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Mozilla Businesses Firefox

Mozilla Revenue Jump Fuels Its Firefox Overhaul Plan (cnet.com) 127

Well, now we know what paid for all those programmers cranking out the overhauled Firefox Quantum browser: a major infusion of new money. From a report: Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the open-source web browser, saw its 2016 revenue increase 24 percent to an all-time high of $520 million, it said Friday. Expenses grew too, but not as much, from $361 million to $337 million, so the organization's war chest is significantly bigger now. Mozilla, which now has about 1,200 employees, releases prior-year financial results in conjunction with tax filings. Most of Mozilla's money comes from partnerships with search engines like Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Baidu and Yandex. When you search through Firefox's address bar, those search engines show search ads alongside results and share a portion of the revenue to Mozilla. Mozilla in 2014 signed a major five-year deal with Yahoo to be the default search engine in the US, but canceled it only three years in and moved back to Google instead in November. Mozilla's mission -- to keep the internet open and a place where you aren't in the thrall of tech giants -- may seem abstract. But Mozilla succeeded in breaking the lock Microsoft's Internet Explorer had on the web a decade ago, and now it's fighting the same battle again against Google's Chrome.
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Mozilla Revenue Jump Fuels Its Firefox Overhaul Plan

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  • Expenses grew...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2017 @01:38PM (#55658997)
    I didn't know that $361 million was less than $337 million...
    • The error is in the article text itself. I presume the numbers should be flipped.

  • 1,200 employees!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by BLToday ( 1777712 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @01:39PM (#55659007)

    Mozilla has 1,200 employees!!! What projects are all these people working on? Because I can't imagine even 600 of them working on Firefox.

    • by asa ( 33102 ) <asa@mozilla.com> on Friday December 01, 2017 @01:42PM (#55659041) Homepage

      About 600 of them work directly on Firefox.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Well, 600 incompetents have less productivity than one really good one. They apparently decided to hire cheapest possible...

      • Of those 600, 599 are on the standing committee that decides, by voice vote and occasionally by coin toss, what UI features are going to change in this week's version of Firefox. The other guy is Geoff. Geoff does all the coding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's hard to fathom why Mozilla needs either 1200 employees or $520 million in income.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's hard to imagine that many employees on one program. Now I've never maintained a web browser, but I've maintained semi complex programs by just myself. Do you really need 600 people for a web browser?

        Does anyone have a functional breakdown for how that works? Even if you had ten people per module, that would imply like 60 modules? Some might be testing, though that should be at least partly automated, and presumably everyone could run new builds for a week or two before they are let out.

        Meh, it soun

      • That's my reaction, also.

        The article is poorly edited: "Expenses grew too, but not as much, from $361 million to $337 million...". The numbers should be reversed. When the editing is that sloppy, can we depend on other information being accurate?

        Also, the article does not tell the full story. For example: "Mozilla in 2014 signed a major five-year deal with Yahoo to be the default search engine in the US, but canceled it only three years in and moved back to Google instead in November."

        During that 3
        • Moderated down by people who, I'm guessing, don't much disagree, but who want to hide what people and the media are saying.
        • by roca ( 43122 )

          So you feel that your theory that Microsoft was secretly running Mozilla is not in the least undermined by Mozilla exiting the Yahoo deal and no longer receiving money (indirectly) from Microsoft?

          • We don't know why Mozilla Foundation has changed from accepting money from Microsoft to accepting money from Google. We are, apparently, not allowed to know. One possibility is that Google is willing to pay more. Another possibility is that there was a breakdown in the relationship between the very poorly managed Yahoo [glassdoor.com] and Microsoft. (Although poorly managed, one reason Yahoo has money is that Yahoo is part owner of Alibaba. See, for example, Why worthless CEOs laugh all the way to the bank [nypost.com]. May 20, 2017)
    • Even if they all worked on Firefox it would be understandable imo. If you've ever tried to write a browser from scratch (i.e. not just using the V8 engine and webkit) you'd know how utterly grueling it is to even hit 10% of what is in the web standards for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

      That said, hopefully they can use a sub-percentage fraction of the massive increase in revenue they've seen (which is kind of bullshit as a nonprofit, but nevermind that) to finally build Widevine for FreeBSD. The only thing ke

    • 20 programmers, 1180 managers. You know how it works.
    • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Friday December 01, 2017 @04:00PM (#55660205) Homepage
      I work on a team that manages automation infrastructure, we're about 7-8 people building tools and services for automation; with other teams building test suites and release pipelines on top of the automation infrastructure. A mono-repo like mozilla-central runs some ~2k tasks per push; this involves building across platforms and configurations, a long list of test suites, performance tests, etc..

