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Looking Into Mozilla's Financial Success 129

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the take-a-piece-of-that-action dept.
NewsCloud writes "'Thanks to the Google agreement, the Mozilla Foundation went from revenue of nearly $6 million in 2004 to more than $52 million the next year [similar revenue is expected in 2006]...In 2005, the foundation created a subsidiary, the for-profit Mozilla Corporation,...mainly to deal with the tax and other issues related to the Google contract...By creating a corporation to run the Firefox project, Mozilla was committing to be less transparent. In part, that is because Google insists on the secrecy of "its arrangement and agreements," said board member Mitch Kapor.' The NYT article compares this approach to Wikipedia's ongoing fundraisers and raises the issue of transparency in open source projects. i.e. should Firefox's 1,000 to 2,000 developers and 80,000 evangelists have full knowledge of how revenue is spent as well as the extent to which Google is able to influence strategy vs. other stakeholders."
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Looking Into Mozilla's Financial Success

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  • amusing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:10PM (#19209609) Journal
    FTA:

    Finally, there is the problem of what Mozilla should do with the money, at least the portion that isn't being reinvested in the Firefox.

    Yes, well, bring that up on the Slashdot if you want some suggestions on where to spend the money. Maybe even ask the Google about it, since that's where the money came from.

    I don't know why use of "the" here amuses me so much, but it makes the author seem very unfamiliar with the companies and products they are writing about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eln (21727)
      The correct thing for anyone to do when encountered with a sudden massive increase in wealth is to write a ridiculous article [linuxtoday.com] about it. That way, with any luck, the article can go from merely silly to pants-wettingly hilarious when the money goes up in smoke later.

      • by jez9999 (618189)
        Hmm, from what I can see from that story, ESR got about 150,000 shares in VA Linux when they went public. He said he had about $36,000,000 at the time, when the stock was trading at $239 per share. Yahoo! Finance says it's currently trading at about $4, which leaves him with about 150,000 * 4 = $600,000. Still seems like quite a lot, and that's assuming he *didn't* sell any off preciously, which he probably did.
    • by skam240 (789197)
      I don't know why use of "the" here amuses me so much, but it makes the author seem very unfamiliar with the companies and products they are writing about.

      I thought the author was insinuating that Mozilla was putting its money into the 1980's, Soviet, thought-controlled, mach 6 capable, stealth fighter piloted by Clint Eastwood. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083943/plotsummary [imdb.com]
      • by iggymanz (596061)
        Firefoxes! That would be some kick-ass promotional vehicles for open source, not like a lame Linux Indi racer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836)

      Yes, well, bring that up on the Slashdot if you want some suggestions on where to spend the money.

      Sure, I'll make a suggestion. $52M spread over 1000 developers means an average compensation of $52,000 per developer -- naturally, scaled based on the relative contributions of each. So some may only make $100 while others may make $1M. Even if you consider their entire 2004 revenue of $6M is taken up by expenses and that it holds true today, that still leaves an average of $48,000 per developer. Shouldn't this be the way contributors to open source get rewarded? Or will they make nothing except for

      • MSOC would be a better idea IMHO. Money for new features.

        Mozilla could even extend it far beyond Mozilla (why not KDE, Gnome, GCC, Perl (Javascript on Parrot?), etc. pp.?)

        Btw. I think the deal with Google is *so* good, that e.g. the KDE guys (Konqueror) should do a similiar deal too.

        Bye egghat.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:11PM (#19209611)
    Apparently its ok for Google to chuck cash at Mozilla to default to them, but they dont want the terms of the deal disclosed? Dodgy. Imagine the screaming hissy fits about conspiracy if Microsoft brokered a similar deal with Opera to default to whatever MS call their seach engine these days (yes I know Google got there first as well).
    • by Xybre (527810) <fantm_mage@yahoo.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:22PM (#19209723) Homepage
      It's hard to see that which is transparent.

