Mozilla Goes For-Profit with Subsidiary

The Mozilla Foundation announced Wednesday the formation of a for-profit subsidiary that will take over development of Firefox and Thunderbird. The Mozilla Corporation will better enable the organization to generate revenue and build a successful business around the browser platform.

The majority of the Mozilla Foundation's employees will migrate to the new corporation, which will be headed by current president Mitchell Baker. But despite its change to commercial status, Baker insists not much else will change; development will continue as planned and Firefox will remain free.

"The Mozilla Corporation is legally a taxable, or in general terms, a "for-profit" entity. However, it is not a typical commercial entity," Baker said.

"Its purpose is not to generate a return on investment in the financial sense. It is not an investment vehicle or an IPO candidate. It is completely owned by the Mozilla Foundation to promote an open Internet, where consumers have choice and innovation thrives."

With Firefox approaching 10 percent market share and opening the eyes of consumers around the globe, Mitchell said new opportunities arose that a non-profit was simply not prepared to handle.

"Non-profit law is reasonably well understood for traditional non-profit organizations like museums, universities and the traditional style of charities. But organizations like the Mozilla Foundation, which develops and distributes consumer software, are new in the non-profit world and the application of nonprofit laws to their activities is a developing area," Baker explained. "We've found that this uncertainty makes responding to Mozilla Firefox's success very complex."

Security fixes and distribution will remain the same, according to a detailed FAQ on the reorganization. Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird will continue to be open source.

"From where I'm sitting, not much is changing," wrote Mozilla developer Asa Dotzler. "I'm still working with all the same people and towards all the same goals. We've got a new structure that should make it somewhat easier for us to do what we've been doing - taking Firefox (and Thunderbird) to the masses."

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