      All in the name of making sure Firefox doesn't break the web, etc. I'm sure we could try to be more efficient about running tests, but this is also risky, because we have so many developers and contributors.
    • just how complex a browser is. Having written an addon I've got a taste for the craziness involved. It's frankly absurd just what it takes. To be fair, browsers are practically operating systems these days. And then you add all the community people. I couldn't have written my plugin without all the help they gave me.
    • by roca ( 43122 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @04:59PM (#55660721) Homepage

      You have no idea how complicated a browser is.

      I don't know about currently, but I've been told that at times Microsoft and Google each had over a thousand developers working on their browsers.

      Apart from the difficulty of implementing the client software and its various axes --- security, compatibility, performance, platform porting, and so on --- these days a significant server-side component is also needed. Downloads, updates, addons, crash collection, telemetry, push notifications, and so on. And for developers, CI, massive test farm, telemetry/crashes analysis and viewing, etc.

      Then you've got people writing tools and frameworks for the above teams. E.g. the rr project was born at Mozilla to improve life for Mozilla's C++ developers.

      Then you've got people doing standards work (at Mozilla, usually part of the developers' jobs), Web site evangelism and other external relationships.

      Then you've got Mozilla Research building stuff like Rust and Servo exploring technology that may eventually become part of Firefox.

      Then of course you have the overhead --- HR, PR, lawyers, accountants, logistics, office managers, event organizers, personnel managers, executives.

      I worked at Mozilla for a long time. Over the last five years headcount was at about the same level, even during the FirefoxOS years. We were *always* butting up against headcount limits, more work than we had people to do it. It's not like the stories you hear about Google where people are wandering around underemployed.

    • by higuita ( 129722 )

      Browsers are more complex than you imagine...
      also, mozilla have several research projects running in parallel, some take several years to even get to a working state to be able to test anything... just look at rust! took years to develop and stabilize, so it could be used to build servo, to develop code and solutions that would be imported in forefox (or better, replace old code). a small part of all that is this quantum release

    • Remember when they redesigned their logo to emphasize their "brand experience?"
    • Thrashing the code and changing paradigms, what else?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How does that work, exactly?

  • But Mozilla succeeded in breaking the lock Microsoft's Internet Explorer had on the web a decade ago, and now it's fighting the same battle again against Google's Chrome.

    This is laughable. Mozilla didn't break IE's hegemony by ditching XUL to adopt ActiveX.

    • This is laughable. Mozilla didn't break IE's hegemony by ditching XUL to adopt ActiveX.

      What Mozilla did was to create the world's first Open Source Web browser that correctly implemented and adhered to the Web standards more closely than anything else available. This encouraged Web developers to follow standards more closely than they ever had before, thereby eliminating their dependencies on Internet Explorer's Windows-only misfeatures.

      Without Mozilla/Phoenix/Firefox, the World Wide Web would be a prison with Microsoft as the warden, and Chrome would likely have never gotten off the ground.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        His point was that Mozilla upended IE's dominance through being *different* and better. In this case, there's a lot of areas where Mozilla is trying to compete with Chrome by being the same as it's competitor, which seems limited in upside.

        Under the covers and in more nuanced ways, Firefox is very distinct, but there's certainly a lot of cosmetic things that give the impression of being chrome-like at every turn.

        • Mozilla beat IE because Microsoft didn't bother to try. MSIE 6 was a dead project for years, making it easy to develop something better. Out-competing Chrome is a much bigger challenge because Google is releasing updates every week, making it a moving target.

      • ActiveX was always a Bad Idea. Its success was because of this. During its rise to popularity, IE was getting a lot of attacks based on ActiveX plugins. IT Guys put Firefox install on their brand new now affordable thumb drives. And when a friend or family member got computer trouble they installed Firefox and told them to use it.
        Because of the frequency of the attacks on IE, News organizations were pushing installing Firefox to help protect the general public. IE 6 during early XP time was a security nig

        • by tsa ( 15680 )

          I was sharing an appartment with a Microsoft fanatic in the 1990s when MS were at their worst. I always used Netscape and later Firefox or whatever it was called back then, and he always dismissed them as bad and inferiour, until the day that some AcitveX website had rendered his whole computer unusable and he had to reinstall the whole thing. From then on he ran FF but he never went off Outlook, which back then was probably even more insecure than IE.

      • While true, that was also before they rewrote it a bunch of times.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      It is true that superficially, Firefox does tend to make a lot of changes that make it cosmetically resemble chrome, and maybe even sacrifice some of it's own flexibility in pursuit of tighter security and performance (with a vague set of promises about being able to deliver those experiences again over time, but we will see).