      In any case, as much of a paranoid individual I am, I think that Google *has* to be secretive. Google has been targeted by Microsoft, Yahoo, and other huge companies which have a long history of play really really dirty. Google has been around a while now and has no real history of being dirty. Their NDA for interviews which slashdotters freaked about, if they had RTFA and then read the NDA, most of them would have seen the articles took clauses out of context, which you simply can't do, and in context it made sense.

      If I were a rather new, but large, rich company with a lot to lose, I'd be keeping as many secrets as I could from the companies and people who would love to see me fail.

      Know your enemy, and make sure it doesn't know you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Xtravar (725372)
        How has Yahoo played dirty? Just curious... I don't recall anything in particular.
      • by kels (9845)
        The question is not whether transparency is in Google's interest (they certainly think that it is). The question is whether transparency is in the interest of Mozilla/Firefox, and ultimately of its users.
      • by enjo13 (444114)
        The issue isn't Google, it's the Mozilla foundation. Just as you posit that Google *has* to be secretive, the Mozilla people *have* to be transparent and open. They represent the collective work of thousands of developers, each of home should enjoy 'ownership' in what they ultimately produce. With upwards of $50 million in play, they definitely deserve to know where that money came from and how it's being used.
        • by rtb61 (674572)
          Not really, for the microtrolls amongst us, it is the separation of church and state (crazy OS religionists that they are).

          You have the open source package which is the Firefox code, and you have a separate company which happens to do Firefox coding and distribution, no different to Ubuntu, Redhat or even Novell in terms of Linux. Apart from of course that company got dibs on the name 'Firefox' which strictly literally speaking might not be all that kosher (see another religious reference for all the micr

      • by mpcooke3 (306161)
        Google has been around a while now and has no real history of being dirty

        Well I'm not sure what you mean by dirty but I certainly wouldn't blindly trust a company that produced the Google-Ministry-for-Truth [google.cn] and Google-For-Domain-Squatters [google.com] projects.
    • by poadshaw (1056186) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:28PM (#19209791) Homepage
      I disagree,
      I didn't pay for Firefox. It's a rockin' product, but how does the fact that I use it give me any rights to see what deals the owner's / developers of this F/OSS project have? I think the problem is on the other side. Google is a publicly traded company, so they should have their stock holders asking them the tough questions, not bothering a F/OSS project.
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        Well, quite a few people put time and effort into developing Mozilla products. I'd kinda like to see some of the biggest contributors get paid, as a gesture of goodwill.
    • If the Mozilla Foundation goes down a path of secret agreements, proprietary code, and strings-attached Google sponsorship, then wouldn't the original contibutors that want to continue on with the original project goals be considered forkers? Iceweasal anyone [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by R2.0 (532027)
        Did anyone else read that as
        "a path of secret agreements, proprietary code, and G-strings attached sponsorship"?

        Anyone?

        (Man, I need to get laid more often)
    • by traindirector (1001483) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:43PM (#19209925)

      Imagine the screaming hissy fits about conspiracy if Microsoft brokered a similar deal with Opera to default to whatever MS call their seach [sic] engine

      I can't imagine the screaming hissy fits if Microsoft made this type of deal with Opera. I doubt there would be any. Opera has no more responsibility to its developers than any other for-profit corporation. And they're free to follow money wherever it may lead.

      Mozilla deals are different because the Mozilla non-profit organization is a representation of the community that develops Gecko and the projects they base on it. When a for-profit company is founded with an ambiguous relationship with the original organization, the role of the development community comes into question. Sure, they're still be contributing to GPL code, but will the spirit of the project still inspire such developer devotion, with so much non-paid contribution? Could they?

      • by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:08PM (#19210209) Homepage
        "When a for-profit company is founded with an ambiguous relationship with the original organization, the role of the development community comes into question."

