Firefox – A $50+ Million Cash Cow

Mozilla Foundation chairman Mitchell Baker on Tuesday disclosed how much money Mozilla made from their Firefox web browser in 2005: $52.9 million.

Figures were not disclosed for 2006 but Baker did say the foundation’s 2003 revenue was $2.4 million and 2004 revenue was $5.8 million. You can take a guess at 2006 revenue and project 2007 revenue based on that.

Now the obvious question; How does Firefox make money?


You see that little Google search box on the upper right? If you use that box to make a search and click on one of the Google ads from the results page, Firefox gets an estimated 80% of the money. In addition to the search box, Mozilla also makes money from searches made on the Firefox start page.

The Google search box adds value and income to Firefox and that is the key to making big money on the Net. Users of Firefox don’t see the Google search box as advertising. Instead they see is as a value added service and they don’t mind that Mozilla makes money from the sponsored links. Most of them don’t even know Firefox makes money from it. I’m sure if they find out it made over $50 million in 2005, they will be shocked.

Firefox is a great example on how Open Source software can be profitable. The search revenue generated by the browser has allowed the non-profit Mozilla Foundation to continue to expand. The foundation started with just 10 employees, but now has teams of people where it once had a few.

Based on the growth of the Firefox browser (57% of visitors to this blog use Firefox), I would not be shocked to see 2006 revenue at over $100 million. That would definitely rank Firefox among Google’s biggest publishers.