back to article Kick Google all you like, Mozilla tells US government, so long as we keep getting our Google-bucks

Mozilla has responded to news of the US government’s antitrust lawsuit against Google by saying it welcomes it … provided it doesn’t get hurt. Mozilla has weighed in on two fronts, firstly as an organisation that likes an open web. “Like millions of everyday internet users, we share concerns about how Big Tech’s growing power …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Strangely when my PC updated Firefox to 82.0 this week it changed my default search engine to become Yahoo, not Google. And I had to change it back to Startpage. That could just a Linux Mint issue though I haven't booted into my Windows 10 partition to see what happens there.

    1. jsa

      I believe that is indeed a Linux Mint tweak; they have a sponsorship agreement with Yahoo or something like that.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        I am surprised Yahoo still exists

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Yahoo search is basically rebranded Bing plus unspecified ‘enhancements’.

          I use Duck-Duck-Go.

  2. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

    I was wondering how this would affect Mozilla and what their position would be. We now have the answer.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      I have to wonder what would happen if someone(s) who are NOT bent on forcing the world into 2D FLATTY McFLATSO web interfaces (i.e. Mozilla since "Australis") were to supply the 90% of revenue Mozilla appears to 'need'... when all they REALLY needed to do in the FIRST place was maintain a working browser that, uh, worked. And NOT "feature creep". Like "Australis". And it drives another question, would they make Mozilla look like it did BEFORE Australis if the hand that feeds them (or teet that nourishes them) WANTS it?

      I can't think of a good analogy for this, other than feeding pigeons. What happens when the bird lover stops coming?

  3. Dinanziame Silver badge

    Note that Mozilla switched the default to Yahoo in 2014. Then they switched back to Google in 2017, amid lawsuits between Mozilla and Yahoo reported on this excellent website. One particular detail is interesting:

    Also of interest is a section explaining that when Mozilla went to market for a search partner in 2014, it considered Yahoo! a very risky proposition and sought special protections in its contract.

    This seems to imply that Mozilla does not only use Google because it's paying well, but also because they consider it more reliable.

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I know modern web browsers are very complex beasts, but does it really cost $400m a year to employ the necessary staff to develop Firefox?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Well, they've got to pay someone to remove all those features.

    2. Smooth Newt Silver badge

      It does if your overheads include enough lawyers to require the post of Chief Legal Officer.

    3. rg287 Silver badge

      I know modern web browsers are very complex beasts, but does it really cost $400m a year to employ the necessary staff to develop Firefox?

      Of course not, in the same way that it doesn't actually cost millions of pounds to broadcast someone's advert in the break of Corrie. £400m is what the market will bear. In a private business the surplus would be profit. At Mozilla it bankrolls their other projects (and some overly generous c-suite salaries).

    4. juice Silver badge

      You do have to wonder.

      According to an arbitrary websearch, the average US software developer salary is about $100k. Even if we just as arbitrarily double that to $200k, and assume that this is the average cost-to-employ for everyone who works for Mozilla, that comes out at 2000 employees.

      Interestingly, if you look at Mozilla's website, they claim to have offices around the world, with a catchall "remote" for homeworkers. Said locations are all Europe and North America (USA/Canada); India and China are perhaps notable for their absence...

      https://careers.mozilla.org/#locations

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Location:

        Interesting. And those locations seem to be in expensive "world class" cities, and with office locations in what look like fairly expensive districts, too.

        I was going to ask: what do they do with all that expensive office space (apart from burn through other people's (OK, Google's) money?

        Looking just at London, it actually seems like they do use it at least sometimes (but what proportion of the time?) to host some fairly worthwhile activities in tune with the general Mozilla internet 'mission', but, still, is this value for money?

        There are plenty of other cities in the countries of the UK (yes, we are more than just London, England) where many internet/coder groups/projects could probably also really benefit from help from a like-minded friendly benefactor.

        Would it not perhaps make more sense to sponsor room/space bookings all around the UK (and similarly in other countries too, of course) rather than just have one flashy expensive office in one city which is already over-privileged and already has too much of a share of centralising virtuous circledom (we're back to silicon roundabouts again, aren't we…)?

        1. heyrick Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Location:

          "is this value for money?"

          Yeah, guys, how about you invest a tiny fraction of that cash in not fucking up the browser time and time again?

          I don't want Firefox to be like Chrome. If I wanted to use Chrome, I'd use Chrome. I don't, so I'm using Firefox. So stop fucking breaking it.

