Mozilla

Revenue and Motives

March 25th, 2008

John has a post today about how some people impute revenue motives to everything we do. In his case John made a statement about how one of Apple’s business practices is bad for the overall security and health of the Internet. (In this case the practice is to encourage consumers to download and install new software by identifying it as an “update” to software the person already has on his or her machine.)

Some of the reactions address the actual issue. But there’s also a set of responses along the lines of: ‘All Lilly really cares about is using Firefox to make money from Google, and all this talk of what’s good for the Internet is just a smokescreen for protecting the revenue stream from Google.’ (This is not an actual quote, it’s my description of a set of responses.) I’m coming to wonder if any statement or action we take that is controversial or based on mission with get this response. I’ve had this experience myself when discussing a number of topics.

Periodically I’ll be in a discussion about Mozilla’s plans for something and people respond by saying “Oh, that’s because Google cares about [fill in the blank] and your revenue comes from Google.” On several occasions I’ve been utterly dumb-founded and speechless because I have never even thought of Google in relation to the discussion. (I’d give some examples but I am concerned that we’ll end up rehashing old issues. )

But much of the world is driven by money and all sorts of people say they have different or additional motivations. So suspicion may be warranted. At Mozilla we can only do what John notes — keep pursuing the mission, keep demonstrating by our actions that our mission is the critical piece, and being authentic.

A separate problem is that a focus on money makes it easy to miss other, important topics. In this case the question is: what happens if consumers stop accepting security upgrades because they don’t trust the other software that comes along with it? That’s a disaster for all of us. That’s the question John is raising and it’s an important question to consider. Those commentators who dismiss this topic because Mozilla competes with commercial offerings and generates revenue miss this point. If the commentators you turn to dismiss everything for this reason, then I’ll hope you’ll add some additional commentators to your resource list.

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