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Mozilla Foundation Reorganization

On August 3rd, 2005, the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit public benefit software development organization, launched a wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. The Mozilla Corporation is a taxable subsidiary that serves the non-profit, public benefit goals of its parent, the Mozilla Foundation, and will be responsible for product development, marketing and distribution of Mozilla products.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

What is the Mozilla Foundation announcing today?
The Mozilla Foundation is creating a new wholly owned taxable subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, to do product development and distribution for Firefox, Thunderbird, and related branded products based on the Mozilla open source code base.
What is the role of the Mozilla Corporation?
The Mozilla Corporation is responsible for productizing and distributing Firefox, Thunderbird, and related branded products built on the Mozilla open source code base. The Mozilla Corporation's mission, shared by that of the Mozilla Foundation, is to promote choice and innovation on the Internet.
Why has the Mozilla Foundation decided to make this change?
The Mozilla Corporation was established to support the Mozilla Foundation's mission to ensure choice and innovation on the Internet by leveraging the economic value of Firefox which has resulted from its growing marketshare. By forming a commercial subsidiary, the revenue-generating activities of the new entity can provide funds to support development, testing, and productization of the various Mozilla open source technologies. This benefits both end-users of Firefox and Thunderbird, and developers and others who want to use the Mozilla open source code in various ways. Having the Mozilla Corporation handle revenue-generating activities associated with these products also allows the Mozilla Foundation to achieve its goals while still itself remaining a tax-exempt organization.

However, the Mozilla Corporation is not a typical commercial entity and will only pursue revenue-generating activities that are consistent with offering end-users with the best experience possible.

How many employees will the Mozilla Corporation have and will they gain financially from the new entity going forward?
The Mozilla Corporation will have approximately 36 employees. The Mozilla Corporation is not a typical commercial entity and will not offer stock options and other traditional ownership interests to its employees.
Where will the Mozilla Corporation be based?
The Mozilla Corporation will be based in Mountain View, California, at the same address as the Mozilla Foundation.
When will the Mozilla Corporation begin operations?
The Mozilla Corporation will begin operations immediately.
What is the management team of the Mozilla Corporation?
Mitchell Baker has become the president of Mozilla Corporation. Brendan Eich, a co-founder and long-time technical leader of the Mozilla project, is now the chief technical officer of the Mozilla Corporation.
The board of directors of the Mozilla Corporation includes Mitchell Baker, Christopher Blizzard, and Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn. Mitchell Baker is president of the Mozilla Corporation.
Who will go to the Mozilla Corporation?
Most of the current employees of the Mozilla Foundation will move to the Mozilla Corporation. A complete list of Mozilla Corporation employees and their respective roles will be maintained on the Mozilla Corporation Web site.
Will the income from the Mozilla Corporation (or a percentage of it) be poured back into the Mozilla Foundation to further its mission?
All income generated by the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation (whether through charitable donations to the Mozilla Foundation or revenue generated by the Mozilla Corporation) will be used to further the goals of the Foundation, whether that income is retained by the Mozilla Foundation or the Mozilla Corporation.
Who made the final decision to make this change?
The Mozilla Foundation board of directors made the decision to establish the Mozilla Corporation.


What is the mission of the Mozilla Foundation going forward?
The mission of the Mozilla Foundation is the same as it always has been, namely to promote choice and innovation on the Internet. This mission is shared by the Mozilla Corporation as well.
What does this mean for Mozilla Foundation employees?
The Mozilla Foundation employees whose primary responsibilities involve developing, testing, and productizing the branded products (Firefox and Thunderbird) and assisting with development of their underlying code (e.g., the Gecko layout engine) will move to the Mozilla Corporation. The Mozilla Foundation retains oversight over the Mozilla open source project, and its employees will be responsible for project governance, promotion of the project, and other activities to ensure the future success of the project as a whole.
Who will remain with the Mozilla Foundation and who will lead it going forward?
The board of the Mozilla Foundation includes Mitch Kapor, Brian Behlendorf, Mitchell Baker, Brendan Eich, and Joichi Ito. Employees of the Mozilla Foundation (as opposed to Mozilla Corporation) include Frank Hecker, director of policy, Gervase Markham, and Zak Greant. A complete list of Mozilla Foundation employees and their respective roles will be maintained on the Mozilla Foundation's Web site in the near future.
What will the Mozilla Foundation's role be in developing or managing code going forward?
The Mozilla Foundation's primary role will be to oversee, direct, and promote the Mozilla open source project. The Mozilla Foundation will not be responsible for developing Mozilla code (although some Foundation employees may do so on a part-time basis), but will leave that to other organizations and individuals participating in Mozilla development, including the Mozilla Corporation.
How many employees does the Mozilla Foundation now have?
The Mozilla Foundation currently has three employees.
Who will lead the Mozilla Corporation and who will lead the Mozilla Foundation, and why?
The Mozilla Corporation will be led by Mitchell Baker. Mitchell Baker has been "Chief Lizard Wrangler" of the Mozilla project for many years, and for the past two years has been president of the Mozilla Foundation. Mitchell is extremely focused on the delivery and adoption of end user products like Mozilla Firefox in order to change the web, and is a natural choice to head the Mozilla Corporation. Technical direction of the project will be determined as it always has: through the collaborative work of contributors, led by Brendan Eich (who will move to the Mozilla Corporation).
Activities of the Mozilla Foundation will be overseen by Frank Hecker. Frank has been involved in the Mozilla project since before its official beginning; he was one of the key Netscape employees contributing to the decision to release the source code for Netscape Communicator, and since then has been a member of staff, the governing body of the Mozilla project. Over the years he has been heavily involved in Mozilla project policy and governance issues, a major focus of the Mozilla Foundation going forward.
How will the Mozilla Corporation interoperate with the Mozilla Foundation? What is the reporting structure?
In terms of overall governance the Mozilla Corporation will have a separate board of directors; members of the Mozilla Corporation's board will be appointed by the Mozilla Foundation board of directors. In terms of day-to-day project-related activities, employees of the Mozilla Corporation will interact with the Mozilla Foundation and other Mozilla project participants through the governance structures established by the Mozilla Foundation, including staff, drivers, modules owners, and so on. (Note that membership in these groups is open to any project participant.)


