Mozilla has laid off 70 people, TechCrunch reports. It is a significant movement for an organization that employs around 1,000 people worldwide.
“You can remember that we were hoping to earn new subscription products in 2019 and 2020, as well as higher revenue from external sources to the search,” Mozilla interim CEO Mitchell Baker wrote in a memo to the staff obtained by TechCrunch. “This did not happen.”
Baker said Mozilla had decided not to file the $ 43 million innovation fund from Mozilla, which focuses on creating new Mozilla products. She said Mozilla would provide “generous exit packages and relocation support” to those who were fired.
Every year, companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars to be the default search engine in Mozilla’s flagship browser, Firefox. Google has been Mozilla’s main customer over the years, but on several occasions it has also had agreements with Yahoo!, Yandex, Baidu and other search providers. In recent years, these agreements have represented more than 90 percent of Mozilla’s revenues.
Mozilla generated $ 429 million in royalty revenue (mainly from these search offers) in 2018, the most recent data available.
The market share of Mozilla’s flagship browser, Firefox, has steadily declined for at least a decade. And Mozilla’s leadership is understandably nervous that having a large part of its budget depends on a single source of income. So, the organization has been trying to develop new lines of business.
Mozilla is developing a virtual private network service. It will include an option to provide privacy protections throughout the device for $ 4.99 per month. However, the service is not yet available to the public: prospective customers are invited to “join the waiting list”.
Mozilla briefly offered a business support option for $ 10 per user, but then deleted it days later. A spokesman said Mozilla “was still exploring” a business offer, but was not yet ready to start offering it.
Mozilla has developed a variety of products, including file transfer software and a password manager. But none has gained significant traction or generated a lot of revenue for Mozilla.
Mozilla has struggled to adapt as the Internet has increasingly moved to mobile devices and has been increasingly dominated by a handful of large companies. In the era of the desktop, millions of people did their best to download and run Firefox. In the mobile era, by contrast, most customers adhere to the default values provided by Apple or Google, respectively. The rules of the Apple app store effectively make it impossible for Mozilla to offer a full Firefox browser on iOS. Firefox on iOS is based on Apple’s WebKit rendering engine, making it difficult for Mozilla to be distinguished on the platform.
In the early 2010s, Mozilla tried to counter this strategic threat by developing its own mobile operating system called Firefox OS that was created entirely in web technologies. But the platform did not get significant traction from smartphone manufacturers, and Mozilla finally abandoned it in 2017.