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Mozilla Raking in Millions? 386

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-a-twentyonaire dept.
truthsearch writes "Internetnews.com wonders about the money Firefox is making in revenue thanks to Google. From the article: 'Mozilla gets paid a publicly undisclosed amount for each Google search query made from Firefox by a user.' This revenue is used to pay the recently formed Mozilla Corporation's 40 full-time equivalent employees and fund project and infrastructure development."
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Mozilla Raking in Millions?

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  • How do we know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kcbanner (929309) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:41AM (#14897129) Homepage Journal
    ...if the dollar figure is in the hundred thousands, millions, or billions? Just a thought...people seem to be overrating how much they are actually making (costs aside).
  • If they are then (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metricmusic (766303) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:43AM (#14897134) Homepage Journal
    good on them.

    I salute them!

  • by jkeegan (35099) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:43AM (#14897135) Homepage Journal
    Again, maybe they could spend some of that money refactoring their modular implementation to allow disable-output-escaping in XSLT when the output method isn't xhtml... (even if it causes a second pass when disable-output-escaping is set to true)..

    http://digg.com/technology/Mozilla_refuses_to_full y_implement_XSLT_in_Firefox [digg.com]
  • Worth It (Score:2, Insightful)

    by komodo9 (577710) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:47AM (#14897140) Homepage
    Hey, if they make a great browser like Firefox, they deserve it. I just tried the new IE7, and it's horrible imo. Too overdone. I like firefox's simplicity and power.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Indio_do_Xingu (675644) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:47AM (#14897141) Homepage
    I really don't understand the question here. Is he implying that Mozilla pockets the money? Or do they want to audit the profits? Just because an Open Source company is making money pundits start to ponder what will the money be used for?

    They get the money from the search bar from gogle. Users benefit, google benefits, Mozilla benefits. Profits go to development of their current and future products. Want to know more? Why not contact them directly?

  • by NekoXP (67564) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:49AM (#14897147) Homepage
    Sounds like they are playing the guilt-trip card.

    Of course it's publically undisclosed. Why do they need to disclose it? They have no obligation to, really, as a private entity (rather than being on the stock market or so).

    If they are raking in the money, great! Software developers need to get paid! :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:51AM (#14897151)
    They can also spend it on fixing memory leaks. Spinning the issue is not fixing the issue. I'm about to switch to Opera if FF doesnt get their act together.
  • by sundru (709023) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:05AM (#14897177)
    Some moron in an online editorial is curious what mozilla is doing with its money , why the heck should mozilla disclose how its using its money ? free software doesnt mean you have to account for every penny you earn , they built a heck of a browser let them reap the benefits of what they sowed. --- Must be a dull day for the editors @ /. Go home and have a beer fellas tis the weekend --
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:08AM (#14897188) Journal
    .... other open source software.
  • by judabuddhist (909092) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:10AM (#14897194)
    Don't forget, it's in Google's best interest that the internet in general becomes less Microsoft dependent, and that the alternatives be Google friendly. Any excuse to support Firefox is a good one for them, and doing it as a business venture adds legitimacy and opens the door to future collaboration. And personally, I probably make more google searches because of the ease of doing so with firefox.
  • by matthewsmalley (242855) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:20AM (#14897213)
    Why should Mozilla disclose how its using its money? Because it's a California non-profit corporation. Here in the UK charities/ngo's/etc have to disclose their financials in order to continue receiving all the perks (tax exemption for donatees etc). Otherwise you end up with one big money laudering machine (in the government's eyes).

    Anyway I as a potential donater want to know what I'm donating to? (I don't think this is the case but...) If Mozilla's turned into a profit-hungry corporation, but is still trying to imply it needs my £10 a month to feed its hungry developers, then that's deception on a large scale, and I'm not interested.

    There's a conscious difference in most people's minds between donating to a company that's explicity not out to make a profit and buying product from one that is.
  • Re:How much ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houseofzeus (836938) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:34AM (#14897242) Homepage
    It's a conservative estimate until you use $0.02 per click. I doubt that it is anywhere near that high. Either way there is currently no way of knowing how high/low the price is so any figures are wild speculation at best.
  • Who owns who (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ben Jao Ming (812324) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:35AM (#14897245) Homepage
    The real risk is that Google might start wanting some more out of Mozilla. If they fund the whole thing one might consider that they have too much to say. Of course you'd have to be very creative to figure out an example...

    Also, Google might actually be dependant on being represented in Firefox. What if Mozilla screws them and get a deal with Yahoo? Ooops... there goes say 100 mio. daily searches..
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:46AM (#14897269)

    Choice? The FireFox search bar is configurable, so your post is either ignorant or a troll. It's not like the Skype case AT ALL: The Skype case was extra effort to create artificial limitations ... tell me, in what way have they gone to extra effort to create artificial limitations?

