Mozilla makes money shock

The open source organisation Mozilla Foundation has always been seen as a non-profit organisation getting by on the generosity of a few corporate sponsors and the unpaid work of hundreds of volunteers that work on its projects. Now, it seems Mozilla is entering the world of corporate profitability, and fairly lucrative it is too.

That’s according to Jason Calacanis the founder of Weblogs Inc. He says he heard at a recent BarCampLA meeting that the ‘for-profit’ arm, the Mozilla Corporation, makes around $72 million a year. This figure has since been challenged by Mozilla board member Christopher Blizzard who has responded that the figure is ‘not correct, though not off by an order of magnitude’.

Although Calacanis makes no claim for the accuracy of the figure he says that Mozilla gets its money through a deal with Google ads. Every time a Firefox user uses the Google search box and then clicks on a sponsored ad the Mozilla Corporation receives a payment equating to 80 per cent of the revenue. As, Calcanis points out, with major sponsors of Google AdWords being companies like Amazon, the Mozilla Corporation cannot fail to be making a considerable amount in revenues.

He comments, ‘What an amazing business: make a kick-ass browser for $10-15M a year in expense and make $72M (and growing) in revenue. It’s such a good business that the folks at Flock.com are trying to do a similar thing by building a wrapper with value-added services (like bookmarking tools) on top of Firefox’.

While some commentators have raised questions about why Mozilla calls for donations when it is making considerable revenues from the Google connection, most approve that an Open Source project can find ways to become self financing.

The Mozilla Corporation was set up last year to manage and promote its various free software initiatives including both Firefox and the open source email client Thunderbird. The Mozilla Foundation currently has a staff of around 120 people working on projects or administration.

Another story in the news today, on the Google and Firefox relationship is: Firefox gets Google anti-phishing tool

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