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Mozilla Foundation Launches Mozilla Corporation 270

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-keeping-kicking-out-out-the-code dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MozillaZine is reporting that the Mozilla Foundation has created a commercial subsidiary to continue development of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird. Don't let the word "commercial" scare you, the new Mozilla Corporation (as it has been dubbed) will be owned 100% by the Mozilla Foundation. The change is mostly a legal/tax thing to avoid the problems of pursuing revenue-generating avenues while remaining a non-profit. There will be no change to the development process and end-users won't notice much difference either. See also the Mozilla Foundation press release about the Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla reorganization FAQ."
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Mozilla Foundation Launches Mozilla Corporation

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  • So. (Score:3, Funny)

    by PsychicX (866028) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:44AM (#13229981)
    It's not enough that Mozilla, this irresponsible pet owner who constantly loses its pets to suspicious ends, is now making a corporation. Its first pet, Phoenix, just vanished. Its second pet, a fox, got set on fire and presumably died. Its two birds are both in bad shape -- one is on fire and one got hit by lightning.

    Would you really invest in such a corporation? How can a dinosaur be trusted to manage a corporation, when it can't even keep its own pets safe??
    • News just in, the dinosaur is extinct.
    • Yeah, obviously the mozilla foundation is submarined by copperheads. The hive took over it, it's rotting from the top. I was actually waiting for a statement on their frontpage, to say "Don't use Mozilla, use Internet Explorer, because 39 out of 40 Mozilla developers surveyed say Internet Explorer provides you with a better total connected-consumer experience." In other news, that 40'th mozilla developer just died from an unfortunate mountain climbing or parachuting accident, we forget which it really was.

      I
      • "After killing a spider, how lonely I feel in the cold of night!" - well, you should have thought about that, before you made that slap. Karma is a bitch, ain't it? If you remember, Netscape was a commercialization attempt of a gov't funded NCSA Mosaic. How far did it go? Nowhere, because, to quote someone, here comes the 300 lb gorilla, and the zookeeper is asleep with his stun-gun.
  • by Knx (743893) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:44AM (#13229987) Homepage
    The change is mostly a legal/tax thing to avoid the problems of pursuing revenue-generating avenues while remaining a non-profit.

    Hmm... This is unusual.

    1. Fix this legal/tax thing
    2. Avoid the problems of pursuing revenue-generating avenues
    3. ???
    4. non-profit!
  • I was under the impression that we should be paying for the software, and that hardware will be free.

    How can these, for the lack of a better term, Hackers be expecting to make a buck off free software??

    Naah, I don't believe in this. I'm with you Mr. Gates.

  • Except... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dante Shamest (813622) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:47AM (#13230008)
    Plus there's nothing wrong with making money for all your hard work!

    That's what I've been saying for years! =(

    -Bill Gates
  • I've always believed that small teams work better and more efficiently, so it sounds a pretty smart move IMO. Hopefully efficient development will lead to better development and and even better browser.

    __
    Laugh daily new video clips [laughdaily.com]
  • by amliebsch (724858) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:48AM (#13230020) Journal
    There's no reason that that a non-profit corporation can't have revenues. In fact, they can have massive revenues. The profits just can't accrue to private profits. So there's really only two reasons I can think of for this change: (1) the folks at Mozilla want to start getting rich, and/or (2) they want to attract private investment (which neccessarily entails revenues accruing to the investors).
    • "(1) the folks at Mozilla want to start getting rich, and/or
      (2) they want to attract private investment

      I had the same thinking. And I am scared by both options (2 more than 1). Ok, maybe they can run Mozilla as a private company (option 1), but something must change for that.
    • Actually there are rules regulating the ways in which non-profits can raise revenues. For example, one couldn't start a non-profit clothing store for the purpose of saving pandas without some sort of negative tax consequence. I can't remember what the consequence is, but it is bad. Frankly, I don't know how starting a corporation helps, but I do know that there is a reason, even if I don't know what the reason is.
      • Just a guess, but you're maybe thinking of the Unrelated Business Income Tax. This makes it so that when a nonprofit engages in a trade or business not directly related to its mission, the proceeds from those operations are subject to tax as though they were a for-profit corporation. But if they become a for-profit corporation, they pay the taxes anyways. So this seems like a weak reason for the switch.
    • So there's really only two reasons I can think of for this change: (1) the folks at Mozilla want to start getting rich, and/or (2) they want to attract private investment (which neccessarily entails revenues accruing to the investors) - actually that's only one reason: the folks at Mozilla want to start getting rich. The second reason is the same.
    • Since the code developed by the Mozilla Foundation is open-source code which can be freely distributed, how could Mozilla Corporation possibly make money?

