Revenue Diversification the Mozilla Way

Denelle Dixon-Thayer

As a Mozillian, I’m proud that each new product discussion begins by asking whether it creates value to our users. It is a part of who we are and is what makes us different. Our initiatives are always aimed at maximizing our mission of making the Web open and accessible. Revenue is an important, but secondary, consideration, because our continued sustainability helps us to stay relevant and innovative.

Last year, some extremely talented and creative Mozillians set out to determine where we could add value and diversify our revenue opportunities. Revenue diversification isn’t a requirement because our search partnerships are strong and provide value to our users, to our partners and to Mozilla. Diversification is a choice for us, but just as diversity is central to a healthy Web, revenue diversity is central to a healthy project.

Diversification in and of itself is not hard as there are many things that other companies and projects do to bring in revenue. However, because we are Mozilla, that isn’t how we approached the question. Instead, we evaluated each potential initiative against three criteria:

  1. Does it put the user at the center and deliver value to them?

  2. Is there alignment with our mission?

  3. Does it generate revenue?

So – diversifying the “Mozilla Way” requires us to carefully consider user value first, and allows us to discard an initiative even if it has the potential of being lucrative if the initiative doesn’t satisfy the first two criteria.  Any of our diversification initiatives must include rigorous attention to “getting it right for the user”, as user satisfaction is fundamental.

Our choice to consider and test the Directory Tiles project is an example of this analysis.  The Directory Tiles project was created in response to the behavior of “frequently visited” tiles when Firefox is first installed – namely, new users see blank tiles on the “new tab” page because they haven’t built up their browser history. Our current vision of the project introduces content (including sponsored content) into the tiles on the “new tab” page. You can find out more here. In keeping with our criteria, as we develop the project we will ask ourselves whether the content resonates with our users and is valuable to them.

The process of seeking new ways to diversify has only further solidified my belief in our Manifesto – we will respect our users, stay on mission, and still generate revenue.  Mitchell also provided context on how we approach this. Mozilla is about the world coming together to build a better Web.  We work on these initiatives in the open, and welcome your feedback as they progress.