Mozilla: We don't need your stinkin' money
Mozilla says it can do just fine without Google. I'm sure this is right, but is that the point?
That's not quite how Mitchell Baker stated it, but that's the underlying sentiment. Admirably, Mozilla is determined to be an independent entity focused on creating a great browser (and other software). It's not interested in being anyone's sycophant, including its beneficial partner, Google:
"We've spent a lot of time and energy making sure that Google understands that it cannot turn us into an arm of Google," said Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla and chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation. "The things that make Mozilla and Firefox a success [are] the product, and the community that cares about it."
First and foremost, we would protect those things," Baker said. "If the protection of those things would come into conflict with Google, or any of our search partners, we would opt for the community who built Firefox and love Firefox."
If it came down to that choice, Baker was optimistic that Mozilla could do without Google's largess. "There are other ways to make money from a browser," she said. "We could have a more diverse revenue stream. The key is to find business models, or I should say revenue models, that help get things done....Necessity is the mother of invention, and I'm quite confident there are or will be other ways to find revenue that our users are comfortable with."
This is a noble sentiment, and absolutely the right one for Mitchell to take. But I wonder if it misses the point. For Mozilla to be a long-term community asset, it needs to diversify its revenue such that no particular member of its community will have undue influence on its direction.
So, it's not enough to wait until Google (or some other entity) demands an inappropriate concession. Mozilla needs to be figuring out alternatives now. It needs money. Right now it can be choosy about how it makes that money. But at some point it may not be so fortunate. The time, therefore, to come up with its revenue model(s) is now.