      Well, Mozilla Corporation (MC) will sell one thing: programming services that tailors Mozilla Foundation's software for the customer. Suppose that a corporate client wants a version of Firefox to uses a special type (e.g., 256-bit ?)of encryption. Then, the programmers at MC modify Firefox's code to incorporate that encryption. The corporate client d

      • I forgot to add the following. In short, Mozilla Corporation (MC) would be similar to IBM Global Services. Services is a very profitable business. Unlike IBM Global Services (which handles all kinds of software), MC specializes in modifying open-source code generated by the Mozilla Foundation.
    • A certain percentage of the income must be from donations to be a non-profit.
      • I believe you're thinking of a charitable organization, to which donations are tax exempt. But you can be a nonprofit without being a charitable organization.
      • Well that certainly isn't true - I used to work for an HMO that was part of a university medical center, and we didn't get any donations (yes, we were our own non-profit corporation, so the U's endowment doesn't count). The best part was one year, we were actually in danger of reaping a huge profit, so one way to zero-out the books was to give bonuses to all employees...
    • I'd say some or most the corporation's revenues get donated to the foundation, creating a better tax situation than if the foundation made the money itself. The corporation would get tax benefits from the donation and the foundation wouldn't pay taxes on the donation they receive.
    • by Brendan Eich (663436) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @04:33PM (#13234323)
      There's no reason that that a non-profit corporation can't have revenues. In fact, they can have massive revenues. The profits just can't accrue to private profits.

      The issue with non-profits in the US is not about accruing "private profits" but about the type of activities pursued for the non-profit's "public benefit purpose". "Acting as if" we were a for-profit entity is a problem, even if we never accrued private profits and never distributed them somehow to the owners (in this case, the Mozilla Foundation is the sole owner).

      So even if we act to further our public-benefit purpose, and distribute funds as grants, or otherwise avoid profit-taking, if our action in the market and with partners resembles for-profit commercial activity, we may lose our non-profit status. That is something the Foundation does not want to risk.

      This is the main reason for the reorganization.

      Yes, it means Firefox is making money, and in ways that may put us in the position of "acting as if" we are a for-profit commercial entity.

      No, we will not start charging for Firefox or any of our other free (beer and speech) products.

      /be

      • The issue with non-profits in the US is not about accruing "private profits" but about the type of activities pursued for the non-profit's "public benefit purpose"

        The only thing this would jeopardize is your status as a charitable nonprofit, donations to which are tax deductible. You could still be a nonprofit corporation even if you were no longer a charitable organization.

    • You hit it on the head, its all about greed and wanting to pocket some cash, be it for the Foundation or for investors. We shouldn't just roll over and let this happen. And yes, there IS something wrong with wanting to make money by the very essence of Mozilla Foundation being non-profit. This is all about direct profits going to Foundation and in turn the Foundation Board members making money off the deal. Its how many, many non-profits skirt the IRS, but its VERY expensive to run a corporation and quit
  • by MBoffin (259181) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:49AM (#13230031) Homepage
    I think one of the underlying reasons for this is Google. It's not explicitly stated that this is the reason, but that's what I read between the lines when reading the FAQ about the reorganization [mozilla.org]. After reading Mitchell Baker's blog [mozillazine.org], I'm almost certain of it (though he doesn't explicitly state it either).

    I think we will be seeing some more serious collaboration between Mozilla and Google now.
    • I think we will be seeing some more serious collaboration between Mozilla and Google now.

      What kind of collaboration would this change enable? Seems to me there's nothing stopping them collaborating now.

      • by Finuvir (596566)
        They are collaborating now. Google employs at least two major Mozilla developers, including the Firefox lead developer Ben Goodger. Also the default Firefox start page is hosted by Google and the default search engine is Google.

        According to Mitchell Baker [mozillazine.org]--MoFo's Chief Lizard Wrangler and the new MoCo's President--the Foundation already generates revenue through "search relationships". No prizes for guessing who she's talking about.

    • No, she [golem.de] doesn't state that explicity, but she does specifically mention workign with "other commercial entities." Google would probably definitely be on that list ... perhaps even their could be a Google-branded version of Firefox? Integration between a Google-branded Thunderbird and Gmail? Whatever it is, after reading Mitchell's blog, I'm convinced that it's big. Very big. IE-killer big.
    • I mean, I know they're both shining examples of niceness, but the amount of sheer webwide clout they could wield...

      How long until we start seeing little icons saying "this site only works with Google Firefox"?
      • How long until we start seeing little icons saying "this site only works with Google Firefox"?