        What exactly is ambiguous about this relationship. Mozilla has been building search into the browser for about 8 years now. Google has been the default for almost as long. Google, along with other search companies, recently (a couple of years ago) started paying Mozilla for this feature. Mozilla discloses its full financials each year. Mozilla has said, repeatedly, that the bulk of revenue comes from search partners and that the majority of search revenue comes from (obviously) the default search service. Where's the ambiguity?
      • There was some outcry when Opera recently decided to change its builtin search engine for its mobile browsers from Google to Yahoo [opera.com].

    • by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:12PM (#19210261) Homepage
      "Apparently its ok for Google to chuck cash at Mozilla to default to them,"

      Actually, we've been defaulting to Google as the default search engine for about 8 years, long before there was a financial relationship.
    • Imagine the screaming hissy fits about conspiracy if Microsoft brokered a similar deal with Opera to default to whatever MS call their seach engine these days (yes I know Google got there first as well).
      Apparently the deal fell through. My employer provides blackberries to all and I noticed a couple months ago that the Opera mini search bar changed from google (which it was for 2-ish years at least) to yahoo search.
    • Is the software free (as per FSF's definition?)

      The good guys are the ones that keep these fundamental freedoms. The bad guys would be the ones limiting our computing infrastructure choices and imposing artificial lock ins.

      Fill in the blanks as appropriate.

      I don't care which commercial deals are agreed between the different entitites supporting differen software projects, if they want to trade first borns it is up to them, I just want software I can migrate if necessary and that does not kidnap my data by fo
  • It will be interesting to see how much influence the Mozilla Corporation becomes on the project.

    Given the way money and power corrupt, I'd say there's a fork coming in the next 10 years.

    All hail the IceWeasel! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceweasel [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Here We Go.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by speardane (905475) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:30PM (#19209801)
      sorry what is the difference from Sun or IBM or any other big corporation sponsoring developers?

      I expect to get paid, I am not surprised when others do too...

      I don't buy this quasi-religious non-corporate ethos as the best justification for open source - it's better engineering because it gets quality unrestricted peer review

      I want a quality, well engineered genuinely innovative OS - what better justification?

      as long as Google etc... etc... don't suddenly expect to own the code it's great

      • Re:Here We Go.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xappax (876447) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:48PM (#19209971)
        I expect to get paid, I am not surprised when others do too...

        The thousands of volunteers who do much of the actual work on Firefox don't expect to get paid in dollars, but they do expect to be "rewarded" with some kind of involvement and input in their own project.

        This isn't so much about Google giving money to Mozilla as it is about Mozilla obfuscating its processes from its own volunteers. Google is giving giant amounts of money to Mozilla because of the hard work of the Firefox volunteers. I don't think the volunteers expect a dime of that money, or even a vote on how it's spent, but they'd probably at least like to be able to offer suggestions on how to spend it. As it stands, they aren't even allowed to know what's happening to the money, or what kind of agreements were attached to it.

        The obvious response to this complaint is "Well, it's open source; If you don't like it, go fork your own browser!", and I suspect exactly that may happen if Mozilla continues to show this kind of disrespect to the people who are, to a large degree, responsible for the foundation's success.
        • Re:Here We Go.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:44PM (#19210695) Homepage
          "This isn't so much about Google giving money to Mozilla as it is about Mozilla obfuscating its processes from its own volunteers."

          What exactly is Mozilla doing to obfuscate its processes? Is providing a dial-in number to the weekly Mozilla planning meetings some kind of obfuscation? How about dial-in numbers for the Firefox meetings and the Gecko meetings and the Support meetings and the Marketing meetings? Is that also obfuscation? How about the public Mozilla wiki that documents all of the product and project proposals, roadmaps, PRDs, buglists, etc.? More obfuscation? And the newsgroups where all of the planning discussions happen, where all of the tricky technical issues are openly evaluated? And an open bug tracking tool where all of our implementation bugs and patches are publicly discussed, reviewed, and explained? Is that just more obfuscation? How about the annual financial disclosures where the community can see exactly how much revenue Mozilla generated? And the announcements of all of our new hires (many, including project and product leads hired from volunteers in the community) All obfuscated?
          • Keeping anything at all secret just gives we coders with no experience in running big companies a bad feeling. Listing all the parts that are not secret is disingenuous and does not do much at all to alleviate that bad taste in our mouths about the part that is. (Especially since you were a bit obnoxious about it.) :)
            I bet a lot of us still have a bad taste in our mouth when our employers tell us to keep our salaries a secret. :) Yes, it's part of the business world, and just "how things work." But I,
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by asa (33102)
              "Yes, it's part of the business world, and just "how things work."