          1. RobThBay

            Re: Location:

            I'm using the ESR version of FireFox. It gets all the security with none of extra "features".

        2. juice Silver badge

          Re: Location:

          > Would it not perhaps make more sense to sponsor room/space bookings all around the UK (and similarly in other countries too, of course) rather than just have one flashy expensive office in one city which is already over-privileged and already has too much of a share of centralising virtuous circledom (we're back to silicon roundabouts again, aren't we…)?

          Blimey. So, looking at that link, they have an office in SE1 (central London, just south of the river and roughly equidistant from The Shard and El Reg's favorite landmark, the Oxo tower - about half a mile each way, to give some idea of the distance and local property values.

          And with that, they offer "charitable" use of a conference room with space for up to 40 people.

          I suspect that they could shift their offices to outer London (or even north of Watford Gap!) and make a substantial saving - more than enough, in fact, to fund the on-demand hiring of central-London conference facilities for charitable use.

          At a glance, and to widly round things down, office space in central London is roughly double the cost of the equivalent space in Manchester or Birmingham, which is again roughly double the cost in smaller cities such as Sheffield or Liverpool.

          http://eddisons.com/manchester-has-the-highest-office-rent-costs-outside-of-london/

          Call it £60 vs £30 vs £15.

          And a 40-people conference room should be around 1000 sq ft.

          https://www.meetings.com/Meeting-Room-Capacity-Calculator

          Which means it's probably costing them around £60k per year to run that room; if they shifted to Liverpool, it'd only cost around £15k and they'd have around £45k more cash to spend on other things.

          Like, say, occasional jollies down to London for charitable conferences...

  5. manchesterj

    Reality

    I guess that means really that Mozilla is 'owned' by Google. It could certainly be construed that way from a financial point of view.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "I guess that means really that Mozilla is 'owned' by Google"

      Almost everything on and related to the web is effectively owned by Google, Amazon or Facebook now. They're the gateways, brokers and service providers to almost all content, so nobody can argue with them. This is the monopoly of monopolies and it's unlikely there's any way back.

      Money doesn't shout - it screams.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I guess that means really that Mozilla is 'owned' by Google"

        You forgot Cloudflare.

      2. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: "I guess that means really that Mozilla is 'owned' by Google"

        And they give Stinky rich Apple $12Bill/Year so they do not develop their own search engine.

  6. codejunky Silver badge

    Erm

    "Indeed, Mozilla only survives by helping to sustain Google."

    How awful. a business is reliant on the existence and success of another business. Which funny enough is the norm. Unless you are peasant farming then yes a successful business helps others exist and thrive, especially hobby projects (which may grow to be successful in their own right).

    I like firefox, I prefer it (even though I do think it used to be better before trying to be chrome like). I like Google. I prefer it. Other people have their preferences. Those will rely on the successful as well.

    1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Erm

      How awful. a business is reliant on the existence and success of another business. Which funny enough is the norm.

      When your business is dependent on a single client, you are one decision away from disaster.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        @Smooth Newt

        "When your business is dependent on a single client, you are one decision away from disaster."

        Awesome. So when do we cull governments? UK and US have plenty business entirely dependent on the single client.

        1. Aleph0

          Re: Erm

          In the case of governments, there are usually avenues to appeal such decisions (unless you're deemed a national security risk). In the case of private entities like Google, if they decide to stop doing business with you for any reason, you're SOL.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Erm

            @Aleph0

            The government is a monopoly. Avenues of appeal against the ultimate monopoly is pretty much based on the grace of the government. As you say one excuse is national security.

            "In the case of private entities like Google, if they decide to stop doing business with you for any reason, you're SOL."

            Same with the gov. Except private business innovates and provides the lovely goodies. How much free stuff has Google kicked out? How much has been provided thanks to their success? No just from them but the whole economy advancing on the back of success?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Erm

              Yeah yeah, get rid of government, get rid of checks and balances, let the capitalist free market sort everything out, and we'll all positively thrive in the anarchy.

              You've already successfully ruined the UK by taking us out of the EU. I presume you'll never be happy until we are living in some "Mad Max" / "Running Man" / "Robocop" / Biff controlled "Back to the Future" dystopia, where uncontrolled capitalism runs amok?

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Erm

                @AC

                "Yeah yeah, get rid of government, get rid of checks and balances, let the capitalist free market sort everything out, and we'll all positively thrive in the anarchy."

