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Mozilla Rakes in $53M - InternetNews.
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Mozilla Rakes in $53M

Firefox might be free, but that doesn't mean Mozilla is in the poorhouse. Although some speculated on one, higher, figure, Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, said that Mozilla made just under $53 million in 2005.

The 2005 revenue figure is a dramatic jump from previous years for Mozilla. Baker noted that 2004 revenues were only $5.8 million, while 2003 revenues were less than half of that at $2.4 million.

Baker attributed the growth in revenue to the popularity and growth of Mozilla's flagship browser Firefox 1.0, which launched in November 2004. In 2006, Mozilla released Firefox 2.0.

Baker reported that the bulk of Mozilla's 2005 revenue came from search engine relationships. She did not disclose or name the search engine vendor in her official report, though it is widely known that Mozilla has a strategic relationship with Google.

The default start page for Firefox has a Google search dialogue box. The browser also defaults to Google search in its engine option on the search bar within the browser toolbar. Mozilla gets paid a publicly undisclosed amount for each Google search query made from Firefox by a user.

Mozilla is apparently running a very profitable operation, as well, with expenses of only $8.2 million in 2005. Those expenses are combined across both the non-profit Mozilla Foundation and the for profit Mozilla Corp., which was formed in August 2005.

Baker also reported that the revenue stream for Mozilla remains steady. Revenues are being used for a variety of purposes, though Baker emphasized the hiring of developer talent as a key item.

"We're hiring a great set of people, with small teams, where before we had a single person," Baker wrote. "We're still stretched very thin and still looking for great people."

Infrastructure is another key expenditure for Mozilla.

"Our infrastructure continues to be modernized," Baker commented. "We're upgrading the development infrastructure, in particular the "build" machines and infrastructure, which is a far larger job than it sounds. We're upgrading the Web site infrastructure to support easier and more complete localization."

Baker did not detail any risks in her report. That said, Mozilla's principal competitor in the browser space, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), did not issue a major release in 2005 (or 2004 or 2003 for that matter). The company released IE 7 in 2006, re-igniting the browser wars.