        With IE still having close to 90% market share, can anyone really afford to try such a thing? I don't think even Google could.

  • deviantART? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IAmTheDave (746256) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (ds-evademanesab)> on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:51AM (#13230044) Homepage Journal
    This may be cause for a tiny bit of concern, considering what has been happening over at devianART, with the ousting of jark [deviantart.com] (one of the two original founders) by the corporate entity.

    The lesson of deviantART is that once the corporation starts pursuing profits, and this becomes more important than the community, the origins of the foundation and the original purpose and driving force of the community may become lost.
  • by NickFortune (613926) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:53AM (#13230058) Homepage Journal
    What is the role of the Mozilla Corporation?

    The Mozilla Corporation is responsible for productizing and distributing Firefox, Thunderbird, and related branded products built on the Mozilla open source code base. The Mozilla Corporation's mission, shared by that of the Mozilla Foundation, is to promote choice and innovation on the Internet.

    Whoo, what'd they do - cut and past that last bit from an epiphyte(2) prospectus?

    Sometimes I could almost wish one of these press releases would say our aim is to make the Internet a shittier place for everyone and to gouge the public so deep that their children's children will still be paying off the debt. I wouldn't approve, but at least it would reduce the entropy of the data stream.

    It's not that I suspect the Mozilla corp of anything untoward, and short of omitting it entirely, I can't think of a better way to to say what they appear to be saying.

    All the same, it's a bit semantically null, innit? Where's the point of a FAQ if you fill it with meaningless platitudes?

    • FYI, the parent poster is referencing a moderately humorous passage from Niel Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon

      It reads as such:

      Epiphyte Corp.'s business plan is about an inch thick, neither fat nor skinny as these things go. The interior pages are slickly and groovily desktop-published out of Avi's laptop. The covers are rugged hand-laid paper of rice chaff, bamboo tailings, free-range hemp, and crystalline glacial meltwater made by wizened artisans operating out of a mist-shrouded temple hewn from living v

  • by hkmwbz (531650)
    This could be a good thing if Mozilla wants to grow, although I am puzzled by Mitchell's comment that they won't be pursuing a profit. Is there such a thing as a non-profit corporation? Surely, they will need to turn a profit to bring in money for the Mozilla Foundation?

    One might also wonder how everyone who has contributed to Mozilla's development because it was a project they believed in will feel. A lot of people have contributed to Mozilla through the years, and now Mozilla is going to profit?

    In the

    • I can't speak for Mitchell, but I presume that when she wrote about "not pursuing a profit" she was referring to the fact that the goal of traditional "for profit" corporations is to pursue profits in order to maximise the financial value for shareholders (private or public). That is not the case for the Mozilla Corporation; its charter is not to maximize shareholder value but rather to advance the mission of the Mozilla Foundation.
  • Keep an eye on the Firefox Extensions page for my imminent release, The Firefox Anti-Corporate Extension, which will remove the word "Corporation" from the the About pop-up.

    Thank God for the awesome power and flexibility of extensions.
  • Will this help (Score:4, Interesting)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @09:54AM (#13230063) Journal
    Fix the issues with filtering/moving emails around in your folders in Thunderbird? I'm getting close to being forced to abandon Thunderbird. I send an email and I cannot copy it into the sent folder (and I must have copies of my sent email) The filters stop functioning and I have to shutdown and restart Thunderbird to even manually copy the email to the correct folder.

    Don't take this as a flame, I've used Netscape Messenger/Thunderbird since around 1997, but I am starting to have way to many problems... I've seen bug reports about this for several years now, yet no fix gets released. (Thunderbird hardly gets any new releases compared to Firefox)

    My programming skills are minimal otherwise I would try myself to fix it...

    Anyone know of another email client? (mainly for windows, Eudora, Pegasus, and Outlook) are either not options or I do not like them.

    I like Thunderbird... It's a shame that it's such a task to use with this problem...
    • Funny, I haven't noticed this. I do get emails which randomly appear in the wrong accounts - an email sent to my business account will show up both there and in my personal inbox *shrug*. Its free (beer)...hard to complain too much.

      I take it the "Copies & Folders" section isn't sending your sent items to the desired folders, or bcc'ing the right folks?
    • "Anyone know of another email client?

      My wife just tried Thunderbird. It imported email from 3 accounts in the Mozilla suite. It mixed up all the mail between accounts. I switched to Fedora this spring, which uses Evolution for email and I like it just fine. There is a Windows port of Evolution [sourceforge.net] in the works, but there is no firm timeframe for release yet. I see that it sent it's first message recently.

