'Restructuring' Mozilla Lays Off 250 Employees, And Shifted Its Focus To Make Money


All companies, no matter how large or small, are impacted by the 'COVID-19' coronavirus in a good way or another.

Mozilla Corporation, is the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation. Being significantly smaller than competitors like Google or Microsoft, Mozilla was already struggling to with finding stable revenue streams.

Like many other tech companies that conduct business on the web and mobile, Mozilla had big plans for 2020, where it was in the process of finding new sources of income to fund the development of Firefox as well as its other projects and products.

For example, it launched its own VPN service as a part of getting money without resorting to competitor Google, where Mozilla receives money so Google Search can be the default search engine on Firefox. Or showing advertising that the open source community largely frowns upon.

That happened before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

And as the crisis hit, Mozilla is impacted by the coronavirus in a bad way.

Experiencing difficulties in coping with the crisis, Mozilla sees that it needs a “significant restructuring”, and started laying off 250 people, or 25% of its workforce. Some 60 people at the company are also reassigned to new positions.

Mozilla's U.S. headquarters at 331 E. Evelyn Avenue, Mountain View, California.
Mozilla's U.S. headquarters at 331 E. Evelyn Avenue, Mountain View, California. (Credit: Wikipedia)

Things are getting even harder for Mozilla the Foundation and the Corporation.

Laying off a quarter of its employees means that it is having lesser man power to do what it needs to do.

For that reason, as part of the restructuring, Mozilla announces a shift in focus and mindset. Here, the company is focusing on creating and developing products that can earn it money, rather than focusing on the development of internal tools and platforms that may not contribute to finding new revenue streams or are even costing it more money than necessary.

For example, Mozilla is making investments in Pocket, Hubs, VPN, Web Assembly, and various security and privacy products. Mozilla created two new teams to focus on design, UX (user experience) and machine-learning.

At the same time, the company is reducing its investment in some areas, such as developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development. Mozilla is also transitioning the adjacent security/privacy products to its New Products and Operations team.
In an internal memo sent to employees, Mozilla said that all operations in Taipei, Taiwan, are being closed.

In a blog post announcing the move, Mitchell Baker as the CEO of the Mozilla Corporation said that:

"Today we announced a significant restructuring of Mozilla Corporation. This will strengthen our ability to build and invest in products and services that will give people alternatives to conventional Big Tech. Sadly, the changes also include a significant reduction in our workforce by approximately 250 people. 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."

While Mozilla is struggling, the company knows that Firefox's survival is important to the long-term future of the web.

Google Chrome is the most popular and the most widely-used web browser by a long margin. Mozilla Firefox only gets a small margin of the market, but considered a significant player for a web browser for PCs.

However, Mozilla could face even bigger financial problems in only a few months’ time if it fails to renew its lucrative search deal with Google.

But in the meantime, before Mozilla can settle with its own source of revenue through its own products, Mozilla is hoping that competitor Google can extend its lucrative search deal.

Mozilla announced back in November 2017 that Google had returned to become the default search engine for Firefox in the U.S. and other worldwide territories. That was a three-year deal which is set to expire this autumn. Failure to secure a new search deal with its biggest rival, before managing to secure reliable source of income, can create an even bigger problem for Mozilla.

This is a matter of consideration since Mozilla Firefox has been overtaken by Microsoft Edge as the second most popular web browser in the world.

Mozilla previously laid off 70 employees in January, and a memo Baker sent at that time started to shed some light on the company's struggles.

“I desperately wish there was some other way to set Mozilla up for long term success in building a better internet,” wrote Bakert. “But to go further, we must be organized to be able to think about a different world.”

In August 13, Mozilla announced that it has extended its search deal with Google, easing the financial concerns at the Firefox browser maker.

“We've recently extended the partnership, and the relationship isn't changing,” said a Mozilla spokesperson to Forbes.