices too.

  3. Cletus Gritslinger said on February 15, 2024 at 5:51 pm

    Sounds good to me. Focus and direction are what Firefox needs.

    Re AI: Do we really need more AI features in our browsers? Wouldn’t it be better to focus 100% on optimizing the browser engine?

    1. iwilldiealone said on February 19, 2024 at 1:09 am

      If we can get offline, decentralized, privacy respecting, opensource and multi-platform AI that competes with microsofts co-pilot, the lame arc browser, and others. than I’m all for it. You can dislike it all you want. AI is not going away.

  4. Paul said on February 15, 2024 at 2:23 pm

    Sound good, I am a firefox user and as long as they make sure firefox remains available for linux then it is not my concern that they are a niche browser.
    I live in belgium and have no problem logging in whit my eID, also banking no problem and that with Linux Mint. So don’t blame your browser or your os, the blame lies with your government and the other big comanys who limit your freedom

  5. Play Ball said on February 15, 2024 at 12:54 pm

    They should concentrate all efforts on Firefox, android version also. And the main thing: uBlock Origin. This is the only selling point they have: Adblocking. Cookie popups blocking. Get that right and the users will come. There’s no such thing as brand loyalty in browsers. The one who stops ads the most, wins.

  6. Tony O said on February 15, 2024 at 12:47 pm

    Hopefully it will be easy to disable or remove AI from Firefox. I am a Nightly user, so I get to find out first. Yay!

  7. Bonzo said on February 14, 2024 at 6:23 pm

    Go ask the previous CEO for money, she’s the reason all these people now lost their jobs.

  8. VioletMoon said on February 14, 2024 at 5:03 pm

    Laura Chambers, the new CEO of Mozilla and the Board Memebers, may need to first sit down and discuss who their “target user audience” is: Are they catering to a small group of pseudo-elitists who demand user choice, customization of the UI, and a grab bag assortment of over 100,000 add-ons, or do they need a large group of users who are willing and capable of changing the default browser upon installation/upgrading of Windows?

    In the business, finance, medical, and educational fields, IT Departments won’t/don’t change the default browser [or even allow the installation of a second browser] on employee computers just because a few employees happen to say, “But I use Firefox at home; how can I sync with Edge.”

    Unless there is a relevant reason–time savings, better web page rendering, ease of use, etc.–there is no reason to change the default browser or add a new one to the generic image that is deployed on all computers in the myriad departments.

    What Mozilla needs to figure out, what Chambers needs to ask her employees, is “What can we do to make Firefox the ‘go to’ browser both at home and at the workplace? AI? Privacy? Security? What can we do that will convince IT personnel and employees that the ‘best’ browser is Firefox?” The choice for going with AI is logical, but Firefox is already far behind in the AI game; it’s impossible for them, at this point, to compete with Google or MS.

    At this point, there really isn’t a compelling reason for large scale institutions to deploy Firefox as the default for all corporate users; so Firefox will [guessing here] continue losing market share and eventually become extinct.

    1. Rex said on February 15, 2024 at 11:35 pm

      Reminder that ‘pseudo elitists’ as you describe them were the original target audience for Firefox, they were the ones who evangelized the browser among their less nerdy friends and family and helped take it to a marketshare high of 32% in 2009. The old Firefox under its original team didn’t unseat IE as the dominant browser by simply copying its features as they have done with Chrome.

      Chrome and its variants are the browsers for normies, chasing that market by castrating all useful features and turning into a Chrome copycat sure paid off well for Mozilla, didn’t it?

  9. John said on February 14, 2024 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t think jumping on the AI bandwagon is what Firefox needs. Adding CoPilot to Edge and Bing search never helped its market share much. Google Gemini and CoPilot seem to be searching for wider use cases yet. Firefox has dipped so low in users that it’s really become irrelevant on what Mozilla does. What Mozilla needs to do is shrink their massive executive overhead and spend money of developers.

    1. bravet said on February 15, 2024 at 4:55 am

      “I don’t think jumping on the AI bandwagon is what Firefox needs.”

      Brave, Opera and Edge disagree.

      1. 45 RPM said on February 17, 2024 at 10:34 am

        They’re all wrong.

  10. Herman Cost said on February 14, 2024 at 3:02 pm

    On balance, this new CEO’s priorities seems like a big improvement to me. Given Mozilla’s size and finances, they certainly need to focus on fewer things. It is encouraging that she acted so quickly to cut out a number of clearly extraneous things like VPN and Hub where they had no chance at all of carving out a viable niche. Hopefully, this works out.

  11. Daniel said on February 14, 2024 at 2:59 pm

    Firefox is still the most tweak-able browser out there.

    Perhaps CEO should share a bit his/her financial wealth to keep employees and get all the extensions checked and functional on desktop and Android.

