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Mozilla Raking in Millions? 386

truthsearch writes " 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 )
    ...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).
    • TFA says "millions" (Score:5, Informative)

      by john-da-luthrun ( 876866 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:01AM (#14897297)
      If you RTFA, a Mozilla board member says that the quoted figure of $72 million is too high, but "not off by an order of magnitude".
      • TFA says the $72 million figure is not correct, "though not off by an order of magnitude."

        This implies at least 10 million but less than 100 million.

      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:29AM (#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.

  • If they are then (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metricmusic ( 766303 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:43AM (#14897134) Homepage Journal
    good on them.

    I salute them!

  • Worth It (Score:2, Insightful)

    by komodo9 ( 577710 )
    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 @04:47AM (#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?

    • In 2005, ZDNet UK interviewed Jon von Tetzchner [], the chief executive of Opera Softare. In response to a question about why the free version of Opera blinds the user with advertisements, he responded, " A lot of people don't like our ads, which is sad as we don't have a rich sugar daddy like the Mozilla Foundation. They [the Mozilla Firefox team] don't have to think about money as they're being funded. We're not being funded ". Tetzchner was close to the truth. Apparently, the real sugar daddy is Google.
      • by neonstz ( 79215 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:32AM (#14897236) Homepage
        Tetzchner was close to the truth. Apparently, the real sugar daddy is Google.
        Opera makes money on user searches too, and they did before they released the free version.
      • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:48AM (#14897273)
        Unless the anti-establishment mavericks in tech communities like SlashDot aggressively support Opera by buying commercial Opera-Software products, Opera just might disappear, being squeezed to death by the big 3 browers: Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox.

        Do we care? Opera could have been Firefox if they had GPLed it. Mozilla saw their opportunity and now they're benefiting from their foresight.

        Opera could become an open source (as in "freedom") company any time they want, and they'd instantly see a jump in the number of people using their browser, because suddenly it would be included in Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, and so on. Instead they've decided to sell (via a third party) closed-source browsers for mobiles. Good for them, and if they ever decide to put the big "GPL" stamp on their software, then they can count on a sudden jump in the number of people using their software. You can only get that jump with GPL, though.
      • by rm69990 ( 885744 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:17AM (#14897339)
        Google has a similar relationship with Opera, just to let you know.
        • 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.

          • 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.
      • 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
    • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by m50d ( 797211 )
      It implies they have more motivation to market, to exaggerate their features, to astroturf even. And I wonder if they are - they appear to have an unreasonable amount of support on sites like this for how good their browser actually is.
      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:59AM (#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.

      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:15AM (#14897454) Journal
        " 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.
  • Thats not too small! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ikejam ( 821818 )
    But is this really sustainable in the long run? That seems to be a lot of money.

    I guess its a stupid question - seems to be a win-win situation at the outset - though google paying firefox seems more "dont be evil" driven than bottom-line minded. I mean even if they didn't pay, what were the chances that it wasn't going to be google up there?
    • 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.
    • Google has the same system for Opera, which leads me to conclude they want Opera and Firefox to be the top browsers (which wouldn't be a bad situation, if you ask me).

      Judging by how little I use Google's front page any more, I am guessing that the future of search engines is through the browser's search bar. Should the day come where the world is dominated by Mozilla and Opera, it would be very hard for any other search engine to buy into the "put me first in your browser's search bar" setup when Google

    • Yes, it sustainable. It's just as sustainable as Google Adsense.

      Google aren't really the ones giving the money. Advertisers are giving Google money whenever someone uses the Google search bar on Firefox and ends up clicking on the ads on the resulting search page. Google themselves get the money and give Mozilla a cut.

