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Community is key to our next chapter

I’ve always thought the best way to describe Mozilla’s personality is “extroverted.”

We’re at our best when we’re engaging with a wide community — the builders, activists, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and others around the world who are doing things to push the internet in a better direction.

Mozilla is also at our best when we’re supporting that community. We don’t want to just engage — we want to fuel it, grow it, and help transform it into a powerful global movement. Since our founding, Mozilla’s mission has been to “guard the open nature of the internet,” and that's something we've never imagined doing alone. Our plan — and our core ethos — is to lift up the like-minded people, projects, and organizations around us.

In the early days, this community existed mostly around Firefox, Thunderbird and other open-source projects. With this community, we were able to radically shift the direction of the web — and then internet — toward open standards, competition and choice.

In more recent years, our community has expanded to include a broad collection of people uncovering online harms and blazing a path for a better digital future, many of which we support with grants or fellowships. For example, our Tech and Society Fellows shine a light on online disinformation in Kenya and algorithmic bias in Brazil. Our Creative Media Awardees create films, games, and browser extensions that show the general public how AI systems and data collection affect their lives. And our Responsible Computer Science Challenge funds professors across the U.S. who are integrating ethics into their computer science curricula. When we think of the Mozilla community today, it doesn’t just include open-source developers — it also includes thousands of researchers, artists, and educators like these.

And, it includes almost 4 million people around the world who have decided to join Mozilla’s online campaign efforts to make the internet better. Over the past year, many of these people donated their data to help us study whether YouTube’s user controls protect people from harmful content (spoiler: mostly they don’t). Others donated their time and their voice to help build the world’s most inclusive dataset for training voice AI (think Siri, but in Kinyarwanda and Catalan). And still others co-signed Mozilla’s letter to the U.S. Congress encouraging urgent action on legislation to break up monopolies and promote competition in the tech industry. These people are making a huge impact by showing politicians and companies that people want a better internet — and by actually helping us to build one.

Together, these grantmaking and campaign efforts make up Mozilla’s movement building programs. We dedicate approximately 2% of Firefox revenue (almost $100M over the past five years) to funding these movement building programs, which are in many cases matched by funds from other foundations or the public.

Over the coming years, we plan to expand our community efforts even further, with a strong focus on growing the ecosystem of founders and teams dedicated to building more responsible tech products. As an initial step, we launched Mozilla Ventures in early November. The idea behind Mozilla Ventures is this: create a first-of-its-kind impact venture fund that invests in startups pushing the internet — and the tech industry — in a better direction. We’ve met hundreds of founders who are building companies like this. All of them have shared that one of their biggest challenges is finding investors who align with their values, and who can support them on the journey of building products that not only delight people, but also respect them. We plan to address that challenge, and hope other investors will join us and follow suit.

Mozilla has always been about community. We’ve known — and we know — that even if we create 10 incredibly successful new products and run 100 world changing campaigns, that will not be enough on its own to send the internet in a better direction. We hope that we will be only one amongst thousands of companies successfully building products and imagining a different future alongside us. Helping to grow this community — this movement, this ecosystem — continues to be at the heart of who Mozilla is and what we do as we move into our next chapter.