The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists to support and provide leadership for the open source Mozilla project. The organization sets the policies that govern development, operate key infrastructure and control trademarks and other intellectual property. It owns two taxable for-profit subsidiaries: the Mozilla Corporation, which employs several Mozilla developers and coordinates releases of the Mozilla Firefox web browser, and Mozilla Messaging, Inc., which primarily develops the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. The Mozilla Foundation is based in Mountain View, California, USA.
The Mozilla Foundation describes itself as "a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving choice and promoting innovation on the Internet". Mozilla Europe, Mozilla Japan and Mozilla China are non-profit organizations whose mission is to help promote and deploy Mozilla products and projects. They are independent of, but affiliated with, the Mozilla Foundation.
When America Online (AOL) (Netscape's parent) drastically scaled back its involvement with Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla Foundation was launched on July 15, 2003 to ensure Mozilla could survive without Netscape. AOL assisted in the initial creation of the Mozilla Foundation, transferring hardware and intellectual property to the organization and employing a three-person team for the first three months of its existence to help with the transition. AOL promised to donate $2 million to the foundation over two years.
On August 3, 2005, the Mozilla Foundation launched a wholly owned subsidiary called the Mozilla Corporation to continue the development and delivery of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird. The Mozilla Corporation takes responsibility for release planning, marketing and a range of distribution-related activities. It also handles relationships with businesses, many of which generate income. Unlike the Mozilla Foundation, the Mozilla Corporation is a taxable entity, which gives it much greater freedom in the revenue and business activities it can pursue.
Initially, the remit of the Mozilla Foundation grew to become much wider than that of mozilla.org, with the organization taking on many tasks that were traditionally left to Netscape and other vendors of Mozilla technology. As part of a wider move to target end-users, the foundation made deals with commercial companies to sell CDs containing Mozilla software and provide telephone support. In both cases, the group chose the same suppliers as Netscape for these services. The Mozilla Foundation also became more assertive over its intellectual property, with policies put in place for the use of Mozilla trademarks and logos. New projects such as marketing were also launched.
With the formation of the Mozilla Corporation, the Mozilla Foundation delegated all their development and business-related activities to the new subsidiary. The Mozilla Foundation now focuses solely on governance and policy issues, though it also continues to oversee the projects that have not been "productized", such as Camino and SeaMonkey. The Mozilla Foundation owns the Mozilla trademarks and other intellectual property, which it licenses to the Mozilla Corporation. It also controls the Mozilla source code repository and decides who is allowed to check code in.
The Mozilla Foundation accepts donations as a source of funding. Along with AOL's initial $2 million donation, Mitch Kapor gave $300,000 to the organization at its launch. The group has tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code, though the Mozilla Corporation subsidiary is taxable.
In 2006 the Mozilla Foundation received $66.8 million in revenues, of which 61.5 million is attributed to "search royalties".
The foundation has an ongoing deal with Google to make Google search the default in the Firefox browser search bar and hence send it search referrals; a Firefox themed Google search site has also been made the default home page of Firefox. A footnote in Mozilla's 2006 financial report states "Mozilla has a contract with a search engine provider for royalties. The contract originally expired in November 2006 but was renewed for two years and expires in November 2008. Approximately 85% of Mozilla’s revenue for 2006 was derived from this contract."; this equates to approximately US$56.8 million.
In 2006 after a request from Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD for funding from corporate entities which make a profit through the use of OpenSSH in their packaged distributions, the Mozilla Foundation donated 10,000 U.S. dollars to de Raadt and OpenBSD for OpenSSH development. The funds donated came from money earned through the income provided by Google. While the target of this request were corporations such as Cisco, IBM, HP, and Red Hat (which all sell operating systems containing OpenSSH but have not donated to its continued development before), the Mozilla Foundation found that without OpenSSH, much of the work developers do would be through unsecure and unsafe methods and thus gave the funds as a thank you.
Originally Christopher Blizzard had a seat on the board but he moved to the Mozilla Corporation Board of Directors when it was established; Joichi Ito joined the Mozilla Foundation board at that time. Bob Lisbonne and Carl Malamud were elected to the board in October 2006.
The foundation also has a number of paid staff members, who focus on project and policy issues:
The Mozilla Corporation also has a number of employees, many of whom worked for the foundation before the establishment of the corporation.
The Mozilla project has traditionally been overseen by a committee known as mozilla.org staff; the individuals on that committee later became foundation or corporation board members or staff members.