      Through the sheer number of searches being done in Firefox, Mozilla ends up getting a rather large cut.
    • 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)
  • by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:49AM (#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 RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:50AM (#14897150) Homepage Journal
    Do they also get $ from searches on ebay, amazon, or yahoo (which are also listed on the toolbar)?
  • by HeavyMS ( 820705 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:56AM (#14897159)
    So you are telling me that for every googeling I do in the quick search bar mozzila gets paid. I was under the impression that this was free software. Not some scam to make $$.
  • by The Hobo ( 783784 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:57AM (#14897162)
    By using this link [] to get to the story ;-)

    Interesting to note the default "google" keyword for the address bar puts the sourceid=firefox in there

    As an aside, for those who want to make their own custom keywords (and don't know how to), here's an example: Bookmarks->Manage Bookmarks, click on any of the bookmarks under "quick searches", click new bookmark (top left), I made one for acronyms using acronym finder.

    Name: Acronym Finder
    Location: right click here, copy link location, paste (/. chews up the link) []
    Keyword: af
    Description: You can put whatever you want here, it's optional

    Then you click ok. Now when in firefox you can just search for acronyms by typing af + the acronym, for example: af HTTP

    For other websites that use a link similar to the acronymfinder one, just insert %s where your query would go. In my example it's in Acronym=%s. You can also note the other default quicksearches that already exist (ex. slang for urban dictionary, dict for
    • Actually, you can just right-click an input box on a form and select "Add a keyword for this search..." which will work more easily, especially with post-method forms, unless they've taken the feature out in the newer versions of firefox...
  • How much ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nocloo ( 82496 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @04:58AM (#14897164)
    Lets do some basic math and see how the numbers add up.

    - Of the 100 million downloads lets say 20% are daily/active users -> 20 2illion users.
    - Of the 20 million daily users, lets says 20% do make at least 1 search query. -> 4 million queries/day.
    - If google pays around 0.02c a query. They get 80k/day x 30 days = 3.2Mil x 12 months =~ 38 Mil right there. A conservative number ... but still A LOT MONEY !!

    • Re:How much ? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houseofzeus ( 836938 )
      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.
      • Re:How much ? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Westley ( 99238 )
        While I suspect the grandparent's estimate is high, you've misinterpreted it by two orders of magnitude - it wasn't $0.02 per click, it was 0.02 *cents* per click. Still a lot just for doing a search though.
      • I could be wrong, but I read somewhere that Google makes on average $0.11 revenue for every search on their site (some will have multiple ad clicks, some none, this is an average). $0.02 wouldn't seem high if you think about it this way.
  • by sundru ( 709023 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:05AM (#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 matthewsmalley ( 242855 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:20AM (#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.
      • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:36AM (#14897247)
        If you give money to mozilla, you will give to the Mozilla Foundation which is a non-profit. If Google gives money to Mozilla, they will give to the Mozilla Corporation (corporations have less regulations) whose sole shareholder is the Mozilla Foundation.

        You can't really object to the Mozilla Corporation saying "Oh, they'll put all that money in the pockets of their shareholders" because the only shareholder they have is a non-profit entity.

        The corporation does not disclose how much they make and they pay taxes.
      • The IRS and California Franchise Board will take care of these things *quite well*.

        While the details of what will have to report to these entities isn't revealed, some metrics are disclosed if you look for them. To maintain the "non-profit" designation (it's not necessarily a 501C type organization), how the money is spent regarding employees, etc. has to fall into certain broad criteria specified by's Board as well as certain percentages. Because's "benefit to the commun
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:08AM (#14897188) Homepage Journal
    .... other open source software.
    • It could. Other free software just needs to find a way of partnering with companies that are relevant for their software. It's not impossible.

      I think the hardest part would be finding companies that are as open-minded as Google is. Most companies don't like trying new things, whereas Google understands that its success is due to it trying new ways of doing things.
  • by The Hobo ( 783784 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:08AM (#14897189)
    Firefox has been mentionned based on their search bars, a while ago the German version of Firefox was said to have "spyware" []
  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:09AM (#14897191)
    This is a great example of an open source program making money off its success. It wouldn't be impossible for other open source programs to do similar sponsorship deals with other companies.

