Investing in Mozilla’s next chapter
Mozilla was built to create a better internet and put people first. We did not start out as a business, but we built one along the way. For many companies, business means going after money no matter the cost. But at Mozilla, business is seen as a tool instead of an ethos — a tool for engaging with people, providing value to people’s lives, and yes, supporting ourselves to continue shaping a better internet and a better future.
Our unique structure as two organizations and a global community provide us with a distinct advantage in the pursuit of this mission. With the Foundation as the sole owner of the Corporation we can operate the business in a way that aligns its interests with those of the people who use the internet, rather than with profit-driven shareholders.
In 2021, both parts of the organization made significant progress against our mission, setting us up well to accelerate our efforts in 2022 and beyond. We ended the year with strong growth across our revenue generating products and solid balance sheets at both the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation. We brought new products to market that both grew our revenues and served as models for privacy-respecting best practices for other companies. The Foundation continued to aggressively invest in its mission and efforts to rally public engagement in efforts to advance internet health. And we welcomed significant new talent that will help us continue to deliver on our long-term vision, something we measure in decades rather than quarters.
Alongside our financial performance, this report provides an overview of Mozilla’s operations and impact for the same period.
Investing in Mozilla
Overall in the 2021 calendar year, Mozilla Corporation revenue generated $585M from search partnerships, subscriptions and advertising revenue — a 25% growth. While the majority of the Corporation’s revenue continues to be generated from our global browser search partnerships, in 2021 our revenue from new product offerings grew 125% year on year to $57M.
Unlike most tech companies, our aim is not to produce a profit that goes into the pockets of private shareholders. The vast majority of our revenue goes directly into current or future product development and a minimum of 2% of Corporation revenue is dedicated to the Foundation’s movement building programs, investing in the community and mobilizing the public.
In 2021, Mozilla Foundation earned $30.2M in revenue — including $3.6M in donations from the public, $6.3M from grants in addition to $20M in revenue from the Corporation that was reinvested into the Foundation. This past year, Mozilla’s overall assets hit $1.2B, allowing us to be able to invest in new products and innovation, this moment, and the public and future of the internet — both within our walls and outside them.
Investing in new products and features
We believe the internet should be open and accessible to all and advertising is a business model that allows for this. However, the modern online advertising ecosystem is broken and often results in the misuse of data. Mozilla Corporation is uniquely set up to show a better model for the future. We’re integrating data more thoughtfully into product development and showing how quality advertising can be user-respecting without sacrificing privacy or user control.
In the last couple of years we have started this with two new offerings in Firefox’s new tab: sponsored tiles and the Recommended by Pocket section. Together these forms of privacy-respecting ads have grown by 127% to represent 10% of our revenue. Using a mix of editorial curation and signals from users via the stories they save, Pocket surfaces trustworthy articles that help readers fuel their interests while avoiding misinformation. It was a natural fit for us to embed this experience into Firefox new tab, to help readers discover better content faster through a mix of valuable articles and sponsored content.
We know a better internet is one where people can maintain their privacy online. As we looked into new products to invest in, we focused on ways to protect identifiers that we know trackers use — IP addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. We now provide subscription products that can help people protect each of these.
In February 2020 we launched Mozilla VPN, a virtual private network (VPN) that allows users to surf, stream, game, and get work done while protecting their IP address. Our VPN is available to consumers on a month-to-month and annual subscription basis. We followed this with the creation of Firefox Relay Premium in November 2021 focused on email masking and added phone masking in October 2022. Our security products have grown to $4M in annual revenue.
Investing in the movement and the public
Mozilla Foundation continued its mission of growing the movement for internet health through three pillars: agenda setting, movement building and leadership development.
The Foundation invests in research focused on the intersection of the internet and society that serve as a bedrock for everything that we do. Last year, we published the latest edition of our annual Internet Health Report, which combined original reporting and data visualization to investigate bias, labor rights, and transparency online. We published several research reports examining disinformation across popular channels like YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok. We also invested in work highlighting the role African countries will play in shaping the future of the web. In 2021, $790K was spent to support its agenda-setting work.
This research is then put to use in grassroot organizing and public education campaigns to get the message out to as many people as possible and invite millions of internet users to help us hold tech companies accountable. In 2021, we published two editions of *privacy not included, our privacy-centric buyers guide and catalyzed thousands of people around the world to donate their voices to our open source common voice dataset. In 2021, $5.4M was spent to support this movement-building work.
The Foundation leverages fellowships and awards to support people and projects around the world who are standing up for internet health. A small sampling of this from last year includes funding data scientists in Kenya, activists in Brazil, and open-source developers in the United States. Our Data Futures Lab funded bright ideas rethinking data stewardship and our responsible computer science challenge continued to support educators integrating ethics into computer science. In 2021, $10.4M was spent to support this leadership development work.
We’re investing for the next quarter century, not the next quarter
As we come up on our 25th anniversary, in January 2023, we are thinking about where we want to see the internet in the next 25 years. We’re investing in the future — which starts with investing in people — both our own team and the community of startups and founders that share a similar vision for the future of the internet.
Our team has grown by 197 people across the Foundation and Corporation in the last two years and the Corporation saw the creation of a new steering committee. This expanded team — which includes people from both the biggest tech companies and people with a deep history working in social movements — represents a major financial investment by both organizations. Also, it is backed by a very intentional talent strategy designed to help us build an organization that is both successful in the market and effective at building movements.
Mozilla is uniquely suited for this moment and not only have we stepped up to the challenge but our future ambitions are big. As our business grows, we don’t just rise, but we invite and invest in others to rise with us — we know there are many seeking a better internet who do not have the resources or privilege of massive volunteer time that we have. The relationship between the business of the Corporation and its shareholder, the Foundation, allows us to center our customers and the public benefit before profit. Through this commitment we believe we all profit.