              We're actually trying to use our leverage to change "how things work" in the business world. A good example would be our "companion" program. We've partnered with several large companies to build customized versions of Firefox that include new and powerful features to compliment their services. Because these partners find value in Firefox and working with Mozilla, we've been able to convince them that the code for their "companion" should b
      • by mpapet (761907)
        sorry what is the difference from Sun or IBM or any other big corporation sponsoring developers?

        You are blurring the ways that an IBM or Sun interact with GPL'd projects versus mozilla for the sole purpose of disagreeing with my bias. Please, read on....

        I want a quality, well engineered genuinely innovative OS - what better justification?

        1. That's okay except history is full of organizations where success literally crushes innovation. The specter of failure looms large. So large, no risks are taken.

        2. In
  • by crush (19364) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:14PM (#19209639)
    When you compare the reason that the free SSL certificate providers like CAcert have been kept out of Mozilla's root certificate list (because CAcert can't pay up $250,000 for a bullshit audit from some US accountancy organisation which proves that CAcert won't mismanage funds), and now we have Mozilla doing secret deals with Google (and who knows, they could do them with Microsoft in the future). Mozilla is moving rapidly into the EvilNonOpenCompany territory... but at least the code is all GPLed.
    • by kebes (861706) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:37PM (#19209861) Journal

      but at least the code is all GPLed
      (Actually Mozilla products are not released under the GPL but rather their own open-source license [wikipedia.org].) The fact that it is open-source is the crucial bit, since that's what, ultimately, gives the users the power in this whole situation. And that's why I'm not worried.

      Thus far, Mozilla has done nothing but good things (in my opinion). They have created a nice browser and email client, distributed them as open-source, and have been aggressively promoting their products and FLOSS in general. In short, I trust them... because they have earned that trust with their actions.

      So, with regard to this Google deal, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are making decisions that benefit the community. So far, we have no evidence of anything shady about the deal. (They have disclosed that the money is in exchange for Google being the default, but not the only, engine in the search bar... which is fine in my book.)

      However, I'm not a fool (or at least I like to think so). And if Mozilla is found guilty of shady deals, or "betraying" the community of people who are currently evangelizing and supporting Mozilla, then I will change my stance quickly--as will most others in the community I think. The important point is that because the source-code is available to the community, everyone is empowered to fork the project and ignore Mozilla if that becomes necessary. It would be a shame to loose the Firefox brand, but at least the work that went into the codebase would not be lost.

      It is this "power to the community" that makes me not worry so much... both because it means that if Mozilla becomes "evil" we have an immediate counter-reaction... and also because the existence of this possible counter-reaction makes it rather unlikely for Mozilla to ever turn their back on the community.
      • by d3matt (864260) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:42PM (#19209917) Homepage
        Actualy, Firefox is tri-licensed [wikipedia.org]. So take your pick. If you want to redistribute the code under the GPL, feel free to do so.
      • by gkhan1 (886823)
        You're actually wrong there, Mozilla Products (Firefox, at least), are triple-licensed using the MPL, GPL and LGPL. Originally, they were only licensed using the MPL, but they went to some trouble to add the GPL and LGPL. See their relicensing FAQ [mozilla.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "Thus far, Mozilla has done nothing but good things (in my opinion). ... I trust them... because they have earned that trust with their actions. ... So, with regard to this Google deal, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are making decisions that benefit the community. So far, we have no evidence of anything shady about the deal."

        I disagree. There is plenty that is shady in Mozilla and it's increasing.