    Maybe Linux could have a "You know, Windows has a lower TCO" message when it's booting up.
  • I believe Google would tweak their financial contributions such that the developers of firefox can do their work, and nothing more.

    Personally, I am also not using the search box at all, nor the google: keyword, I just use a link to google in the toolbar. I'll try to rig it a bit in firefox's favor now, but I won't rig every pc I work on this way.
  • i didn't know open source meant non-profit
  • Who owns who (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ben Jao Ming ( 812324 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:35AM (#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:Who owns who (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rm69990 ( 885744 )
      Mozilla's Chinese division does have a deal with Yahoo!, although they may change this to Google now that Google has a Chinese version of Google hosted in China. I'm willing to bet Yahoo! pays Mozilla for this partnership, much like Google does.
  • by srhoades ( 656176 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:36AM (#14897248)
    Statistically speaking firefox users are more tech savy. Which therefore transaltes to more socially dysfunctionally people, which ends is a much more searches for pr0n. Remove the pr0n searches and Firefox employees are picking up cans after hours in the Google parking lot to subsidize their salary.
  • "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 no
  • by Aqua04 ( 859925 )
    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" [] 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

  • No prob! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gordgekko ( 574109 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:18AM (#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 least I know who is making what there.
  • by wwmedia ( 950346 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:22AM (#14897355)
    heres how much i make a month just from search alone

    53,846 @ 3,557clicks = $261.67

    now thats per month and im a small publisher

    firefox probably gets that many searches every minute!

    also they pay up to $1 for every person who downloads firefox from a referal from my site

  • Bandwidth Fairies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:29AM (#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.
  • for profit or non? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by matgorb ( 562145 )
    My real question is where all this money goes, I had the, maybe stupid, idea that the Mozilla foundation was non for profit, hence all the money they make is to pay their employees and invest. Now, if they make real money out of it, I would be a little bit pissed off, since I donated money to advertise their product, I mean if they have that much money, they can sure do some advertisement, can't they? I'm not saying I'm ennoyed I gave money, but when I see that : "# What is the purpose of this site? As a
    • by pelrun ( 25021 )
      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 sta
  • Mozilla and Google (Score:3, Informative)

    by ortcutt ( 711694 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:26AM (#14897476)
    Well. Mozilla HQ is about practically on Google's campus.

    Map of Mozilla HQ []

    Map of Google HQ []

  • I don't think I understand this right... some people seem to suggest Mozilla and co. making some money is a bad thing ? It's the new fashion to hate people when they finally get some real money for the work they've done and are doing ? Maybe, if they were some huge bad company making buggy and unsecure and unstable and unusable software and would get bloody rich with it. Other than that, I just wish them good luck, and even more luck and money in the future, until they continue to make good and free apps, a
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:06AM (#14897557) Journal
    I cannot have the people behind the browser I use making money from it, that may in turn lead to improvements and new features etc.

    Of course, everyone knows that is a lie, as soon as they get money they will tie the product to intel and force me to upgrade to large and larger versions which do the same thing with built in backward incompatability!

    Damnit! I am going back to Firefox 0.4a thankyouverymuch. /lol
  • Focus on mozilla? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shish ( 588640 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:13AM (#14898105) Homepage
    How much money does slashdot make from all the advertising?
  • Good for FF... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Churla ( 936633 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:17AM (#14898123)
    One thing many people on the internet have yet to embrace is a simple fact. Everybody needs to survive, and in our world that means income. Period. Even the open source software we love so much has to earn itself a living somehow else it will always be a distant "when I get spare time i look at it" stepchild, or a "I'm doing this to get my name known" project which is apt to have it's best developers move onto paying gigs.

    Look at the biggest names in Open Source, they all have some income generating stream somewhere. If this is how Mozilla drums up money for FF than more power to them as it's the least intrusive money making scheme i've seen in software yet. (Compare to banner ads for instance)

The absent ones are always at fault.