In brief: Firefox maker Mozilla Corporation is laying off around 70 employees as the firm waits to earn revenue from new products outside of its browser.
In an internal memo obtained by TechCrunch, Mozilla chairwoman and interim CEO Mitchell Baker wrote: “Our 2019 plan underestimated how long it would take to build and ship new, revenue-generating products. Given that, and all we learned in 2019 about the pace of innovation, we decided to take a more conservative approach to projecting our revenue for 2020. We also agreed to a principle of living within our means, of not spending more than we earn for the foreseeable future.”
The layoffs have affected some senior members of staff, including senior release manager Liz Henry.
Big layoffs at @Mozilla today. Anyone want a badass senior release manager, experienced in F/LOSS? Bay Area/Remote. I'm so proud of my work at Mozilla, shipping Firefox to hundreds of millions of people around the world. https://t.co/WoNGqwmmxk <3— Liz Henry (@lizhenry) 15 January 2020
"We're making a significant investment to fund innovation. In order to do that responsibly, we've also had to make some difficult choices which led to the elimination of roles at Mozilla which we announced internally today," Baker added, in a blog post.
At the end of 2017, the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corp., had around 1,200 employees. The announced layoffs only affect Mozilla Corp., which will reduce its staff to around 1,000 people.
Mozilla still gets most of its money from global browser search partnerships, but its falling popularity has seen revenue decline in recent years, forcing it to look toward other sources.
While Firefox is the second-most-popular browser behind Chrome, the gap is significant, with Google’s browser taking over 67 percent of the market share, while Mozilla’s product is on just 9 percent. The number of Firefox installations has been declining in recent times, too, dropping from around 312 million three years ago to 253 million today.
Some of the new products that Mozilla hopes will generate extra revenue include a Firefox-specific VPN called Firefox Private Network, a password manager called Lockwise, which is available for free right now, and Firefox Monitor, which lets people check if they’ve been part of a data breach (it uses the Have I Been Pwned site). Monitor is also free, but the company could start offering subscriptions.