    It seems obvious to me that users benefit when the Mozilla Foundation is able to fund development of alternate browsers. If they had no money, we wouldn't have FireFox ... "having FireFox" seems like a benefit to me.

  • by Device666 (901563) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:48AM (#14897271)
    "That Google pays content and search partners, as well as AdSense participants, is not new. What is interesting, however, is the amount that Mozilla earns from its users' Google queries.

    One blogger has speculated that the figure is as high as $72 million in fact.

    Mozilla Corporation board member Chris Blizzard said that the $72 million figure is not correct, "though not off by an order of magnitude."

    Why not call it by its name? What's wrong with giving actual numbers? If someone gives these guys money why not advertise it?

    Anyway, of course this kind of money helps firefox to progress. But what I don't like is the idea that this project may act too much dependend and not transparant. I like Google's money to be in open source project, but I hate the idea this project will be seduced by corporate interests instead of user interest that will maybe occur in th future. As a user and open source developer I highly value transparency.
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:59AM (#14897295)

    Oh for God's sake what do you expect, that the Mozilla developers should be "pure" and "untainted" by commercial interests that might "bias" them towards pushing their solutions over others for reasons other than technical? Get over yourself, there just aren't enough programmers willing to live like paupers giving up their lives in some mother theresa style gesture doing volunteer development work while starving and living in the gutter ... you can't *make* software for free, programmers not only need money, they tend to demand a lot of it ... further it's a free market, the Mozilla Foundation have found a business model that allows them to make money off a free browser and there is nothing wrong with that ... if it was so terrible, then the free market would reject it and come up with alternate solutions. If their browser was shit nobody would use it no matter how much they astroturfed, and if they were raking in unjustifiable amounts of money and spending it on yachts then the free market would eventually find another cheaper way to make browsers. Nobody is forced to use FireFox and people are broadly capable of knowing whether the browser they are using sucks or not. Having more "motivation to market" (and money to do so) is a good thing, you speak as though marketing itself is some form of evil.

    Funny how it's always "other people" we expect to live to insanely idealised standards of devotion to ideologies of untainted technical purity, while for ourselves it's always OK to maximise the income we can earn from our own endeavours.

  • Re:Phase 2? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:10AM (#14897322)
    They don't have much choice...Microsoft had essentially destryed "direct" market by driving browsers price to zero. And they need _some_ ways to fund their development.

    Yup and it isn't as if there is anything morally wrong about OOS projects making money as long as it doesn't violate GPL and the profits go toward funding the project? Personally I don't mind, there are plenty of examples of non-profit organizations that have revenue streams so why get upset over the Mozilla project joining that group as long as the money doesnt' corrupt them?
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:12AM (#14897327)

    Google was the most popular search engine long before FireFox ever had that search box. Thus even if Google weren't funding Mozilla at all, it would still be the most obvious and logical "default choice", provided one does not limit people from choosing others or making it difficult to do so (which they haven't). I mean, it (a) just wouldn't have made sense anyway to deliberately choose a less popular search engine and (b) choosing some other search engine would still be unfairly favouring one over another. Asking the user every time they run FF for the first time would be silly. No, the only clear choice is to please the most users by choosing the most popular search engine.

    I still don't agree that it's anything like the Skype situation. In the Skype situation, they had something they'd developed that worked on all platforms, and then they sat down and intentionally spent additional time and effort to deliberately break it on some platforms. In the case of the search box in FF, they started with nothing, i.e. no search box at all, and sat down and added a new feature that contains no limitations. It's like someone gives you a free ice-cream and you complain because it's not your favourite flavour. What Skype did takes something away from users, what FF have done has only added.

  • by Aqua04 (859925) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:14AM (#14897330) Journal
    Talking about raising funds online in unexpected ways. Air America Radio in Phoenix recently got kicked out of their home station by new christian-radio owners and there was an outcry in the community there. So, they did what any self-respecting liberal would do: they started raising funds for a new home through the use of a "Pixel board" [gotstation.com] petition where one could buy Pixels. Its that "million dollar page" idea I guess, but I've never seen it used as an organizational fundraiser before.

    Not that its really an idea for Mozilla or any other project. Or is it ? In terms of funding through Google, their ad models not only fund browsers rather well, but pretty much the entire web site eco system. Who isn't getting money from the Google Ad Business Model these days ?