    • operas email client works quite nicely

      haven't tried opera 8 yet though (still using 7.x)

      ps. if you ever think about switching, do! apples Mail is wonderful. not the fastest but it works oh so nicely :)
    • Try Becky [rimarts.co.jp] - it's free, it's fast and there are quite a few plugins and themes out there if you look (just watch out for the japaneseness)
    • Try mutt [mutt.org]. Yes, it's a text-mode client, and yes, it will take some getting used to, but it's quite addictive once you do get used to it.

      If you're on windows, then you can probably run it in Cygwin - I haven't tried that, but I doubt there'll be much problems.
    • Re:Will this help (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jurt1235 (834677) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @10:26AM (#13230274) Homepage
      You can help in the following way: Instead of your time, you can use a small bonus for the person who solves the problem. That way you and the community both benefit from it.
      • I'd gladly put up a small bounty to fix the memory leaks that Firefox is having. I came back from to my desktop after leaving about 7 browser windows open (I don't like tabs), and Firefox was consuming 614 megabytes of memory and was very sluggish.
        • That is a whoppping amount of memory (-:. I know that problem, but I thought it got less with the newer versions, and mainly shows when java plugin is used (can get the system to a grinding halt).
    • odd ive never noticed that problem

      i have about 30 email accounts in thunderbird and filters for each (plus extra filters for other items)

      if you have multiple accounts, are you setting up copies of each filter for each account? it was a pain but thats what i had to do, basically i created the filters once in thunderbird, exited it, and manually copied the filter files into every other mailbox directory so they would apply to each acount

      also my filters are based on the x-account header (so that mail from spec
    • Be sure to check bugzilla.mozilla.org to see if the issue that you're experiencing is a known issue -- and write up a bug if not.

      You can also try running one of the nightly builds (see, for example, The Rumbling Edge [mozillazine.org]) to see if that gives you a better experience. Nightlies are untested and may have even worse bugs, of course.

    • Try Becky - excellent IMAP/POP/SMTP MUA (I assume you're a Windows user).
      It can copy sent mails to the Sent folder and has many other nice features.

      http://www.rimarts.co.jp/becky.htm [rimarts.co.jp]

  • Becoming a corporation doesn't mean that an entity is all of a sudden going to change its practices and start pillaging the public. I am a corporation. The only reason is for liability and tax reasons. It makes it easier for me to hire and place subcontractors, and to pay them.

    In the long run, this will probably be 100% transparent to everyone besides Mozilla, the IRS, and some of their business partners. It shouldn't affect their product at all.
  • It sounds like Mozilla is just putting on a suit and some nice slacks (or perhaps a smart looking suit and skirt combo). I agree with their motives as stated though since generally the tax situation for a nonprofit that has significant revenues is a little dicey. At least that's what I've heard. And oddly enough, if Firefox, etc. come from a Corp. it'll remove one more mental barrier that some companies have about adopting OSS. Afterall, if it comes from Company Inc. it must be good, right?
    • Indeed. Putting a corporate face on the product will help its adoption by the corporate world.

      There are never and mod points around when you need them.
  • On the FAQ page it begins by saying "The Mozilla Corporation is a taxable subsidiary that serves the non-profit, public benefit goals of its parent, the Mozilla Foundation" yet Corporations have a duty to profit and serving the interest of its shareholders, not the public benefit. This is going to piss a lot of people off no matter what kind of spin they put on it.
  • While suspicion is admittedly the kneejerk reaction, I'm assuming that Mozilla.org, like any other organisation, needs to find ways to pay the bills.

    What will be most interesting will be seeing if they can resist the instinctive corporate urge to commit gradual financial and PR suicide via the usual scorched-earth tactics. A turn to the Dark Side probably is not inevitable, but given the usual nature of corporations, it probably would not come as a surprise.
  • I see no reason for concern at all. Even in the event Mozilla would get completely corrupted by moneygrabbers, the source is still out there, and there are good alternatives, too.
  • I guess that with a corporation, they'll be finally able to do DECENT tv commercials (not the funny ones that were on the web).

    Just a thought.
  • by Everyman (197621) on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @12:04PM (#13231136) Homepage
    I have asked Mozilla Foundation for a copy of their 2004 Form 990, which would reveal how much money they took in from Google. Rumor has it that it's tens of millions. I'm curious about whether they filed a 990-T to pay taxes on this unrelated business income. Mozilla is late with their 2004 filing, just as they were with their 2003 filing. It's clear that there is a massive jump in income from 2003, which was appropriate for a nonprofit, to 2004, which promises to be more interesting. There is no question in my mind that the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity status is not the ideal vehicle for laundering Google's lucre. It raises too many eyebrows.