Will there be multiple versions of Firefox on the market, including one from the Mozilla Foundation and others from the Mozilla Corporation?
The Mozilla Foundation will not distribute its own versions of Firefox and Thunderbird, but will leave that task to the Mozilla Corporation. However others may distribute versions of Firefox and Thunderbird in accordance with the Mozilla trademark policy; they are also free to distribute Mozilla-based products under their own brands.
Will users need to start paying for Firefox?
No. Firefox and Thunderbird will remain as they are today: free (i.e., no charge) products based on open source code.
Will the Mozilla Corporation be an exclusive distributor of Firefox?
No. Others may distribute versions of Firefox and Thunderbird under the same terms currently in effect; see the Mozilla trademark policy for more information.
How will this impact security for Firefox?
Security issues for Firefox and Thunderbird will continue to be handled as they are today: reports of potential Firefox and Thunderbird security vulnerabilities will be handled by the Mozilla security group according to the existing policies, and design and development of new security-related features will be directed by the lead developers for the various functional areas within Firefox and Thunderbird. Both the Mozilla security group and the group of lead developers (module owners") contain individual volunteer contributors and representatives of corporate contributors, as well as representatives from the Mozilla Corporation and (for the security group) the Mozilla Foundation.


What role will the community have in the Mozilla Corporation?
The community will work with the Mozilla Corporation and its employees through the existing governance structures of the Mozilla project, such as staff, in the same manner as the community has worked with the Mozilla Foundation in the past.
What role will the community continue to have in the Mozilla Foundation?
A major priority for the Mozilla Foundation will be to work directly with community members interested in participating in the Mozilla project and influencing its future direction. As part of this process the Mozilla Foundation plans to work with the community to review and formalize the governance structures for the Mozilla project, including the role of staff. Formal governance of the Mozilla Foundation itself will continue to be as it has been in the past, by the Mozilla Foundation board.
How much will the community be able to contribute to Firefox going forward?
The community can contribute to Firefox and Thunderbird exactly as they can today, by contributing code to the Mozilla open source code base underlying Firefox and Thunderbird, helping to test Firefox and Thunderbird builds, reporting and/or fixing Firefox and Thunderbird bugs, promoting the use of Firefox and Thunderbird and so on. Community members can also continue to make tax-deductible donations to the Mozilla Foundation (to the extent allowed by law); such donations will be used to support and promote the Mozilla project and its associated products and technologies.
How does the Mozilla Foundation plan to reward the community for creating and improving upon the product?
The potential rewards for the community remain what they have traditionally been in the Mozilla project and other open source projects: Individual volunteers usually begin their participation in the project as a way to "scratch their own itch," for example by reporting or (in some cases) fixing bugs that affect them, or even developing new Mozilla code or new Firefox or Thunderbird extensions to perform some function important to them. Over time project participants may become professionally involved in Mozilla-related development, for example by working for one of the many corporations sponsoring Mozilla development, or starting their own Mozilla-related businesses. One of our goals in establishing the Mozilla Corporation is to further promote the success of the Mozilla project and the Firefox and Thunderbird products, which then has the effect of strengthening the commercial ecosystem around the project and providing additional opportunities for Mozilla developers.
How does life change for Mozilla developers?
The mechanisms driving the development of the Mozilla code base have not changed. Module owners, drivers, reviewers and super-reviewers all maintain their authority, and existing processes and policies remain in place.

Executive Blogs

  • Mitchell Baker, President, Mozilla Corporation and Board Member, Mozilla Foundation
  • Frank Hecker, Director of Policy, Mozilla Foundation

Board and Advisory Committee Member Blogs


Have a question that's not covered in the FAQ? E-mail us and we'll be updating the FAQ throughout the day. Email