    Amazing, although, of course there is a difference between apps getting money and sites getting money. (Have to admit, though, I didn't even know until recently that browsers had that much of an income opportunity just through that Google search field.) Will Google encroach on the big ad agencies' turf soon ?

  • No prob! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gordgekko (574109) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:18AM (#14897343) Homepage
    I'm not opposed to the foundation making money I just want to know where it's going. Why is the foundation so fucking circumspect about telling us?

    Time to switch to Opera I guess...at least I know who is making what there.
  • Bandwidth Fairies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joebert (946227) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:29AM (#14897371) Homepage
    Imagine that, Mozilla has income.
    Here all this time I thought the bandwidth to distribute 100 million coppies at 5 mb each & the occasional updates was being pulled out of the ass of bandwidth faries.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:36AM (#14897387) Journal
    Is it sustainable? Depends if they're making a direct profit from Firefox users. I don't mean an increase in people using their search engine over others, I mean a per-use profit (as in, I do a search in Firefox using Google, Google earns $0.30 and gives Firefox $0.10), then yes, I'd say it is sustainable. Google is currently making a profit all up, so if Firefox users aren't eating into that profit, it should be able to continue indefinitely (unless other things begin to eat too much into Google's profits).
  • A few problems with your argument:

    1: Opera would be making just as much money if they had as many users as Firefox. Google just pays Adsense cash out. Also, there would be MONSTROUS vetching if they paid all those bloggers but not the Mozilla Foundation. Opera can only blame themselves for being less popular than Firefox.

    2: Opera Software a tiny 230-person company? Uh................. Compared to Mozilla, which was / is freeware? Who measures the size of a freeware company? I mean, the Mozilla Foundation might have the biggest bottom line in bloody history for their type of company, at this point. They produce a software product, and give it away. That's it. All their sales are incidental. People can even pick google, yahoo, amazon, creative commons, and yahoo in the little search box (probably more, if extended).

    This is a weird era of software. Make something useful enough and you will make money incidentally due to Google Adsense. Weeeeeird.

    And, of course, there are downsides. My bet is that the Firefox team gets decadent and corrupt and doesn't do anything and fades into the background as IE X comes out or something. I hope not, but that is a real possibility - Microsoft often wins through complacency.

    I'm druknet and going to bed now.
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by /ASCII (86998) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:58AM (#14897427) Homepage
    Agreed. This is wonderful news! A company is funding open source hackers with no requirements on what that money should be used for. If the board acts responsibly and puts the money to good use, this'll help in making the next Firefox version even better.

    In my opinion, they should focus on two completely separate subjects:

    * Performance improvements, mostly in the form of memory usage reductions and removal of memory leaks. One suggestion I've heard a few times is to run all plugins in a separate process which would occasionally get replaced.
    * Hurry up tith the stack of next-generation tools for making it possible to create pages with advanced client-side logic without hacks like AJAX. XForms, a cleaned up JavaScript language, a much expanded JavaScript library including image creation and compression.

    --
    Axel
  • by burnstone (769550) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:07AM (#14897445)
    You don't get it, huh?

    This disable-output-escaping makes simply no sense if you're having a valid xml-doc and an xslt-stylesheet to produce _valid_ xhtml (cause you don't need it for that).

    It does, however, if you're trying to build makefiles with xml/xslt... but then you chose the wrong tool to produce the final result.

    Your browser is made for displaying websites, not producing some weird output.

    Because of this, the mozilla-guys are completely right if they say "no we won't".
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:15AM (#14897454) Journal
    "....to astroturf even. And I wonder if they are - they appear to have an unreasonable amount of support on sites like this...."

    They get "an unreasonable amount of support" because they use the GPL, there is no conspiracy, take away the GPL and they all look pretty much the same. In fact that is the whole point, they can't legally take away the GPL for code that has already been released. Rightly or wronly many "intellectuals" associate open source with freedom and indepenence.

    Money motivates and astroturf happens, but "on sites like this", the GPL stamp is what drives the genuine enthusiasim amongst people who do know their stuff. If you don't "do software" for a living the GPL may seem obscure, but trust me, the GPL is important not only to geeks, but also an ever growing number of corporations and governments.

    When I worked for IBM in the 90's, the then CEO, Lou Gerstner said: "All software has been written, it just needs to be managed". None of us geeks had a fucking clue what he was talking about and simply laughed at his seemingly bizzare pronouncments. Ironically I now make a good living by stiching software components together, many of them open source.
  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:29AM (#14897487) Homepage Journal
    it should be possible to confirm this to a reasonable degree of satisfaction.

    Non-profits, while they don't pay taxes, go through the same auditing process that private companies do. They also have to submit a "Form 990" to the Feds, which is roughtly equivalent except that it is public information. The first section of the form is gross revenues, under which income from contributions and program service revenue are different lines.