      However, it remains a distinct implementation, which is valuable. More concretely, they are not baking in various 'hard-baked-to-google' decisions into the browser. It may not be a p

  • Because of all the TV ads for FireFox?

  • I have open home page on start-up, yet it apologizes it couldn't open the last open pages when loaded. Windows and Linux Mint every time.

    This hasn't changed through the updates.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2017 @02:01PM (#55659209)

    They can afford to make an XUL version of Firefox for people who want to use real extensions officially. and not having to use forks like Waterfox and Pale Moon.

    • by ChoGGi ( 522069 )

      For now you can use the developer edition and enable legacy extensions (for now).

    • by Rexdude ( 747457 )

      Waterfox is a 64-bit port, not a fork. Palemoon is a fork, with all the telemetry and dumbed down interface removed, so it looks like how Firefox 4 used to look before they turned into a Chrome wannabe - but is a modern fully supported browser under the hood.

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @02:09PM (#55659257)
    I have been using Quantum since beta and have been endlessly happy with it. I no longer have Chrome installed at all. So, with all this new money, moment, and initialize, I was thinking what about a Thunderbird overhaul. Then I realized, for my purposes it is perfect which is why have been using it for years and years, occasional experimenting with something else.

    But people have different usage requirements. If the readers here could change anything about Thunderbird, what would it be?
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Thunderbird? Several things, all very annoying: Finally fix screen updates with large remote calendars. Make it compatible with iPhone-created invites. Stop wiping out entries I am in the process of making.

    • Maybe they could make Thunderbird as fast as Firefox...
    • Plenty of things... They'll have to figure out how to move forward without breaking add-ons with the latest firefox changes.

      integrate some of the bigger add-ons.

      Their message filter rule system needs drastic changes because it's a total mess. Configuration for a large organization is also nowhere near good enough. They should work on corporate setups for easy config and support since they are competing with webmail. The advantage of it over the cloud services is the mail filtering options and configurati

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        And still, despite all its flaws I think TB is one of the best email clients out there.

        • Please realize that concepts and things almost always precede terminology used to describe them. Even detailed formal definitions placed upon old concepts CAN become vague representations returning back to the less formal origins.

          When people put the needs of the many above the needs of the few, the whole concept is often labeled as socialist especially when it even remotely involves economics or government. Before Christ heavily promoted socialism the concept still existed... some would say it is Christian

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @02:23PM (#55659365)

    "Most of Mozilla's money comes from partnerships with search engines like Google...".

    So they get a lot of money from Google - probably the lion's share. And Google gets most of their money from advertising.

    "(A)nd now it's fighting the same battle again against Google's Chrome".

    So how long is Google, (an advertising company whose browser is a core part of its advertising strategy), going to keep funding a company whose stated aim is to "keep the internet open and a place where you aren't in the thrall of tech giants"?

    I've never really understood Google's support of Mozilla. Might it be that Google expects a company with both a growing war chest and a shrinking user base to implode more rapidly when funding is suddenly withdrawn? If not that or something like it, then the reasons for Google's support are a mystery to me. Can anyone here explain it?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google lawyer: "what do you mean anti-trust suit? Look, we're sponsoring a concurrent, we're the good guy here."

    • Just really wanting everyone to use Google for search isn't plausible?
      • google don't give a shit about what you use, as long as it presents their ads and allows them to mine your data for onselling.
        • by roca ( 43122 )

          That's totally wrong. It's incredibly important to Google that they maximise their search market share. Not only do they monetize search directly but controlling search feeds all kinds of other Google strategies like directing people to Maps etc.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Didn't you just explain it? Google is an ad/data mining company, getting Firefox's search traffic is far more important than what browser they use. Firefox is also as much an enemy of Apple and Microsoft, the two other mega-corporations it's mostly competing with. Mozilla may talk big but they can't kill the signal Google is paying for, so what harm can they really do? According to StatCounter's total figures with mobile Mozilla got about 6% market share, at $520 million that'd price the whole market at $8.

    • same reason MS bailed out Apple, and if push came to shove, intel would bail out AMD. Competition on life support is still competition in the eyes of the law

    • Google's interest is in ensuring that Firefox out-competes Edge and Safari for the #2 browser spot. A popular browser controlled by MS or Apple represents a serious existential threat to Google... an open browser does not.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      Look at what Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on iOS. I think it was released as part of a court case, the figure was in the range of 1B/year.

