Mozilla, the organization behind the popular Firefox web browser, has extended its search deal with Google for another three years. In return for setting Google as the default search engine on Firefox, Google pays Mozilla a substantial sum - in 2006 the total amounted to around $57 million, or 85% of the company’s total revenue. The deal was originally going to expire in 2006, but was later extended to 2008 and will now run through 2011.
The deal will ensure that the Mozilla foundation will be able to continue with the development of Firefox, its mail client Thunderbird, and a number of other applications. From Mozilla CEO John Lilly:
“We’re very, very happy about our relationship with Google and this makes sure that Mozilla will be sustainable and thrive for quite a long time to come”.
Mozilla uses the funds to pay staff, support its bandwidth and hardware infrastructure, and to distribute a number of grants. Because the search giant accounts for 85% of its revenues, Mozilla has become almost totally reliant on Google, something that has apparently concerned a number of members in the open source community. But Mozilla maintains that the two organizations operate independently. From its 2006 Financial FAQ:
“We develop our product and technical direction as part of an open process unrelated to the search relationship with Google. We talk to Google about the parts of the product that offer Google services (i.e., the Firefox Start Page) and the services they provide, like anti-phishing. Otherwise Google does not have any special relationship to Mozilla project activities.”
The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that owns two taxable companies that earmark all profits for the Foundation’s open source projects. You can see the original announcement at Mozilla Chairperson Mitchell Baker’s blog.