    So, if the line for program and service revenue is nearly 100 million, they're probably not getting it from giving backrubs.

    There may be additional state disclosures required, depending on where they're incorporated. For example, here in Massachusetts, it's possible to find out CEO salaries for non-profits. This is designed to prevent people from funneling estate money to their heirs through shell charities.

  • by pelrun (25021) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:33AM (#14897499)
    I don't understand the mental leaps that could reach such a conclusion.

    Nobody knows how much money Google has given Mozilla. But hey, it's Google, Google's rich, therefore Google must have given Mozilla 50 BILLION DOLLARS hence Mozilla must be an evil den of scam artists, cheating HARD WORKING salt-of-the-earth taxpayers out of money to feed their children whilst they worship Satan and drink baby blood for refreshment.

    Um. Right.

    Mozilla has a large number of employees it has to pay. I work for a software startup that has a tenth the number of employees, that operates quite frugally and isn't blowing millions in venture capital like a lot of IT startups have... and yet it *still* has basic operating costs of tens of thousands of dollars a month. Scale that to Mozilla's case and you begin to see it's not fair to expect them to conduct business on insert-unrealistic-personal-expectation -of-"nonprofit"-revenue-here dollars a year. Employees cost money. Office space costs money. Utilities cost money. A *lot* more money than you seem to think it does.

    Yes, my company is for-profit, but that only matters once we start making more than we're spending...

    Additionally, "non-profit" isn't some self-applied fuzzy term that a manager can just decide to ignore when it's convenient - there's a raft of legal and taxation obligations placed on any company with non-profit status. Auditors have to make a living after all...
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org @ m a s k l i nn.net> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:31AM (#14897617)

    Hurry up tith the stack of next-generation tools for making it possible to create pages with advanced client-side logic without hacks like AJAX. XForms, a cleaned up JavaScript language, a much expanded JavaScript library including image creation and compression.

    Fuck that, complete and compliant implementation of CSS2.1 and of every CSS3 module that's ready for implementation please.

    Oh, and they can't use a "cleaned up Javascript language", Javascript has been standardized as ECMA-262 "ECMAScript" and they implement exactly that, if you disagree you've got to meet with ECMA, not the Mozilla Foundation.

    (

    and image creation and compression? stop smoking please, the very last thing I need is people using my browser to generate their frigging bitmaps, you have a server for that shit, use it)

  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org @ m a s k l i nn.net> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:49AM (#14897655)

    Kept at bay?

    WTF, they're two frigging clicks away or something, just click "Add Engines" in your search bar and boom dozens of search engine plugins for you to install...

  • Re:I feel cheated. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JahToasted (517101) <toastafari@yaho o . c om> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:07AM (#14897705) Homepage
    Well you can fork the code and make a version that doesn't make any money for anyone. That is, if you're willing to work for free.
  • by ptbarnett (159784) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:01AM (#14897845)
    On the 2004 return, "sponsorship revenues" were $4,422,674.

    In statement 7, the explanation is:

    Qualified sponsorshiop payments received as the result of agreements between various search providers and Mozilla. These arrangements facilitate the dissemination of the Foundation's Firefox browser, thereby increasing the accessibility of the internet. Mozilla receives payments for allowing the Internet search provider to occupy its default or primary search location, or for the opportunity to be included in the Firefox web browser.

    (Original is all caps. Lameness filter wouldn't let me post it that way)

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:22AM (#14897926)
    All you dreamy eyed college kids working for the 'community'....you are being had. When your college loans come due you will know what I mean.

    So. . . You don't do anything if you aren't being paid, (or unless you are paying some company for the pleasure of spending your time with their product or service)?

    I hope you are mis-reporting yourself.

    I use Firefox and I am very glad to have it. I am not a programmer, so I give my time in other ways to the world in the desire to make things better for the people around me. My community is a good and happy one, and it remains a good and happy one because a lot of people here enjoy donating their time and energy to others. It reciprocates nicely in all manner of ways which money cannot (and should not) measure.

    Living in a community filled only with people who refuse to lift a finger unless they are being paid sounds utterly and completely miserable.

    I'm not saying we don't all have bills at the end of the month. But I am saying that it's vital, if you want a healthy and happy community, that people learn to share and help each other. --Work-for-money fuels the basic structure. Work-for-free fills the structure with color and life.


    -FL

  • by slank (184873) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:56AM (#14898280) Homepage

    If you RTFA, a Mozilla board member says that the quoted figure of $72 million is too high

    Uh, actually if you RTFA, he says that $72 million is not correct. They could be making considerably more than that.