        Basically, there is a force within the Mozilla Foundation that's dedica
    • CAcert? They are free? What is their financial incentive to undergo the heavy security investment required to keep their root private key secure?

      How much money do they spend, per cert, verifying that the certs they issue are to legitimate businesses and not to phishing scams?

      What does CAcert have to lose if they make a serious mistake, such as issuing a major bank certificate to a scammer?

      With free SSL certificates, is there any sort of money trail to follow to hunt down and prosecute criminals who abuse th
      • What does CAcert have to lose if they make a serious mistake, such as issuing a major bank certificate to a scammer?

        Pretty much the same as when Verisign/Thawte issued a certificate for "Microsoft Corp." to a malware provider, allowing them to sign their code as Microsoft?

        In other words, "not a fucking thing".

    • by Gerv (15179)
      So it's not necessary to have any independent confirmation that a CA (who, after all, ends up being trusted by every user of the software) actually has some level of competence? So you'd add FreeFreeFreeCerts (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2334 58 - Slashdot referers disabled in Bugzilla) to the root store?
      • by crush (19364)
        Your only distinguishing measure of competence at this stage is $US250,000.
        • by Gerv (15179)
          You think CACert, as it is now, would pass a WebTrust audit if it had the money? Really?
  • It's not so much that the Mozilla Corporation continues to paddle around in the murky waters as it's more about how *content* the Mozilla Corporation is to be in murky waters.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do slightly less evil than Microsoft
  • scale (Score:3, Informative)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:18PM (#19209687) Homepage Journal
    we are used to looking at systems and asking, 'will it scale?'
     
    when you look at the products that do scale- or implement something at a very large scale, it takes money. i've not seen an exception yet. i don't care about firefox, google and their deal - as long as the browser works the way i want.
     
    on a side note-- as for what to do with the 'extra' money. i'd love to see it invested in making other open apps - like sunbird and thunderbird great.
  • by traindirector (1001483) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:18PM (#19209691)

    Any time a project gets big and starts bringing in money, it gives up a certain amount of control that each person who works on it previously had. When I heard they were making a for-profit corporation to make secretive deals with massive corporations like Google, I initially thought things were worse than they are. But there's no question that there's a slippery slope in this deal where an open-source project that was previously fueled by the interest of developers could become entrenched and weighed down by the monetary and business aspects in the politics of a company.

    The best way to keep things open and developers interested is to release all the information except that which Google requires be kept secret. It's already pretty clear the type of revenue that is coming from the Google. When things get this large, it's easy for those interested in developing to fall out of touch with something that resembles Microsoft a lot more than a community undertaking.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by monk.e.boy (1077985)

      Tricky isn't it? We all want Firefox (and open standards) to beat Flash, Sliverlight etc. to beat coporate lock in.

      But is that open standards browser now a corporate lock in?

      But, but... "do no evil"... we can trust google?

      I say take their money, buy some good developers, then run ;-)

      monk.e.boy

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by asa (33102)
        "But is that open standards browser now a corporate lock in? But, but... "do no evil"... we can trust google?"

        What corporate lock-in? We've been providing built in search in Mozilla applications for the better part of a decade. We have always provided multiple search services and an easy mechanism for adding additional services (there are about 12,000 alternative search services here: http://mycroft.mozdev.org/ [mozdev.org] )

        You don't have to trust Google. You can decide whether or not you trust Mozilla to pick reasona
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by asa (33102)
      "The best way to keep things open and developers interested is to release all the information except that which Google requires be kept secret."

      We did this for both 2004 and 2005 and will be doing it for the 2006 year financials (and then 2007 after that.) There is nothing secret here except the specific financial details that Google will not allow to be disclosed. It's not that hard to look at the Mozilla financials, read the statements from Mozilla explaining that the overwhelming majority of Mozilla's r
  • That's a lot of money. I hope the developers who did all the work don't come to feel taken advantage of through the maneuverings of these foundations and corporations. Transparency is the only way I know to handle this kind of thing.

    What's the point of the secrecy in the google deal anyway?