    1. Bob Smith said on February 16, 2024 at 1:44 am

      “Firefox is still the most tweak-able browser out there.”

      Please have a look at PaleMoon.

  12. AISpyware said on February 14, 2024 at 2:56 pm

    We don’t want any trustworthy AI in Firefox. We just want the browser to be a freaking browser. Stop messing with the UI and removing customization options.

  13. FuckAI said on February 14, 2024 at 12:54 pm

    The most important thing in browsers is that its a browser. Nothing else, everything else can be done with 3rd party software. Keep bloatware out of firefox. Specially AI. Fricking bad times ahead.

    1. Anonymous said on February 14, 2024 at 3:22 pm

      Exactly. I don’t want AI in the browser, and if I did, that’s why we have add-ons. The browser is bloated enough as it is.

      But (said in a zombie voice) *must… chase… modern… trends…*

      Ironically if they forcefully shoehorn AI into Firefox, it will make me more likely to leave.

  14. p61 said on February 14, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Is there a particular reason you use unrelated pictures for your articles?
    Most readers here may not care but I found it puzzling as some pictures are Japanese street scenes and nothing to do with your articles.
    My message regarding your article Mega launches VPN for Android was ignored by you but the picture there must be removed as Mega Quijote is an existing Japanese company nothing to do with Mega.

    1. 🤖 said on February 14, 2024 at 10:04 pm

      Martin’s the image choice is fine. Personally, I get the impression some the time he either uses AI or an image Search engine for finding specific words, which are loosely related to the articles’ title.

    2. Andy Prough said on February 14, 2024 at 1:43 pm

      The picture looks very appropriate for this article. Maybe it’s just you that can’t see the connections for the pictures.

      1. p61 said on February 14, 2024 at 2:40 pm

        Hello, Andy.

        I must be too dumb to understand how the picture relate to this article.
        The picture is a Softbank robot Pepper standing in front of a luggage shop in Japan, I don’t see any relation to the article.
        So you find the other picture for the Mega article appropriate as well?

      2. Andy Prough said on February 14, 2024 at 8:08 pm

        @p61 – >”So you find the other picture for the Mega article appropriate as well?”

        Yes I absolutely do. You are assigning far too much significance to these pictures. Every other tech site in the world chooses pictures like these for articles on AI or on various tech companies or tech topics, and nearly all of them write catchy headlines that may not be directly related to the topic of the article. If you are complaining about this type of journalism then you are just complaining about the entire tech journalism industry, not Ghacks. If it bothers you that much then use an extension like noscript so you can block images for certain websites.

      3. p61 said on February 15, 2024 at 9:57 am

        Thank you for your reply.

        You must be right as Martin is not interested.
        I must be too old to understand the modern Internet journalistic practices. :)

        Thank you also for your reply, Tachy and Face Emoji Man!

      4. Tachy said on February 14, 2024 at 3:28 pm

        AI injected into the middle of everyday human activity! /doh

  15. Anonymous said on February 14, 2024 at 11:34 am

    “Mozilla never abandoned the browser” I’m sorry but their market share wouldn’t have sank this bad if they were running things right. They may not have abandoned the browser itself but they abandoned what put them on the map for everyone – nowadays it lacks both security and speed compared to Chromium browsers.
    They innovated once but nowadays it’s like continuing to work on antiquated flying balloons while most of the industry has moved to the airplane form factor. Commendable, sure, but in the real world this means nobody cares.

    1. bravet said on February 15, 2024 at 4:57 am

      “nowadays it lacks both security and speed compared to Chromium browsers.”

      Are you serious about the security part, cause there are a lot of zero day exploits that disagree with you.

    2. bruh said on February 14, 2024 at 5:53 pm


      Firefox still works fine, jet plane vs flying balloon is a really bad comparison and comes nowhere near (disingenuous).

      Also, it’s worth noting that Chromium annihilated EVERYBODY, Google is a massive company plus they have the money and power to do more and do it quicker, there’s now a compunding effect caused by their dominance: People only test for Chromium! So no doubt this causes problems – bigger players have bowed out to Chromium than Firefox, so to say “Firefox marketshare means it sucks”, well Microsoft used to develop their own browser on their own platform and even they threw in the towel against Chromium, so even if Firefox is doing a fine job on the browser (can we really tell? it still runs fine),doing a fine job is evidently not enough. At that point it’s less Firefox’s incompetence and more Google’s sheer strength compared to everything else.

    3. Andy Prough said on February 14, 2024 at 1:49 pm

      >”nowadays it lacks both security and speed compared to Chromium browsers”

      Chrome and chromium based browsers are exploited almost constantly due to all the memory related programming errors. Only Firefox has a significant investment in the use of a memory safe programming language.