  • That's wacky. I currently have over thirty tabs open--including Google.com/ig which autoreloads every five minutes and another local file that reloads every thirty seconds, and I've been viewing stuff on Google Video--and it's using 111MB mem + 114MB swap after running sine sometime yesterday or the day before. This is Firefox 1.5.0.1 on Windows XP with 512MB of RAM. I do wish it used a lot less memory, but I'm not complaining so much at this point. It used to use more, but it's been much better these past few weeks, possibly because I set config.trim_on_minimise to true.

    On the other hand, it's crashing nearly daily for me. Google Gmail seems to be the primary culprit, probably coupled with one of the extensions I'm running.

    Right now, the things I would most want fixed for my own use are (in order): stability, memory usage, CPU usage (esp. when Flash adverts appear, but I should probably just block those), and then improved CSS support.

    But I'm too stupid to do it myself, I'm sorry to say. Maybe someday I'll really dive into the codebase, but the code is huge an complex.

  • by john-da-luthrun (876866) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:25AM (#14898407)
    Well that's true, but in the context it seemed rather more likely he meant the figure was lower. Otherwise it would be a rather evasive and misleading answer, and I was being charitable to the guy. ;-)
  • by hkmwbz (531650) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:15PM (#14898597) Journal
    But Opera hasn't receives donations from Google, IBM, Sun, Nokia and other huge corporations. The search deal is one thing - it's a business deal. But Mozilla got pure donations, even from AOL. Opera could never rely on donations, but had to sell an actual product to customers.

    Heck, Google even pays people to work on Mozilla (Ben Goodger?), and I think IBM and several other major companies do as well.

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:54PM (#14898738)

    transparency is crucial to ethical behavior

    Just a question, do you think that all private companies should be required to publicly disclose their financials, like publicly traded companies are, in the interests of "ethical behaviour"?

    If you owned a private business would you think it's best to keep your finances public? (One problem with this line of thinking is that the smaller the business, the more blurry the line between the individual and the company --- at some point one would inevitably have to also then argue that the financials of an individual should be public information, and then hence, every individual's. It isn't really my business what my neighbour is spending his money on so long as his actions aren't harming me or others - and if they are, it's usually possible to tell regardless of transparency due to the consequences.)

    I'm not convinced that transparency is vital to maintain ethical behaviour within an organisation. If it was, private companies would be havens of illegal behaviour, yet we already have enough checks and safeguards against actual illegal activities that transparency isn't really necessary to keep the system working ... there are millions of private companies that are run quite ethically. For example I own a private business and of course do not release my financials ... but there is little opportunity for me to behave unethically or illegally (even if I wanted to, which I don't), because my financials are still audited and because it wouldn't be possible for me to charge others without delivering the product - I'd get sued.

    I don't see mention of Mozilla's "business model" anywhere on their site, and that disappoints me

    I start to agree with you somewhat here: The Mozilla Foundation tends to "parade itself" almost as a kind of charity / non-profit organisation. But clearly there is a "business model" of sorts. This seems deceptive. Without transparency, the executives could be (for example) paying themselves millions. This isn't necessarily illegal but would be unethical. This is the real issue here and what "nags", not the mere fact that they make money or that they market.

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:07PM (#14898793) Homepage
    The sugar daddies are the likes of Sun, Nokia, IBM, and so on, who donated millions to
    Mozilla. And of course AOL which put a lot of money into the project initially. Opera has not been able to rely on donations from other companies


    Sure. But why do you think all of those companies were willing to donate time and money to Mozilla, but not to Opera?

  • by pingveno (708857) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:47PM (#14899135)
    If you spent the time reading the submission on digg.com, you would see that the lack of a change isn't caused by laziness; they have a valid, if somewhat controversial, reason to not implement disable-output-escaping.
  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pingveno (708857) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:56PM (#14899176)

    So there's nothing wrong with, say, loan sharks then?

    Wait, did I just read someone equating loan sharks with anyone making money?

    Pingveno shakes head sadly.

  • by rm69990 (885744) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:54PM (#14900151)
    So? Firefox is open source, Opera is not. I personally could care less (I run Windows) but obviously IBM et al are going to throw their money at the open source product over the proprietary one.
  • by TechnologyX (743745) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:22PM (#14900981) Journal
    Bull FUCKING shit you stupid OSS faggot. Why does anything have to have the GPL cancer applied to it before you stupid cockfucks will even use it? OH NOES SOMEONE IS MAKING MONEY FROM THIS!!111 I MUST HATE IT111!! God I fucking hate you, I hope you choke on a fucking exhaust pipe

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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