    How about Mozilla opens the kimono? If Google likes secrecy more than the deal itself, I'm sure that MSN or Yahoo or another competitor will be happy to take their place...
  • And this is surprising because? It should be no surprise that the same people churning out PR about "Web OS" vaporware (Mozilla) are financed by the company that would stand to gain the most with a "Web OS" (Google).

    i.e. should Firefox's 1,000 to 2,000 developers and 80,000 evangelists have full knowledge of how revenue is spent

    Hmmm...a couple hundred/thousand contributors in the dark and a $52M bullseye. I'm not a lawyer, but if I was I'd probably be busy trolling for anyone wanting to class-action -iti

  • I'm glad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Monday May 21, 2007 @12:34PM (#19209837) Journal
    I'm happy Mozilla is making a nice amount of money, that's really the point we are trying to make with the GPL isn't it? you can still be commercially viable and open source - don't fear it...

    I would also say that there is no danger for the community, it'd be really easy to fork it if things really got that bad... hell, we already have Ice Weasel...
  • No, Mozilla's developers and evangelists should not have more control over the ways money is spent. People who live lower on the totem pole often do not understand the true costs and requirements of doing business. 2000 developers arguing over the neccessity of spending a few hundred dollars will do no good for the overall project.

    Some will claim that only a small percentage of the overall developer base will be interested in it, but this is still an invalid position. If they want to participate in those ki
    • I hate to sound like a pure fanboy, but I thought this was one of the most reasonable posts in the whole thread.

      The fact is, if they're taking in that much income then they chose a wise strategy - one of several possible ones - for dealing with the tax implications. The IRS doesn't like nonprofits that take in ever-larger piles of cash without (somewhat) commensurate outlays, so this is a cash-management strategy as much as anything. Could the foundation start donating wildly to other open-source projects?

  • Do slightly less evil than Microsoft

    Aren't we all?

  • They should spend the money to develop the social networking features that their userbase is begging for. Then, they should integrate a calendar and mail client, and only make it available as one big download.

    They could call it... Mozilla Navigator...

    No, but seriously. How about paying some major contributing developers, and maybe hire some on full time to develop better web standards support, instead of fucking around with features like social networking and offline browsing. Features that are way out o
  • by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:01PM (#19210121) Homepage
    "By creating a corporation to run the Firefox project, Mozilla was committing to be less transparent."

    And this follow from what? There is nothing about the existence of the Mozilla Corporation that commits us to being less transparent. That's just bunk and it makes no sense given how transparent we are from our development process and planning to our financials.

    As far as the details of specific financial relationships with search partners, those were never disclosed in detail (long before the creation of the Mozilla Corporation, in Mozilla Foundation days) and probably won't be since our various partners weren't then aren't now willing to divulge the specifics of their financial relationships with anyone. Mozilla is as transparent as we can be around those relationships, releasing our annual financials and explaining that the bulk of it comes from relationships with various search partners including our default search, Google.

    The article overall is fine, but that line is just fiction.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:11PM (#19210249) Homepage
    From the search box in firefox do a search on Amazon. Look at the url. See that, "mozilla-20" in the url? That's mozilla's Amazon Associate link. So if you, like me, tend to buy stuff from Amazon after searchinf for it with the firefox search box, then Mozilla is getting a percentage of whatever you buy. I don't mind that, but I've just never seen it mentioned anywhere. It would be nice if they were a bit more upfront about that kind of income as well
    • Of course they don't talk about it. The F/OSS movement generally regards software doing something without the users informed to be evil. Making money off of someone, without telling them, is (IMO) a characteristic of spyware or malware - not software I want to use.
      • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday May 21, 2007 @02:16PM (#19211185) Homepage

        In my opinion that's exactly the wrong way to look at it, at least when we're talking about Amazon affiliate links. Instead, I look at it this way: Whenever you buy a n item at Amazon.com without using an affiliate code, you're throwing money away - you could be using an affiliate link and donating that money to someone you wanted to support. The fact that Mozilla sets that affiliate ID to a reasonable default (support the browser you're using) when you explicitly use the built in Amazon search box is a feature, not a bug.

        • The fact that Mozilla sets that affiliate ID to a reasonable default (support the browser you're using) when you explicitly use the built in Amazon search box is a feature, not a bug.

          How, precisely, is it a feature to do something without my consent? I don't object to donating to a cause I support - I object to donating without having consented to doing so. It doesn't matter if the company is Mozilla or Microsoft, the principle remains the same. (I know that makes me unusual nowadays - not only in havi

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by kchrist (938224)
            The important thing to realize here is that you're not donating anything. Amazon is donating, in the form of the referral credit they're paying for the sale of a book to you. You pay the same amount regardless. This is how affilate programs work.

            • Yeah. And Mozilla is saying to Amazon, "this guy here, he wants his affiliate referral credit to come to us", which is by no means necessarily the case. At worst, it is misrepresentation.
            • My identity is being used without my permission. My choice of which sites to browse is being used for profit. The important thing to realize here is that Mozilla is doing so without informing me and without obtaining my consent.
               
              No matter how much you try and spin it - to do so is wrong.
        • Except you don't have a choice about who you "want to support". Via the (default) search engine provider, Mozilla is your affiliate. Want to change that? Oh, no problem. Learn about the XPI, rewrite the JavaScript. Not a problem!

          Why would it not be entirely simple to allow users to opt in? You know, that concept that we generally like to cheer, not forcing users to opt out of using specific functionality?

          • Somehow I don't see the other option (default to donating to Amazon.com) as being better than what they have now. If you want to use a different affiliate link, you can always click through to Amazon.com from somewhere else.

          • Actually it isn't that hard. Just go into the searchplugins folder (in Windows it is the one in the program files folder, not your user folder) open the amazon film in a text processor and where it says mozilla-20 put in a different referral id and then save. That's it.

            If you buy a lot of stuff from Amazon it is worth opening your own Amazon associate account and putting your own id in there. I'm sure it is against Amazon's terms of service but I've done it for over a year and Amazon has given me the refe
        • It's not free money. Amazon paying money to the people surreptitiously using referral codes means that Amazon charges more to the consumer overall.
          • Amazon paying money to the people surreptitiously using referral codes means that Amazon charges more to the consumer overall.

            That's true, to some extent, but Amazon charges you the same price whether you use a referral code. If you don't like Amazon's referral-code based marketing plan, buy your books at Barnes & Noble [bn.com]. Amazon happens to have paid for a search toolbar in the official Firefox package - if the Mozilla Foundation wants to accept their money for that (and they do), they only have the choi

        • by adolf (21054)
          I look at it another way, by which I assume that one pays for it one way or the other.

          1. One does not offer the greatest benefit to Mozilla by purchasing through the Firefox affiliate link; instead, their revenue would probably be a lot higher if you just donated to them directly. There would be fewer accountants to pay, and fewer books for them to keep. By donating directly, one can eliminate entire fucking corporations from the money trail (*cough* Amazon), and displace any of the needless workers they
          • One does not throw away money by not using the Firefox affiliate links. If nobody used affiliate links, Amazon would be able to afford to broadly lower their prices, through decreased payouts and staff reassignment/downsizing. Once prices are lower, one has more money by which to directly donate to Mozilla.

            I strongly doubt that you'd see a noticeable price drop if Amazon ended their affiliate program. If we ignore affiliate sales for a moment, we can see that Amazon is competing with other online stores re

        • by Plugh (27537)
          Quoth Chanon Selddon:
          Whenever you buy an item at Amazon.com without using an affiliate code, you're throwing money away

          Unless, of course, you own AMZN shares ...

  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday May 21, 2007 @01:13PM (#19210271) Homepage Journal

    should Firefox's 1,000 to 2,000 developers and 80,000 evangelists have full knowledge of how revenue is spent


    Yes.

