The Mozilla Foundation has announced that 250 staffers, or a quarter of its workforce, are to be made redundant due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker confirmed the bad news in a blog post, in which she said that “over the last while, it has been clear that Mozilla is not structured properly to create these new things…” for a better internet.

This is the latest change at Mozilla, after it revealed in January 2020 that its email operation was moving, with the Thunderbird project transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary called MZLA Technologies Corporation.

Job losses

But seven months later it is clear the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has forced Mozilla to continue undertaking changes.

“Today we announced a significant restructuring of Mozilla Corporation,” wrote Baker. “This will strengthen our ability to build and invest in products and services that will give people alternatives to conventional Big Tech. Sadly, the changes also include a significant reduction in our workforce by approximately 250 people.”

“To each of them, I extend my heartfelt thanks and deepest regrets that we have come to this point,” she added. “This is a humbling recognition of the realities we face, and what is needed to overcome them.”

Baker said that before the pandemic, the organisation was already planning “a great deal of change”, but the “economic conditions resulting from the global pandemic have significantly impacted our revenue.”

“As a result, our pre-Covid plan was no longer workable,” she wrote. “I desperately wish there was some other way to set Mozilla up for long term success in building a better internet.”

“So going forward we will be smaller,” Baker wrote. “We’ll also be organising ourselves very differently, acting more quickly and nimbly. We’ll experiment more. We’ll adjust more quickly. We’ll join with allies outside of our organisation more often and more effectively.”

In an internal memo to staff, Baker also revealed that Mozilla was closing its current operations in Taipei, Taiwan.

Funding sources

According to the Register, Mozilla gets the vast majority of its funding from Google, Yandex, and Baidu, which pay Mozilla to be the default search engine in Firefox in their regions.

The publication also pointed out that those deals will expire in November this year unless renewed or renegotiated.

Going forward, it seems that Mozilla will be exploring alternative funding sources, including the deployment of paid-for services.

Last year for example Mozilla began offering businesses that run the open source browser a premium support plan, which includes options such as capabilities to submit bugs privately and get critical security bug fixes.

The firm has also begun offering VPN services for a fee.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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