Mozilla, which maintains the popular Firefox browser, is laying off roughly 250 people as part of a larger reorganization. In a blog posting, the company suggested that its pre-COVID business plan “is no longer workable.”
This is the second time this year that Mozilla has initiated layoffs; it cut 70 employees in January, according to TechCrunch. These eliminations are supposed to result in Mozilla’s renewed ability” to build and invest in products and services that will give people alternatives to conventional Big Tech,” that blog posting added.
Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker wrote about the Mozilla employees facing cuts:
“These are individuals of exceptional professional and personal caliber who have made outstanding contributions to who we are today. To each of them, I extend my heartfelt thanks and deepest regrets that we have come to this point. This is a humbling recognition of the realities we face, and what is needed to overcome them.”
As part of the restructuring, Mozilla will focus more on products that actually cost money. For example, it has been aggressively pushing Mozilla VPN (formerly Mozilla Private Network), which retails for $4.99 per month. The big question is whether revenue from those products will make up for the loss of Mozilla’s contract with Google, which made Google the default search engine in Firefox; according to ZDNet, that contract was responsible for 90 percent of Mozilla’s revenue.
For the past two decades, Mozilla has rolled out a number of popular products, most notably the Firefox browser. It also produced much-used email clients (Thunderbird), Bugzilla (for vulnerability-tracking), and others (including the interesting but doomed Firefox OS). Although the company tried to differentiate itself in an increasingly crowded arena by emphasizing its privacy features, that wasn’t enough to preserve its market-share in the face of strong competitors such as Google Chrome.
As a result, Mozilla sees a radical restructuring as its best option for survival. But what will it roll out besides the VPN, and will that be enough to retain the company’s community?