    Open source was a method that is unheard of for creating and publishing things some time ago, and its proving that it is an unprecedented success, as it was pitted against hulky big proprietary method-using corporation's stuff and coming out stronger every day.

    Some non-it sectors and foundations are going to employ open source methods for doing things. Manufacturing, hardware was recently discussed. If it goes like this, we can find many stuff being further developed by open source methods, imitating its success in i.t. So, it is changing our world.

    Now hear this - privacy, finance and transparency are the present issues to integrate with open source, but when they are once integrated with it, and a transparency by ensuring privacy and a usable financial method is achieved, then there will be no reason not to implement these methods in areas from manufacturing to government.

    in short, i am telling that the methods invented in open source foundations can be the key to revolutionizing the governmental systems in the world, getting much more closer to direct democracy and full transparency concepts.
  • It's funny to see all these "Mozilla is Evil!" posts. So what if Mozilla made corporate subsidy? It's been a year know that Moz Co has been in operation, so where is the fallout? Did Mozilla the organization do anything shaddy? The whole Iceweasel thing is a lot of bullshit, if Mozilla wants to engage in marketing they have to protect their trademark, there are no exceptions. Mozilla's policy on trademarks is very sane, they don't act in an aggressive manner, they get in contact with the right people and so
  • There is one very good use for the money, advertising.

    After a certain point, the only way to grow a brand is through advertising.

    The Firefox adoption rate amount techies (and friends and families of techies) has probably peaked. The only way non-techies will learn the benefits of Firefox is through mass market advertising.

    Some will probably be agast at the thought of open source revenue being funneled to mass market, for-profit companies. But I believe these ends justify these means.

    Ad
  • Is someone there making 5 million a year? Which devs get paid and how much? $50 million is a lot of money to spread around when you have only ~40 employees( per mozilla.org site announcing reorg from 2005). Are you more or less inclined to work hard on a project that is making that much money from your contributions?

    These same questions have been around for quite a while but it's still fun to revisit them. While I don't think that the money will stop people from contributing their time, I do think they have
    • by asa (33102)
      We're actually about 100 employees today. Also, we pay taxes on that revenue and we have non-trivial operating costs -- employees, community support and empowerment, facilities, and definitely in the infrastructure that we've built out to support the 500,000 Firefox downloads that we serve every day, the millions of daily sessions at our various web properties, the 100 million or so application security updates we ship every 6-8 weeks, etc.

      No one at Mozilla is getting rich. I'd wager that most people at Moz
      • I was amused to see you flagging "employees" as a non trivial operating cost. Correct, but not exactly something other companies are immune to.

        Remember that link you threw out for Mozilla's financials? There's an interesting line there in which the company details its "Total Functional Expenses", including many of those things you mention: remuneration, telephone, travel, conferences, consulting fees, etc. Sum total in 2005: $2.96M.

        Assuming Mozilla Corp has doubled in size between 2005 and 2006 financial

        • by asa (33102)
          Achromatic1978, Mozilla hasn't released 2006 financials yet. When it does, you can evaluate them. Making guesses based on 2005 numbers will most likely be pretty far off (especially given the differning breakdown between taxible and non-taxable revenues.) Also, you're pretty far off on even your 2005 math so you might want to re-read the documents.

          All that being said, nowhere did I claim that Mozilla was "breaking even". If we were, how could we have had $29M on hand at the end of 2005.

          Finally, my post was
          • Thanks for your reply. I'll be the first to admit IANAA. The 2005 math is based on the IRS's bottom line: Total Functional Expenses. Duly noted re 2006, though.

            And I totally agree re your replying to bogie.

    • by BZ (40346)
      > $50 million is a lot of money to spread around

      You seem to be assuming that all the money is being spent. The Mozilla financials (which are public) show that this is not the case. A significant portion is being saved.

      Which is a good thing -- it means that if at some point in the future Google demands something that is not consistent with the Mozilla Foundation mission Mozilla can walk away from the arrangement and continue to operate off the savings while looking for another revenue stream.

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