      Use anything you like, but continuing to make false claims about security given Chrome/chromium’s exploit track record seems nonsensical.

  16. Tomatot said on February 14, 2024 at 10:45 am

    I might be naive, but it’s looking good to me!

  17. Saad said on February 14, 2024 at 9:52 am

    I hope they don’t make it worse. Firefox should prioritize improving performance, as it lags far behind Chrome

  18. Anonymous said on February 14, 2024 at 9:19 am

    I can’t believe they’re going to shut down their mastodon instance, I thought they cared about supporting disadvantaged people – this was a home for so many and now… they’re being deplatformed because of profit and money even though Mozilla is technically a nonprofit.
    Are we supposed to go on Twitter which is so toxic even advertisers have pulled away from en masse?

  19. John G. said on February 14, 2024 at 9:17 am

    At this rate, I think that Mozilla should change its engine to Chromium and don’t look to the past anymore. Yesterday was the first time that I was unable to do two online procedures on government websites with Firefox. I was nearly shocked because this was completely unexpected to me. In fact I though at first that the websites were broken or something. I reinstalled Firefox ESR from scratch, disabled UblockOrigin, set all security protections to the minimum but however the sites were working still bad. Then my father suggested to me to use Chrome and everything was fine. Indeed Chrome is the only browser that works with our national digital ID card, even better than any other Chromium engine (e.g. Vivaldi, Brave and so forth). I like Firefox ESR so much because it’s the easiest way to open PDF-XFAfiles with no Adobe software anymore. :/

    1. bravet said on February 15, 2024 at 5:03 am

      @ John G.

      “Browsers and people must be compliant to the government so we can get our national id card.

      Maybe the government should be compliant to the people and their choice of browser?

      1. John G. said on February 15, 2024 at 10:58 am

        @bravet, they (government guys) said that the national ID card works right with all kind of current browsers, even FF after doing several configurations and installations of the PKCS#11 modules, however in the real life only Chrome works without doing nothing at all. Everything works in Chrome by default, better than any other Chromium browser. No idea why.

    2. VioletMoon said on February 14, 2024 at 4:42 pm

      @John G.–“Yesterday was the first time that I was unable to do two online procedures on government websites with Firefox. I was nearly shocked because this was completely unexpected to me. In fact, I thought at first that the websites were broken or something.”

      Surprised it’s been your “first time”; it’s really a common problem with Firefox, and I know I either have to go to Private Mode to disable all my privacy/security extensions, or open Chrome/Edge. Financial/banking sites are extraordinarily temperamental with Firefox.

      1. John G. said on February 14, 2024 at 11:35 pm

        @VioletMoon, I meant that it was my first time for me to find such strong failures on those government websites that were completely fine for very long years: my university website, the council website and three websites to pay some different taxes (yes, three sites for taxes, the EU countries are very hungry, do you know, (sad face icon here)).

        @bru, there are five browsers installed inside my computer, Brave, Vivaldi, Edge, Firefox ESR and Chrome. Anyway Brave/Vivaldi/Edge and Chrome are Chromium. Firefox is the only one that has different engine, and I use it exclusively for banking and government websites because of its privacy/security/stability.

        However I got very disappointed with FF ESR. It is becoming unpredictable.
        I will maintain Firefox in my computer because it opens the PDF-XFA files.

      2. bruh said on February 14, 2024 at 6:21 pm


        Clearly the developers tested only on Chrome, what else is to be said here? It’s not a great practice and is lazy, but Mozilla makes things work with a delay, 0) incompatibility is created (not by Firefox) 1) incompatibility is detected, 2) it is patched (by Firefox) – there is a delay between getting from point 0) to point 2), that’s what you faced.

        On an unrelated note, I had a banking website problem yesterday, I freaked out and turned off all of extensions, add-ons, tracking protection, etc. Basically an advanced link click-thru wasn’t taking me through to where it needed, and was instead looping back around. I thought “no way can this be possible”, I grabbed a nearby crap-top (windows 10 up to date laptop that we have for fun) and I got the exact same issue in Chrome, so what do you know! I now have to call the bank instead…

        John G. I don’t know when people got out of the habit of having multiple browsers, but I recommend it still.

  20. Red Green said on February 14, 2024 at 9:10 am

    So the total enshitification begins how about them clowns focus on making a browser instead of chasing every new shiney that Google and the other moron corporations comes up with. You know stop messing with the UI every two seconds and make a totally rock solid experience for using it. Instead here they are yet again jumping on the latest hype train scam by the parasites to get the money from the investing rubes the AI GD BS. In case they have not noticed they are a non-profit they do not get to profit from the current roll of the dice by the gamblers on Wall Street and their sheeple they seek to fleece.

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