Mozilla Foundation

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Mozilla Foundation
Legal form: Non-profit organization
Purpose: Software manufacturing
Chair: Mitchell Baker
Consist: since July 15, 2003
Founder: America Online
Foundation capital: 2 million US dollars
Number of employees: about 1000
Seat: Mountain View , California
Former (until 2009) office of the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation

The Mozilla Foundation is a US non-profit organization that was set up to support the Mozilla free software project . The organization determines the direction in which the development of the projects will continue, provides a basic legal infrastructure and takes care of trademarks and other intellectual property . The Foundation has a subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation , which has hired some developers and coordinates the versions of the Firefox and Thunderbird projects. It is headquartered in Mountain View in Silicon Valley in California .

The Mozilla Foundation describes itself as a "non-profit organization dedicated to promoting choice and innovation on the Internet".


Historic logo of the Mozilla Foundation

On February 23, 1998, the US company Netscape Communications launched the Mozilla Organization to coordinate the development of the Mozilla Application Suite . The organization consisted almost entirely of Netscape employees, although in theory it was independent of the company. The Mozilla organization claimed to be running the Mozilla browser for testing purposes only, and not for end users. This initially led to the creation of the Beonex Communicator , of which there were also end-user versions, but most users still downloaded the “official” Mozilla packages.

When AOL-TimeWarner and Microsoft reached an out-of-court settlement in antitrust proceedings in May 2003 - Microsoft transferred AOL US $ 750 million in compensation and also granted AOL royalty-free use of Internet Explorer technology for seven years - the end of Netscape seemed very likely.

On July 15, 2003 , AOL closed the Netscape browser development department and transferred it to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which would henceforth take care of the further development of the code. The last 50 Netscape developers have been laid off. AOL generously helped spin off the project: The hardware used was given to the Foundation, as well as the rights to the Mozilla code and the Mozilla and Bugzilla brands, three employees paid for the first three months, and two million dollars in donations over the next two years promised. AOL retained the rights to the name Netscape.

Mozilla Corporation

Mozilla Corporation logo

On August 3, 2005, a good two years later, the Foundation set up the Mozilla Corporation to ensure the development and dissemination of the projects. The corporation is responsible for the release planning and marketing . She also has ties with companies, many of which generate income for Mozilla. Unlike the non-profit foundation, the Mozilla Corporation is a taxable company, which therefore has much greater freedom in business matters. Mozilla Messaging was founded parallel to Mozilla Corporation in 2007 and took over the development of Thunderbird . In April 2011, it was reintegrated into the Mozilla Foundation or Mozilla Corporation, as the messaging offshoot did not prove to be conducive to development.


The Mozilla Foundation's remit quickly grew beyond that of the old organization as it took over many of the things that were originally part of Netscape. Then there was a trend towards end users and the Foundation began doing business with commercial companies that were supposed to sell Mozilla on CDs and offer telephone support, for example. The same providers were used as in Netscape's times. At the same time, the Mozilla Foundation began paying attention to its brands and logos, developing copyright guidelines, and launching marketing campaigns.

When the Mozilla Corporation was founded, all business tasks were transferred to it. Nowadays, the Foundation only deals with the management of the projects (that is, Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird , but also the not "marketed" projects Camino , SeaMonkey , etc.) as well as the creation and enforcement of guidelines in development and marketing. The Foundation owns the trademark rights and other intellectual property; The corporation has licenses for this. She also has control over the source code repositories of the Mozilla projects and decides who is allowed to upload code.

On February 13, 2007, version 0.9 of the “Mozilla Manifesto” was presented to the public, in which the basic principles of the foundation are described.

There is a discussion about separating the Firefox and Thunderbird programs , as both would have to take the other program into account due to the same code base. This would mean a lot of effort on both sides and neither of the two projects could fully concentrate on the areas that are most important to them.


The Mozilla Foundation accepts donations as funding. In addition to AOL's $ 2 million donation, Mitch Kapor added $ 300,000 to the foundation.

The Foundation is a tax-exempt organization under US law (a so-called 501 (c) organization ) while Mozilla Corporation is a for-profit company.

