Mozilla Lays off
Like many, I learned of the lay offs of 250 employees from Mozilla on August 11, 2020. That's about a quarter of the workforce. These layoffs come 8 months after a first round of layoffs in January for another 70 employees.
I am an early adopter of the Firefox browser. I've been using it almost since the beginning. I failed in my mission around version 3.6 by switching to Chromium. It was short because I came back when I switched from Firefox version 4.
Of course when we talk about Mozilla we think of Firefox, but it's actually much more. It's the biggest online documentation of the web with MDN, a dedicated privacy advocate, a strong desire to make the web a safe space.
At least that's how I see Mozilla.
As I read and discussed the layoffs, a fear came over me.
The devtools team is reduced, as well as the MDN writer team, no more WebXR, servo etc. team. The list is not exhaustive but it is what stood out to me the most.
What is the future for Mozilla?
I don't read between the lines, so I can't answer that question. Especially since I don't necessarily understand Mozilla's choices and strategy. Even if sometimes it is necessary to take difficult decisions in order to become smaller and reborn stronger.
Although it's necessary to have a real strategy.
One of the risks would clearly be that Mozilla will do like Opera in 2013 by switching from Presto to Blink, then recently Internet Explorer (Edge) which also made the choice to leave its internal engine EdgeHTML for Blink in December 2018. A monoculture is never good, whatever the domain is. Healthy competition is always better and inspires innovation. Especially when one of the players does not want to make the web a trusted space. I intentionally mix engine, browser and company, but it's done on purpose. Of course this is only extrapolation and exaggeration. I don't think Mozilla will come to this. Although I have read articles in the press claiming the opposite, nothing announces the death of Mozilla. There are still a lot of its employees, very talented engineers at Mozilla.
I've seen a lot of tweets, messages asking how to help Mozilla. For many, donations seem to be the answer. Except that even though it's important (we must continue to give), it's the Mozilla Foundation that receives donations, not the Mozilla corporation. Most employees are on MoCo contracts.
But then what wan we do? I was talking to a friend at Mozilla's the other day. His answer was clear: promote the use of Firefox. If I quote his answer: the main thing at the moment is still the market share of Firefox.
Mozilla's main revenues come from contracts with search engines such as Google. Firefox defaults to Google as a search engine. Google pays for this. The market share is of course important in these contracts.
Mozilla is trying to diversify out of this financial dependence. Pocket, which was acquired in February 2017, has a premium offer. Mozilla has also launched its own VPN. For the moment the service is limited to some countries, but a roadmap is intended to expand this list.
Now you know what to do.