Mozilla is laying off around 250 employees as part of major restructuring

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,503   +122
Staff member
In brief: The Mozilla Corporation on Tuesday announced a significant restructuring that executives believe is necessary in order to enhance their ability to develop products and services that give users an alternative to “conventional Big Tech.”

Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker said their pre-Covid plan for 2020 already included a great deal of change but thanks to the virus, that plan is no longer sustainable. Like many, Mozilla is feeling the economic impact brought about by the global pandemic and sees no other choice but to reduce the size of its workforce.

Baker said around 250 employees will be laid off and operations in Taipei, Taiwan, will be closed. Another 60 employees or so will be moved to different teams, we’re told.

Looking ahead, Baker said Mozilla will be smaller and able to act more quickly and nimbly.

"We’ll experiment more. We’ll adjust more quickly. We’ll join with allies outside of our organization more often and more effectively. We’ll meet people where they are. We’ll become great at expressing and building our core values into products and programs that speak to today’s issues."

Mozilla's Firefox web browser is used on roughly eight percent of desktops worldwide according to data from StatCounter and Net Applications. Google's Chrome, by comparison, has a market share closer to 70 percent.

Those being let go will get severance that is at least equivalent to their full base pay through December 31, 2020, and any performance bonuses they are owed, plus health care benefits through the end of the year.

Impacted employees in the US and Canada will be notified today while those in other parts of the world will be told as local laws require. More details will be shared with employees during a company meeting on Thursday.

Image credit: Sundry Photography, Tada Images

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BSim500

Posts: 693   +1,440
"We will become the modern organization we aim to be — combining product, technology and advocacy"

"Mozilla is a technical powerhouse of the internet activist movement. And we must stay that way."

"Mozilla must be a world-class, modern, multi-product internet organization. That means diverse, representative, focused on people outside of our walls, solving problems, building new products, engaging with users and doing the magic of mixing tech with our values."
It's the same empty meaningless political waffle it's been for the past few years. A bunch of overpaid, overly political executives who think they'll change the world by constantly removing features, dumbing the browser down even more, and who just end up driving even more people to Vivaldi / Ungoogled Chromium whilst giving themselves $500k salaries as a reward for losing 75% market share...

Firefox Tab Settings Page (link) vs Vivaldi Tab Settings Page (link). Remember kids, Firefox used to be the browser for "power users". How times have changed...
 
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tomkaten

Posts: 284   +219
Mozilla is the poster boy for "how you shouldn't do business". Repeatedly ignoring your user base and finally succumbing to the one browser people want an alternative to won't win you any favors.

Today's Fx is but a shadow of its old self. It's dumbed down and pretty limited.
 

winjer

Posts: 71   +197
I have used Firefox for several years now. Both on Android and on PC.
But lately it has become increasingly difficult to keep using it.
Version 79 of Firefox is a good example of this. A dumbed down version, features removed or limited and a terrible interface. Had to download the apk of version 68 and turn off auto updates.

I tried Brave a couple of weeks ago and it was good on PC. But I didn't like the lack of addons on the Android version. I hear they are going to implement support for it....
 
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antiproduct

Posts: 148   +161
Seems like I'm not the only one who quit using it because they broke or removed features. I loved the old Firefox + tab mix plus. I like lots of tabs open and the infinite scroll REALLY sucks. So I either use Waterfox (with all my old extensions that FF killed) or Vivaldi now.
 

amghwk

Posts: 765   +543
If not for the Addons and Quit option with selective history/privacy clearing on exit, I wouldn't have been using Firefox on Android. The latest update breaks many things with incomprehensible dumbing down of options and bad UI choices.I too have turned off Auto Updates for FF and using previous version.

As for PC, I'm still using FF. Mainly because of addons and customizations.

Don't like how the way FF team is shaping up to be a real corporation though...
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,550   +1,536
TechSpot Elite
I still use FF on PC as the last time I set the kids free to use Chrome and FFox with no restrictions (as a test), Chrome bogged down in crapware in about 3 months and FFox stayed clean. It's been a couple years since then and maybe things are better now in Chrome, but so far FFox is working for us.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,942   +2,323
Firefox spent too much time trying to cater to the same population Google goes for, instead of listening to the base that had kept it alive for so long: the power users. Same thing that destroys a LOT of companies.