      Google wants to be the default search engine, this is their core business, Chrome was just a way to protect that core business..
      I can't say I fully understand any economics at this scale, but my guess is Mozilla is some of the cheapest traffic Google can buy, and Google is all about protecting their core service: search.
    • So how long is Google, (an advertising company whose browser is a core part of its advertising strategy), going to keep funding a company whose stated aim is to "keep the internet open and a place where you aren't in the thrall of tech giants"?

      Until they actually are a threat? I mean capturing the Firefox search market while at the same time being at no risk due to it's crappy market share sounds like a standard cost of business.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @02:28PM (#55659419)

    ...But Mozilla succeeded in breaking the lock Microsoft's Internet Explorer had on the web a decade ago, and now it's fighting the same battle again against Google's Chrome....

    The way not to take on Chrome is to become a total clone of it and, at the same time, destroy all the functionality that extensions had provided.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      As I understand it old extensions had synchronous hooks in to much of Firefox, causing security problems and making it impossible to improve performance.
      Take a look at the browser extensions API, sure they aren't perfect, but on MDN it's clear that firefox has more extension APIs than Chrome.
      • by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @04:27PM (#55660449)

        The old extension model gave you access to everything. I hesitate to call them "hooks", because when people here that they usually think of a well-enumerated API option or port. It wasn't that. Everything was made of modules with a defined module API. Any extension could leverage any model by talking to it. That made you able to do literally anything with their model.

        Do you want to cut out the (then) Gecko rendering engine and instead use IE's (then) Trident rending engine? An extension did that. Do you want to filter everything that goes to the (then) SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine before the code is run? An extension let you do that. Do you want to leverage the rendering engine to view a webpage in a way that it was never intended (say, as hierarchical text)? An extension did that. Do you want to inject your own code into every page you're shown? An extension did that. Do you want to add support for a new or obsoleted protocol (like gopher), or new image formats? You could do that. Do you want to implement completely new UI features, such as dragging-to-rearrange tabs? That was an extension, later added to the main program.

        The trouble is that most extensions did really banal shit like changing the UI by modifying the chrome. And when Firefox revs and redefines chrome element (and the mediocre extensions do not update at all), all of a sudden the browser gets laggy and leaky and doesn't work like customers expect, and Mozilla looks incompetent. They had the same problems with their CSS-based themes, which is why they started moving back to customizable by mostly-meaningless skins (in their Jetpack initiative).

        Now by moving to Google Chrome's API model, they've finish cutting out most of the wild, wooly, user-generated code that made it less stable... but also the only thing that makes Firefox unique or useful in a modern browser. It did it's job and ended IE dominance. With the passage of time it has forgotten the goal of making a browser that was lightweight. Modern web features make it impossible for it to be nearly as cross-platform as it was. They rarely ever supported user choices over API standards (they always had to be badgered into things like 'never deny the user access to the menu'), so it's hard for me to believe them when they claim any kind of moral superiority. They only care about user choice so long as it doesn't make work for them. So other than the fact we have a _different flavor_ of chrome now, what's there to be thrilled about?

        • The old extension model gave you access to everything....

          The Mozilla hyped up that old extension model, using it to show how feature-rich Firefox was. Then Mozilla just takes it away.

          ...The trouble is that most extensions...

          The trouble is that Firefox has lost so much functionality that it is useless for me. So I wish Mozilla well in their quest to be a Chrome clone, they're going to need it if this is how they treat long-time users.

        • ...The trouble is that most extensions did really banal shit like changing the UI by modifying the chrome.../quote The real problem is that Mozilla did really banal shit by pulling the rug out from under the existing extensions. One extension developer told me that the facilities they need are no longer present. Why did Mozilla abandon them after luring them in to write an extension?

  • That is truly astounding. Are they, I don't know, just shoveling the money mostly out the windows?
    - FF still sucks, despite the speed being better now
    - Thunderbird, they are not even working on anymore AFAIK
    - Are they doing anything else that would justify their existence?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We live in a time where criticism is hate speech.

  • by mrwireless ( 1056688 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @02:53PM (#55659617)
    After installing an outgoing firewall on my laptop I was amazed to see that Firefox was continuously sending updates about the wifi networks I was connected to to a maps.google.com/something address.

    I was quite dissapointed, and switched to Waterfox for a while.

    Chrome is, of course, much worse. But still. I would love to see a fast browser that really takes privacy seriously. You'd think that limiting tracking might speed up the browser as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Those are your location data requests (which prompted you and you accepted). All browsers do that. See this Stack Overflow question [stackoverflow.com] for details.
    • I've been testing Epic. So far, I really like it. It's based on Chromium, and gives a very high priority to privacy.

      https://www.epicbrowser.com/

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday December 01, 2017 @05:53PM (#55661115)

      After installing an outgoing firewall on my laptop I was amazed to see that Firefox was continuously sending updates about the wifi networks I was connected to to a maps.google.com/something address.

