The Truth about Mozilla

Analyzing Mozilla’s 2006 Financials

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 22, 2007

(After returning from vacation, the Lizard realized a few posts were left un-published. Here’s the first.)

The Lizard is in appreciation mode today thanks to Mitchell Baker, who finally released the Mozilla Foundation’s financials for 2006. While I’m sure the timing was purely coincidental (mere hours after my most recent post which briefly requested them), seeing these numbers helped grow an ounce of trust in the Foundation and Mozilla as a whole.

Before we, together, delve into the questions that these newly published documents raise, it’s important to point out the parts where your faithful Lizard was right on.

First, Ms Baker indeed made well over $500,000 in 2006; a total of $567,262 in compensation was paid to Ms Baker. I, for one, do not consider a 2005 salary increase an overstatement. I consider it a salary increase. Who the fuck decided it was an “overstatement” of what Ms Baker made? Seriously folks, what in God Almighty’s name would make anyone call that an overstatement? Likewise, that must have been a pretty fucking huge bonus. Taking out $100,000, she still made over $400,000 in 2006. Is this what Mozilla wastes its money on?

Despite the above, I want to note that the intention of the previous post was not to lay blame or anger on Ms Baker, but to simply outline that she truly, really, honestly has incredible power in the Mozilla world, gets paid well for holding that power, and doesn’t (visibly) do shit to deserve it. The same could be true of anyone else at the helm, but someone else isn’t at the helm. She is.

(Another executive, Brendan Eich, leads the technical side, albeit not without conflict; leadership always has conflict. He also gets paid handsomely for it: some $404,634. Mr Eich, however, is constantly visible. In the fight for ECMAScript 4 [JavaScript 2], in arguments over technical issues regarding Mozilla 2, in general guidance on how to plow forward with Mozilla technology, Mr Eich is everywhere. I can’t say the same for Ms Baker. Is it truly greed that motivates? The Lizard will be damned to know. What exists are only facts, and the assumptions generated belong only to this blog.)

Secondly, the Lizard slightly underestimated Mozilla’s yearly total revenue at $60,000,000. The correct amount, for 2006, was $66,840,850.

And on we go to the questions that have now arisen.

One of the major questions that must be asked is: How much is Mozilla paying in taxes due to the Corporation being a taxable entity? PDF page 6 of the financial statement seems to indicate that $26,777,000 was paid for income taxes. Wouldn’t that money be better off doing the work of the open source world than in the hands of Uncle Sam? The Lizard really dislikes government institutions. The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit. Aren’t there ways around this tax payment? Hasn’t Mozilla ever heard of creative financing? Jiminy Crickets! That’s a lot of wasted money.

A second major question that arises is surrounding the new-to-my-readers-but-not-to-me knowledge that Mozilla’s contract with Google ends in November of 2008 (see PDF page 13 of the financial statement). More importantly, 85% of Mozilla’s revenue comes from that contract. Eighty. Five. Percent. One more time for kicks: Eighty. Five. Percent. If things go sour with Google, Mozilla’s fucked. But of course, young grasshopper, Mozilla will say there are others who will come knocking on the door, such as Yahoo!, Windows Live (née MSN), and Ask. Will Mozilla abandon their principles to make a buck, or will they enter the search engine market themselves? If the reason Mozilla switched from Yahoo! in Asian countries was solely for a better experience for users of Firefox, how could Mozilla use anything other than Google?

Another question appeared out of form 990. While the Lizard is a character of many traits, none of them approach non-profit tax law. Before explaining this all, I’d like to give special thanks to a non-profit accountant who answered my question about PDF page 15 line 26f which states that Mozilla received 33.4513% public support. Perplexed as to why this number mattered, the Lizard got the following. Quoting:

“Non-profts which qualify for 501(c)(3) status fall under two categories: public charity and private foundation. The Mozilla Foundation is a public charity. To maintain their public charity status, they must maintain income of at least 33% from the public (averaged over a five year period). If they don’t, they become a private foundation which has more restrictions on money management. ‘Public’ in the context above refers to individual and corporate donations not investment income. Those donations can’t come from only a few individuals, however, without moving toward private foundation status.”

In case that wasn’t clear enough to some of you morons, Mozilla needs people to give money to it or it loses it’s “public charity” status. The law says so. Let’s analyze that a bit more. Mozilla’s revenue mostly consists of revenue from their Google, nay, search bar. Since that infamous deal was made, what fools would possibly decide to give Mozilla more money? Don’t they get enough as it is? Internally, Mozilla must be working on a way to generate more donations from individual users. If they aren’t, they need to get into gear. Losing their public charity status is the first step down a rocky slope to losing non-profit status.

Finally, the Lizard appreciated that Ms Baker’s aforementioned “overstated” salary received a special note in the FAQ. Word on the street suggests that note is solely due to this blog. Sources can be wrong, but the rumour mill has consistently pointed out that this blog is read internally by many at Mozilla, including Ms Baker herself.

To you all the Lizard writes: You’re not scared yet, are you? You’re all too ignorant and arrogant to be scared. You’re just offended that anyone could disagree with the carefully crafted messages that the public normally gets. You’re all hard at work looking for the leak, pointing fingers all around but not able to make sense of any of it. You won’t find a leak. You won’t find anything like that. Looking will only waste your time and further delay your precious Firefox 3. Good luck getting to 30%!


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