                Interesting. So you think private business which only exists on government work is necessary for checks and balances? I dont recall saying get rid of government. That is you.

                "You've already successfully ruined the UK by taking us out of the EU."

                You are welcome. So far saved billions by getting us out of the Covid bailout and it was obviously a good thing not to have joined the Euro project back when not joining it would cause the UK ruin (still makes me laugh). This project having the great potential to be as successful(ly bad).

                "I presume you'll never be happy until we are living in some "Mad Max" / "Running Man" / "Robocop" / Biff controlled "Back to the Future" dystopia, where uncontrolled capitalism runs amok?"

                Ahh the classics. I am guessing you want us all to have joy joy feelings, wearing kimono and looking like a couch under a totalitarian paradise (demolition man)

        2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Erm

          Awesome. So when do we cull governments? UK and US have plenty business entirely dependent on the single client.

          Why "cull governments" - it is nothing to do with the problem. If you have only one customer - whoever it is - then you are a single decision away from zero customers.

          I'm not sure that "the Government" is necessarily a single client anyway, since purchasing decisions are delegated to individual ministries and bodies. If your business has a contract with the Department for Education, another with HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and a third with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, is that really one client? I suppose the money might all dry up at the same time, but at least they do make separate purchasing decisions.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Erm

            @Smooth Newt

            "Why "cull governments" - it is nothing to do with the problem."

            Having the government as the sole provider is the same problem. So stripping back government so as not to have business reliant on just them.

            "I'm not sure that "the Government" is necessarily a single client anyway, since purchasing decisions are delegated to individual ministries and bodies."

            The various things that should be either the state or independent public bodies. Not private relying on the sole provider. The decisions may be delegated to public bodies but if the complaint is private business relying on a monopoly power then the gov gets cut first.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Donations to Mozilla

    I have donated to Mozilla (and to what is now the separated Thunderbird) in the past, and I would be happy to do so again, if only they spent the money on the important stuff: making their browser better, instead of far too liberally spaffing it on fairly pointless side projects and far too inflated salaries for the suits (instead of better renumerating, or taking on more, techies).

    I don't mind (and quite appreciate) Mozilla's "open internet" stance in general, but so much of their online 'campaigning' stuff is, frankly, pish, and reeks not only of pish, but of the sort of pish generated by squandering it all on overpriced wines in order to be seen to be spending money, instead of drinking just as good better value wine instead.

    They really really really need to focus properly on what should be their core priorities, and then, fuck me, they might just find they need to be far less reliant on Google, and could have a more balanced income stream where donations, and service provision, support them in a much more healthy way.

    Mozilla seem to like to pick odd sea creature codenames: if they're not careful, they might find the name best applied to them will be Anglerfish, of the male variety…

  8. The obvious
    Holmes

    It's almost as if...

    google had a massive monopoly in search so Mozilla couldn't get any meaningful amounts of cash from other companies.

    Guess I'm living up to the name again...

  9. IGotOut Silver badge

    Putting two and two together

    Google renews contract with Mozilla.

    Mozilla rushes out the appalling Andriod monstrosity that is "New Firefox" that oddly removed all but one adblockers, removed people bookmarks from home page and changed default search back to google (let's ignore all the other problems with it)

    So if this is the shit $400 million buys you, may be losing it wouldn't be so bad.

    Firefox, you were once good.

    Reg...any chance of finding out why Mozilla rolled out the heap of crap?

  10. Blackjack Silver badge

    If Mozilla dies...

    So will Icecat and I use the Windows version of that since is the only one that gets regular updates.

    I also use Seamonkey.. that basically has no extensions that work with it save for ublock origin legacy.

    1. NATTtrash Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: If Mozilla dies...

      I agree. Although I do feel rambling fits of "Why? Do tell me WHY?" coming on if you try to "slim down" search.json.mozlz4 and FF just ignores your edits/ prefs by restoring their version of "Don't hurt yourself, don't think what's best for you, we will do that for you", we do have to, like you said, realise that their (open) platform is the base for many other things. And not just browsers. Or TBird. Many academics would be very sad indeed if for example Zotero would head for the exit. And thus be condemned to contraptions like Mendeley... Of just another fine, non-profit, fresh faced, for-the-good-of-mankind organisation.

  11. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Small and independent?

    Mozilla may be small when compared with Google, but with an annual income of that size it can't be considered a small company. As for independent, if 90% of their funding comes from Google then they can't be considered independent.

    Of and innovative? Really? Can't think a single significant innovation they have made.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021