    The sellout to Google is quite substantial. We all know about the prefetch for the Google search bar, and how you can disable this in about:config under network.prefetch-next if you don't like collecting cookies from places that you never visit.

    What's not commonly known is that this configuration option does not affect the behavior of terms entered in the address bar. If Firefox cannot parse the URL, it will go to Google and pick up the number one site, and then take you there directly. It's like a built-in "I'm feeling lucky."

    Convenient? Sure, assuming that a huge percentage of surfers haven't a clue about the difference between search terms entered in a search box, and a URL entered in an address bar. Studies show that this is indeed the case.

    Explorer does something similar, in that a search term in the address bar will take you to a search preview, assuming that you don't have Active Scripting disabled. But arguably, this is more benevolent than what Firefox is doing with Google. The way that Firefox is doing it gives Google much more control over web traffic patterns. It makes it much more important to be number one on Google for your selected keywords than it is to be number one on MSN for the same keywords, if everything else is equal.

    And it's not like Google's first result is always the best. Recent studies show wide disparity between various engines for the top results.

    Moreover, all the several-year-old Google bombs still work. Except one, that is. I made a Google bomb for "out-of-touch executives" that led to Google's corporate executives page. It was doing great in all the engines for the first half of 2004, and even got mentioned in the New York Times in June, 2004. But then Google defused this particular bomb by doing a hand job on their algorithm in July, 2004. It disappeared in Google, and I took my links down. But it was a great bomb nonetheless, and is still doing fine in Yahoo and MSN.

    So Google cannot even claim that their mathematical methods are untainted by self-interested sabotage in certain cases. That makes them evil. And with Firefox going along with their game plan, that moves Firefox one step closer to the dark side.
    • > There is no question in my mind that the
      > 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity status is
      > not the ideal vehicle for laundering Google's
      > lucre.

      I don't know why you'd have a problem with "laundering Google's lucre" when the money goes to develop a great open source web browser and break Microsoft's grip on the web.

      > But then Google defused this particular bomb by
      > doing a hand job on their algorithm in July,
      > 2004.

      How exactly do you know it was done by hand? Someone at Google must have
    • "And it's not like Google's first result is always the best. Recent studies show wide disparity between various engines for the top results."

      Exactly. You are Daniel Brandt, the guy behind google-watch.org [google-watch-watch.org], and you created GW because your insignificant site which no one linked to wasn't ranked as #1 on Google for searches on people in the U.S. administration.

      You were pissed off, and decided to have your revenge. Daniel is your name, Slander and lies against Google is your game.

      You basically have no c

    • The sellout to Google is quite substantial. We all know about the prefetch for the Google search bar, and how you can disable this in about:config under network.prefetch-next if you don't like collecting cookies from places that you never visit.

      Link prefetching has been in Mozilla for ages now, and anyone can write a web page to take advantage of it. How, then, would this qualify as "selling out to Google"?

  • ...The Book of Mozilla [about].

    It's still on verse 7:15. No mention of the great bird of fire begetting the sacred Fox of flames at all!

    I think those cowardly followers of Mammon have some control over publication of the good book. Say it ain't so!

  • "The change is mostly a legal/tax thing to avoid the problems of pursuing revenue-generating avenues while remaining a non-profit."

    This is like a zen koan of accounting. The doublespeak that is so familiar to corporate America.

    "Uh, yeah Bob, we're gonna have to take our money making discussion off-line because of Sarbanes-Oxley so that we can sort out some of the tax implications of the outstanding revenue from Q3, which we want to preserve for our earnings estimates despite the obvious effects against our
  • From Planet Mozilla: D.Glazman blog [glazman.org]

    Cons:
    ...
    3. stricter division of workforce between "mozilla products" that generate revenue, and "mozilla projects" that don't generate revenue, potentially disadvantaging the latter.


    I hope this is not true. I'd hate to see a firefox Pro version that you need to buy, and a separate lesser free version of firefox.
  • by cshark (673578)
    It strikes me as odd that Mitch Kapor would go for this.
  • The End (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _aa_ (63092) <(sw.uaau) (ta) (j)> on Wednesday August 03, 2005 @08:07PM (#13236275) Homepage Journal
    This is outrageous. There's absolutly no law against non-profit organizations seeking, earning, and keeping revenue. The real story here is that Mozilla has become profitable, and is moving so that those in control can take advantage of it. This is not how successful open source projects should behave. They should not beg for donations so they can advertize (see spreadfirefox), and any profits they earn should go back into the project, then to the developers, and then into the open source community.

    Let me preface my next statement by saying that I love and use firefox exclusivly, but it's time for firefox to fork so it stops fucking up the mozilla foundation.

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