Mozilla is laying off 250 people, about a quarter of its workforce, and plans to refocus some teams on projects designed to make money. The company will have roughly 750 employees going forward, a spokesperson confirmed.
The coronavirus pandemic “significantly impacted our revenue,” Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker wrote in a blog post this morning. “As a result, our pre-COVID plan was no longer workable.”
Mozilla’s operations in Taipei will be closed as a result of the layoffs. The company didn’t otherwise say which teams will be impacted. Mozilla previously laid off 70 people in January, blaming the slow rollout of new revenue products, according to TechCrunch.
“I desperately wish there was some other way.”
As part of the layoffs, Baker laid out a series of new focuses for Mozilla to set a stronger course for the company. That includes focuses on building community, building new products that “mitigate harms” and “that people love and want” to use, and crucially, to build out new revenue streams.
Mozilla makes most of its money from companies paying to make their search engine the default in Firefox. This includes deals with Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, and most notably, Google in the US and most of the rest of the world. The company also makes money from royalties, subscriptions, and advertising, but those search deals still represent the “majority” of its revenue.
Baker says Mozilla will initially focus on products such as Pocket, its VPN service, its VR chatroom Hubs, and new “security and privacy” tools. The company started launching paid consumer services over the past year, offering a news subscription and access to a VPN from directly within Firefox.
Firefox is also getting a stronger focus on user growth “through differentiated user experiences.” That means reducing investment in other areas, though, such as in building out developer tools.
Mozilla has had a rough decade, as Firefox’s market share dwindled and attempts at bigger projects — like a Firefox phone running Firefox OS — fell apart. Baker seems to recognize that Mozilla needs to meet people where they are, building products that people want to use on the platforms they’re already using. She became CEO in April and was appointed interim CEO in December 2019; Baker has been the chair of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003.
“I desperately wish there was some other way to set Mozilla up for long term success in building a better internet,” Baker writes in her blog post. “But to go further, we must be organized to be able to think about a different world.”