Firefox (Mozilla Corporation/Mozilla Foundation) made $72M last year?!

UPDATE: I know a lot of folks are coming here from DIGG and other memetrackers. The $72M someone told me at BarCampLA and I have no idea if that is true or not. If you reblog this (or report it) please make sure you make that clear.

The best piece of information I got out of BarCampLA was that Firefox, which is produced by the for-profit Mozilla Corporation, made $72M last year and is on target to have 120 employees this year. I have no idea if this is true (anyone?), but it makes sense. I mean, there have to be 72M people using Firefox out there, and making $1 a year seems low to me! Mark Pincus brought this topic up recently.

Mozilla Corporation makes all that money because of the Google Search box on the top right. If you search with that box (which I do all day long) and you click on the Google ads on the results page Firefox gets ~80% of that. They also have Amazon in the search box, and other services that I’m sure kick them back some affiliate fees. Brilliant.

What an amazing business: make a kick-ass browser for $10-15M a year in expense and make $72M (and growing) in revenue. It’s such a good business that the folks at Flock.com are trying to do a similar thing by building a wrapper with value-added services (like bookmarking tools) on top of Firefox.

Did you know that you could take the Firefox code and make your own Browser?! I think I want to make the “Jason Browser,” anyone out there know how to do this? I’m serious, I want to put a wrapper around Firefox with a bunch of Jason-specific services. Hit me on email (jason at calacanis dot com).

For background, the for profit Mozilla.com company is a spinout of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation. From what I’ve read all the profits from the for profit Mozilla flow into the non-profit Mozilla foundation. No idea why they had to create this type of structure but I heard an interview with Mitchell Baker who explained that there is nothing nefarious going on. She says all the IP is still owned by Mozilla Foundation and no one can ever make money off of Mozilla.com (I wonder if the folks who work at Mozilla.com get stock options, or if the company would ever go public?). Frankly, there are so many great people working at/associated with Mozilla so I’m sure it’s all good.

More details on Mozilla at Wikipedia:
Mozilla Foundation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Foundation
Mozilla Corporation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation