Mozilla’s layoffs are bad news for a more competitive browser war

Its business model looks shaky as bigger players grow.

August 13, 2020

The browser race is a 2-horse sprint, with Google Chrome and Apple Safari controlling more than 80% of the market.

For many, Mozilla’s Firefox — with its heavy emphasis on data privacy — is a middle finger to Big Tech’s dominance. But with ~4% share of the market, the idea of a real competition is only a facade.

And the facade might be cracking. Mozilla announced this week that it was laying off 250 employees, or about a quarter of its staff. 

Your model needs work 

Tech writer Byrne Hobart points out: “The most valuable browsers in the world are free products owned by companies that monetize something else.”

That’s not how Mozilla works. According to the Mozilla Foundation’s 2018 annual report, Mozilla made 91% of its revenue ($451m) from directly monetizing its browser. 

Mozilla is paid by companies such as Google (in the US) and Baidu (in China) to be the default search engine for the browser. 

In a world where Chrome’s market share is growing, Mozilla’s business looks shaky. 

And it might not have great options

Mozilla laid off 70 employees at the start of the year due to the “slow rollout of… new revenue-generating products.” 

Its other offerings include the web reader Pocket, a VPN, and a password manager.

The New York Times’ Robin Berjon says the writing is on the wall

At this rate, the likelihood of a 3rd horse entering this race is miniscule.

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