The totally screwed the pooch on mobile, firefox OS could have been a fascinating alternative to android had development continued, hell what they really needed to do was partner with someone like motorola or LG to offer firefox editions of their phones. Especially today, with Google chasing the iOS dream of locked down environments, there is real demand for a phone not dependent on Alphabet.

Firefox was also an early adopter of "get woke go broke" as well, using personal comments made by a board member as an excuse to get rid of them, opening the floodgates.

I still think there is time to change though. Firefox needs to look back into their smartphone OS. That is where the REAL money maker is, and there are enough people seeking a google alternative to make it popular. A phone like the moto g power or LG V60 would be great for a firefox OS basis.

Instead I fear that soon Firefox will die on the vine.
 

fadingfool

Posts: 178   +176
Still use ff as my goto browser - mainly as an alternative to google's tendrils. Whilst it isn't as lightweight as it used to be it does have the advantage of not being google or microsoft. I also use Opera every now and then. 8% may sound small but it still a lot of users especially for a browser you have to decide to use and install (unlike Chrome which is embedded in Android and Edge that is embedded in Windows) .
FF almost lost me when pockets was shoved down our throats (switched to palemoon for awhile).
 
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Cubi Dorf

Posts: 236   +90
Is anyone trying WaterFox? Firefox was long ago fork from Mozilla which was fork from Netscape. Waterfox may be next.
 

dotnon

Posts: 36   +48
Been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix, so not the most impartial, and I've had my gripes, but there are a lot of comments slagging off Mozilla for abandoning its customers here so a bit of context is needed.

Consider where they were - for a long time, Firefox was a single-process browser, which meant that all web content, extensions and internal processes ran in a single process. This was fine in 2003, but it is not how you'd build a modern browser. A bad extension that monopolized all the threads of that process could easily bring it down, and modern web context is a much more complex beast. They knew they had to go multi-process.

But there was a problem - the extension language, XUL, depends on that single-process architecture. The language inherently assumes that the chrome code and web code runs in the same process.

So the update that killed XUL extensions (around 40 wasn't it?) was painful but necessary. Some of those extensions were great, but they were far too tightly coupled to the internal workings of the browser, thus they often broke unintentionally when Firefox was updated, and had far too much power. Seriously. Trusting an XUL extension developer was akin to the trust you put in Mozilla itself, and that's not really reasonable - your average Joe does not do due diligence on random extension developers, and Mozilla didn't have the manpower to vet every submission to their addons repository.

Then you have the monstrosities such as the Skype click-to-phone extension, which was silently installed when Skype was updated, performed so badly it ground the browser to a halt, and people blamed Mozilla for making a slow browser. XUL had to die, but there was unavoidably a lot of collateral damage.

Web extensions are much more limited, but the security model is a vast improvement - you no longer have to give every extension you install the same rights as the Firefox process itself. And credit where it's due - the web extension architecture was designed by Google for Chrome. As a result there aren't too many changes that a developer has to make to make the same extension work on Firefox, so that guaranteed a large developer support base from day one.

So with XUL gone, Mozilla was free to make the multi-process transition (e10s), which was also painful in itself, but has certainly paid off. The browser is faster, more stable and more secure than it's ever been, so if anything there are more reasons to use Firefox today than before XUL was killed. They're not done though - currently all web content is in the same process, but this is set to change.

Another reason to use Firefox is plain old diversity on the web - the technical advocacy function that Mozilla performs. Without Mozilla on standards boards, the entire direction of the web could be determined by tech giants with commercial interests, which are not the same as yours as an individual. Furthermore, I don't think anyone wants a return to the days of one browser (remember IE6?) even if that browser is based on an open source project. With that kind of power, Google would be free to essentially ignore standards bodies - Chrome becomes the reference browser and everyone else has to copy its bugs - arguably this is already happening.

With Edge throwing in the towel and using Chromium, and Opera having switched long ago, Firefox is the only alternative browser engine left. We need it to be successful for the sake of a healthy ecosystem.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,942   +2,323
Been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix, so not the most impartial, and I've had my gripes, but there are a lot of comments slagging off Mozilla for abandoning its customers here so a bit of context is needed.

Consider where they were - for a long time, Firefox was a single-process browser, which meant that all web content, extensions and internal processes ran in a single process. This was fine in 2003, but it is not how you'd build a modern browser. A bad extension that monopolized all the threads of that process could easily bring it down, and modern web context is a much more complex beast. They knew they had to go multi-process.

But there was a problem - the extension language, XUL, depends on that single-process architecture. The language inherently assumes that the chrome code and web code runs in the same process.