      I was quite dissapointed, and switched to Waterfox for a while.

      Why were you disappointed? How else do you think Geolocation features in a modern browser on the modern internet is supposed to work? If you want to drop the evil conspiracy then here's some information:

      What, why and how: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/... [mozilla.org]
      Google's specific policy of how it handles Mozilla's requests: https://www.google.com/privacy... [google.com]

      Of course this API request is for Mozilla to get the current location from Google, so it sends your connected WiFi spot and Google replies with where you are. Nothing too exciting since all it's doing is getting the information from Google. It doesn't hand anything out without your permission (and neither does Chrome). That can all be managed under Settings > Permissions > Location.

      Finally if you're truly paranoid, head to about:config and set geo.enabled = false.

      The worst thing we ever did was give data to those people who are unwilling to take the time to understand it. With the curiosity of what is being sent where you should also add the curiosity of why, how and for what reason. Then you may actually simply turn the relevant setting off instead of panic switching to a whole different product for the wrong reasons.

      • It doesn't hand anything out without your permission (and neither does Chrome). That can all be managed under Settings > Permissions > Location.

        Yes it does. Firefox with default settings executes browser.search.geoip without asking.

        The worst thing we ever did was give data to those people who are unwilling to take the time to understand it. With the curiosity of what is being sent where you should also add the curiosity of why, how and for what reason. Then you may actually simply turn the relevant setting off instead of panic switching to a whole different product for the wrong reasons

        Firefox should offer the user a simple blunt lever to exhaustively control all of the calling home shit.

        • Yes it does. Firefox with default settings executes browser.search.geoip without asking.

          And? Next you're going to complain that it renders to your graphic card without permission? Firefox is doing an API lookup here, nothing more. If you're worried about your WiFi being tied to your location, guess what, that information either is or isn't already out there. That's kind of how it works. Either you're in the phonebook Firefox is reading or you're not.

          I for one would never use a browser that askes me if I'm sure it should do every tiny internal function that it is capable of. No one would.

          Firefox should offer the user a simple blunt lever to exhaustively control all of the calling home shit.

          It doe

          • Firefox is doing an API lookup here, nothing more.

            Firefox could make an "API lookup" transmiting the contents of my bitcoin wallet to criminal enterprise and this "API lookup here, nothing more" comment would be no more or less valid. It's just looking up how much money I have so it can provide a customized shopping experience or some other creative doublespeak.

            If you're worried about your WiFi being tied to your location, guess what, that information either is or isn't

            My feelings about all of these crowd sourced location databases is not relevant in and of itself.

            I fully accept WiFi signal/SSID/MAC data is NOT sent by DEFAULT unless user accepts location prompt.

            • These connections to telemetry.mozilla.org

              Oh fuck. Why didn't you just say you ticked the wrong box during the setup. Either that or you were running the pre-channel setup. Firefox does NOT DO THIS BY DEFAULT.

              I spectacularly don't care.

              Then take yourself out of the discussion and disappear.

              • Oh fuck. Why didn't you just say you ticked the wrong box during the setup. Either that or you were running the pre-channel setup. Firefox does NOT DO THIS BY DEFAULT.

                Oh fuck. You obviously have no idea what your talking about. It does this by default and CONTINUES to do so even after ALL privacy related settings are DISABLED.

                There are no privacy installation options. It just starts installing itself automatically when the installer is run. Even when ALL privacy related options are disabled available to mortals the behavior continues.

                Specifically disabling "Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla", "Allow Firefox to install and run studies" an

    • After installing an outgoing firewall on my laptop I was amazed to see that Firefox was continuously sending updates about the wifi networks I was connected to to a maps.google.com/something address.

      I was quite dissapointed, and switched to Waterfox for a while.

      Especially after all of the bullshit on their websites over the past year about how much they care about user privacy.

      Volume of "excuses" for calling home baked into Firefox is lunacy as are some of the features enabled by default. One in particular I found calling home after installing Firefox normally on a new system is "experiments.enabled". This loads and executes random binary payloads "experiments" into browsers without the user knowing.

      Fortunately with a lot of work in about:config you can disable

  • "Mozilla succeeded in breaking the lock Microsoft's Internet Explorer had on the web a decade ago, and now it's fighting the same battle again against Google's Chrome."

    Mozilla succeeded against Internet Explorer by offering a completely different browsing experience...tabs and a lot of really interesting ways to customize the browser.

    So what is Firefox now? It's dull, soulless Chrome with some dull, soulless tweaks. If I want to go down that road, I'll opt for better security/privacy and start spending

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