Mozilla banks serious cash by generating serious community

Foundation and corporation lead the way in showing how to build a successful open-source project--with the revenue figures to prove it.

Wow. It's ironic how much money can be made by giving something away. Not ad-supported. Not crippleware with a proprietary "upgrade." Just giving it away.

That's the lesson from Mozilla's latest numbers (PDF), as reported by Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's president.

Mozilla's revenues (including both Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corp.) for 2006 were $66,840,850, up approximately 26 percent from 2005 revenue of $52,906,602. As in 2005 the vast majority of this revenue is associated with the search functionality in Mozilla Firefox, and the majority of that is from Google. The Firefox userbase and search revenue have both increased from 2005. Search revenue increased at a lesser rate than Firefox usage growth as the rate of payment declines with volume. Other revenue sources were the Mozilla Store, public support and interest and other income on our assets.

Mozilla expenses for 2006 were $19,776,193.

Not sure about you, but to me those numbers look pretty darn good. And in case you thought the momentum was slipping, consider the following:

In late 2006 we served close to 600,000 Firefox downloads, over 2.1 terabytes of data and 25 million update requests--per day--making Mozilla one of the top 100 sites on the Web. In addition, 2006 saw a vast increase in capacity and infrastructure reliability for all essential Mozilla services including the launch of a European data center, cutting server response time by 50 percent or more for much for Europe.

Twenty-five million updates per day. Clearly these are active users of the browser, and a great "customer" base to sell into, should Mozilla decide to find a non-evil way to capitalize on all this use.

It's not just about users of the software. Mozilla has an incredible developer force, too:

Mozilla is a gigantic open-source project and still growing. Tens of thousands of people are involved in the Mozilla project. Over 1,000 people contributed code to Firefox 2. Mozilla employed around 50 of those people. In 2006, approximately 10,000 people downloaded nightly builds every day; this number continues to grow. Sixteen thousand people reported bugs or potential issues in our bug-tracking system; something like a thousand comments a day were added to the issue-tracker. Our new, more precise distributed testing system gained approximately 2,000 participants in the first months after its deployment. Tens of thousands of people test our beta and security releases before we offer them to the general public. The Spread Firefox referral program had over 65,000 participants displaying Mozilla or Firefox content (buttons, etc.) on their We bsites. Uncounted numbers of people participate through promoting Mozilla and helping others learn about Mozilla.

Microsoft may talk about "wow," but Mozilla is delivering it. Mozilla is one of the most interesting open-source projects ever conceived, partly because of the technology, but mostly because of its organization. Mozilla works because of its module-by-module parceling out of code ownership, as I've reported before. It shows how to be a massive project without becoming monolithic.

Great results, Mitchell and the Mozilla team/community. You deserve the success.


Via Glyn Moody

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Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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