So the update that killed XUL extensions (around 40 wasn't it?) was painful but necessary. Some of those extensions were great, but they were far too tightly coupled to the internal workings of the browser, thus they often broke unintentionally when Firefox was updated, and had far too much power. Seriously. Trusting an XUL extension developer was akin to the trust you put in Mozilla itself, and that's not really reasonable - your average Joe does not do due diligence on random extension developers, and Mozilla didn't have the manpower to vet every submission to their addons repository.

Then you have the monstrosities such as the Skype click-to-phone extension, which was silently installed when Skype was updated, performed so badly it ground the browser to a halt, and people blamed Mozilla for making a slow browser. XUL had to die, but there was unavoidably a lot of collateral damage.

Web extensions are much more limited, but the security model is a vast improvement - you no longer have to give every extension you install the same rights as the Firefox process itself. And credit where it's due - the web extension architecture was designed by Google for Chrome. As a result there aren't too many changes that a developer has to make to make the same extension work on Firefox, so that guaranteed a large developer support base from day one.

So with XUL gone, Mozilla was free to make the multi-process transition (e10s), which was also painful in itself, but has certainly paid off. The browser is faster, more stable and more secure than it's ever been, so if anything there are more reasons to use Firefox today than before XUL was killed. They're not done though - currently all web content is in the same process, but this is set to change.

Another reason to use Firefox is plain old diversity on the web - the technical advocacy function that Mozilla performs. Without Mozilla on standards boards, the entire direction of the web could be determined by tech giants with commercial interests, which are not the same as yours as an individual. Furthermore, I don't think anyone wants a return to the days of one browser (remember IE6?) even if that browser is based on an open source project. With that kind of power, Google would be free to essentially ignore standards bodies - Chrome becomes the reference browser and everyone else has to copy its bugs - arguably this is already happening.

With Edge throwing in the towel and using Chromium, and Opera having switched long ago, Firefox is the only alternative browser engine left. We need it to be successful for the sake of a healthy ecosystem.
That's a cool story and all, except for the minor issue that Waterfox never dropped XUL yet also supports multi process operation. Sounds like a big load of bull from the Mozilla guys excusing their laziness, same people who looked to excuse why, despite years of development, features from firefox focus STILL havent been implemented into firefox mobile, among other delays.
 

dotnon

Posts: 36   +48
That's a cool story and all, except for the minor issue that Waterfox never dropped XUL yet also supports multi process operation. Sounds like a big load of bull from the Mozilla guys excusing their laziness, same people who looked to excuse why, despite years of development, features from firefox focus STILL havent been implemented into firefox mobile, among other delays.
Cool sarky comment and all, but you only argued one point? To be honest I've not looked at Waterfox, will have to check it out. But a quick glance shows that they maintain two branches - "current" and "classic". "current" does not support XUL (/NPAPI), and "classic" is only receiving bug and security fixes. Sounds a lot like Firefox LTS.

My impression is that this project tracks Firefox development, so by using it you're using 98% Firefox anyway (sans telemetry and a few other bits). I very much doubt they have re-engineered the NPAPI plugin engine to support multiprocess, but am happy to look at evidence to the contrary.

I am interested what features you're missing from Focus though; I used to use Focus and moved to private-tabs-by-default in the preview/beta a while ago. The new Android version is certainly different, but it's much faster, compatible and more stable in my experience. I found it an all-round improvement.
 

dotnon

Posts: 36   +48
Yeah, Waterfox is basically a patch set for Firefox, not even a fork. It's just Firefox with a few things removed that few will miss (like Pocket and sponsored tiles), and few feature decisions reversed. They really don't have the manpower to do anything contrary to the direction that Mozilla wants to take the browser in, so if Mozilla decides to crystallize a decision in the code base, there's not much Waterfox could do.

It seems that NPAPI does live on internally though, which is how Waterfox current is able to support 64-bit NPAPI extensions. So I learned something new today, but the risk of breakage will be even greater than it was when NAPI was the official extension API, as Mozilla will now be treating it as an internal one.

So if you have a specific NPAPI extension you want to use, and trust the developer with your digital life, Waterfox looks like a great option. There are significant security and stability tradeoffs being made here though, so this is a niche project for power-users that have a full grasp of the risks involved, and most people should stick to Firefox. Much of the annoying stuff, like sponsored tiles and pocket, can be controlled in about:config anyway.