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What Does Mozilla Firing 25% of its Workforce Tells us About its Future

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Mozilla is in news again but not for good reasons.

Mozilla has suddenly fired around 250 employees, 25% of its workforce. It also closed operations in Taipei, Taiwan. The Taiwanese team was working on Firefox Lite.

This is not the first layoff from Mozilla this year. At the beginning of the year, Mozilla had laid off 70 employees.

So, what’s going on with Mozilla? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not positive.

Mozilla has fired entire (or most of) teams working on DevTools, MDN, developer relation, Servo (browser engine written in Rust) and incident threat management.

Why did it do that? What lies ahead for Mozilla? Here’s my opinion on the Mozilla crisis.

The gradual decline of Mozilla: Ignoring its flagship Firefox browser project

Mozilla Firefox once had a good user base. It was seen as a superior browser and it looked like it would dethrone Internet Explorer as the most popular web browser.

That would have happened if it was not for Google Chrome. The tech giant Google and its ‘thinking ahead’ leadership launched Google Chrome in 2008.

Their aim was to get more and more people to use their search engine. How does a user access search engine? Through a web browser.

So, instead of being dependent on other web browsers, Google created its own browser and integrated its products with this new browser. Google hired several Mozilla engineers to work on its browser. The current Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, led the team developing the Chrome browser.

But Google didn’t just stop after creating Chrome in 2008. Google with all its technical might and intelligence, kept on improving the Chrome browser.

Soon Google Chrome overtook Firefox and later Internet Explorer to become the most popular web browser.

But what happened to Mozilla Firefox? It is my opinion that Mozilla lost focus on the Firefox browser. They put time and energy in creating Firefox mobile OS, Rust programming language, Hello video chat application and more.

It’s not that it didn’t add new features to it, it’s just that Firefox started losing charm.

Chrome had a faster experience while Firefox felt sluggish and heavy. Google’s evil practice of deliberately slowing down Google products like YouTube on Firefox also made users dump Firefox.

Whatever it is. The truth is that Google Chrome is a superior product otherwise people won’t go installing it on their own. Microsoft couldn’t keep Windows users on Internet Explorer/Edge after all.

Google holds Mozilla by its neck and can squeeze it at will

If you didn’t know, Mozilla relies heavily on Google with around 90% of its revenue coming from Google. Google pays Mozilla a few hundred million US dollars each year to be the default search engine on Firefox.

The deal was helpful to Google when Firefox had good user base. With Google Chrome’s advent, Firefox has seen steep decline and it now stands at the third position with hardly 8% of the market share. Google Chrome dominates the market.

Google doesn’t need Firefox’s help to get traffic to its search engine but Mozilla does need Google’s money to stay alive.

A day after the layoffs, Google extended the Firefox search deal with Mozilla. Had Google not renewed its deal with Mozilla, it would have been real difficult for Mozilla to go beyond 2020.

Mozilla’s renewed focus on products that could make it money

Mozilla Foundation is a not-for-profit organization but it also has taxable subsidiary in the form of Mozilla Corporation. Firefox browser is developed under Mozilla Foundation. The profit earned by the Mozilla Corporation is reinvested into Mozilla projects.

Lately, Mozilla is trying hard to create new revenue channels to end its reliance on Google. It’s acquisition of Pocket app and the launch of Mozilla VPN is part of this strategy.

The recent layoffs are also part of Mozilla’s new strategy to focus on profitable products and reducing the workforce aimed at reducing the expense.

But amidst all this, Mozilla must not ignore Firefox. People need a functioning browser and Mozilla should work on improving user experience. If the users have trouble running Netflix or YouTube or using other streaming services in this age, they will definitely switch.

Not only it is the flagship project from Mozilla, it is also the biggest hope for people who don’t want Google. Microsoft’s Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave and most of the other popular browsers have switched to Google’s Chromium project. Firefox is one of the rare browsers that doesn’t rely on Chromium.

I hope that Mozilla rises from the ashes like a Phoenix.

Those were my views on the Mozilla situation. I welcome yours in the comment section.

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