The Foundation also has agreements with various search engine providers. For a long time , Google was the standard search engine in the Firefox search bar in many language versions. In 2006, 78% of its revenue came from an agreement with Google. At the end of 2015, however, the Foundation no longer had any business relationships with Google. Contrary to concerns about this change, revenues had not decreased but increased since then.

This framework only changed again with the release of Firefox 57 "Quantum" on November 14, 2017, when Mozilla terminated the contract with Yahoo , which had replaced the previous financing by Google, at this point in time before its intended end in 2019 and returned to Google as the main financier. Since then, Google has been the default search engine again instead of Yahoo in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as in most language settings. According to press reports, Mozilla had reserved a right of termination in the event of the company merger of Yahoo with Verizon and AOL to form Oath , the exercise of which the Mozilla Foundation can claim annually until the end of the originally planned contract period of $ 375 million.

Overall, Firefox is delivered with 60 different search engine providers, depending on the language version and the corresponding search engine market. In the Russian and Turkish versions, Yandex and in the Chinese Baidu are preset.

Most of the surplus is invested as a reserve in low-risk capital market investments in order to ensure that the foundation can sustainably finance its activities even if the income is lost for a longer period of time.

year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Spending in $ 1000 8,173 19,776 33,328 49,396 61,158 87,348 145.484 208,587 295,460 317,849 337,698 360,600 421,787 451.371
Income in $ 1000 52.907 66,841 75.126 78,598 104,305 123.206 163,474 311.005 314.100 329,558 421.275 520.373 562.279 450,860
Annual report 2005 (PDF) 2006 (PDF) 2007 (PDF) 2008 (PDF) 2009 (PDF) 2010 (PDF) 2011 (PDF) 2012 (PDF) 2013 (PDF) 2014 (PDF) 2015 (PDF) 2016 (PDF) 2017 (PDF) 2018 (PDF)


The Mozilla Foundation board of directors consists of seven members:

Christopher Blizzard was also on the board, but moved to the board of the Mozilla Corporation. Other former board members are Joichi Ito , Brendan Eich and Mitch Kapor .

The managing director of the Mozilla Foundation is Mark Surman .

International marketing

Mozilla Europe , Mozilla Japan and Mozilla China are non-profit organizations that are legally independent of each other, but are closely related to the Mozilla Foundation and promote the marketing of Mozilla products in the regions.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Florian Kalenda: Mozilla: Brendan Eich was not forced to withdraw. In: ZDNet . April 7, 2014, accessed April 30, 2014 .
  2. When giants dance . Spiegel Online , May 30, 2003.
  3. Mozilla Messaging develops Thunderbird 3 ., February 19, 2008.
  4. Mozilla's Manifesto: 10 Principles for an Open, Accessible and Life Enriching Internet
  5. ^ "Mozilla's Manifesto for a Better Internet" , Heise Online , February 14, 2007.
  6. Mozilla boss wants to outsource e-mail client Thunderbird. In: Retrieved December 3, 2015 .
  7. Mozilla Foundation no longer lives on Google, but continues to live on search engine deals , November 26, 2015.
  8. Firefox maker Mozilla: We don't need Google's money anymore , November 25, 2015.
  9. First year after Google: Mozilla increases sales by 90 million dollars . In: . December 1, 2016 ( [accessed November 14, 2017]).
  10. Torsten Kleinz: Firefox Quantum: Ausgefuchst . In: The time . November 15, 2017, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed November 15, 2017]).
  11. Firefox: Mozilla ends deal with Yahoo! early, new contract with Google . In: . November 15, 2017 ( [accessed November 15, 2017]).
  12. Axel Kannenberg: Default search engine: Mozilla ends deal with Yahoo. In: Heise Online Newsticker. November 16, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017 .
  13. ^ Frederic Lardinois: Mozilla terminates its deal with Yahoo and makes Google the default in Firefox again . In: TechCrunch . ( [accessed November 15, 2017]).
  14. Mozilla: Partnership with Yahoo for Firefox's default search engine , November 20, 2014.
  15. Yandex becomes default search engine in Turkish Firefox , April 25, 2015.
  16. ^ A b Mozilla Leadership. Retrieved April 8, 2019 .
  17. Mozilla boss Baker: "Nobody can buy the Firefox community" . Spiegel Online , February 13, 2008; interview