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Firefox usage is down despite Mozilla's top exec pay going up (calpaterson.com)
1624 points by todsacerdoti 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1286 comments

> Mobile browsing numbers are bleak: Firefox barely exists on phones, with a market share of less than half a percent. This is baffling given that mobile Firefox has a rare feature for a mobile browser: it's able to install extensions and so can block ads.

This is true, and indeed very strange. I use FF on mobile and it works perfectly. So Mozilla's problems aren't only technical, there's also a question of market awareness.

That said, there are also technical problems. Some bugs on the desktop linger on for years and are never fixed.

As described in the article, Mozilla spent a lot of energy into side projects that never went anywhere and were only loosely related to the browser.

This is all, obviously, a management problem.

> I use FF on mobile and it works perfectly.

Not anymore!

To be consistent with their business screw ups, they addressed this with the latest updates. Now the mobile app a mess like the rest of Mozilla.

This, I have been a long time FF on Android user, mostly due to the ability to run add-ons (ublock etc). Latest update complete botched it. Couple of hnags/restarts every day, jittery UI, unintuitive button placement (e.g. new tab)...

I want to use Firefox (or any decent browser not based on chrome), for several reasons, but this way it gets harder and harder to justify to myself.

What alternatives do we have for non-chromium browsers that have a healthy plugin ecosystem?

>What alternatives do we have for non-chromium browsers that have a healthy plugin ecosystem?

The obvious answer is: none. It always was Chrome or Firefox, everything else was so niche that 'healthy plugin ecosystem' is out of reach. And this very likely won't change for the better, pretty much everyone I know ditched Firefox in favor of chrome by now. We all want to love firefox, but at this point, staying invested seems like a waste of energy.

You're not wrong, but I also feel it's important we do something (anything) other than give up and use Chrome. Rock & hard place.

The situation is weird. I want to give them some money but there is absolutely no way to support firefox development.

A long time ago firefox(program) started asking for donations. I've donated 5$(I was a poor student in Poland[1]). After the donation, I found out that money will not be used for FF development (why firefox page did not mention that?). Long story short it was my last donation to them.

[1] Now I'm not a student ;)

A lot of users struggle with this. Mozilla needs to diversify it's revenue stream, but the options available to them are only tangentially related to Firefox. Basically, (1) the VPN service they are spinning up and (2) Pocket. I opted to pay monthly fees for the full version of Pocket. But what I really want is to pay a monthly fee to support development of Firefox core + extensions.

It's way too early to tell, but it seems like in the long run of history, they could plausibly become most well-known for creating Rust, and mostly forgotten for everything else they've done. Based on adoption trends from huge organizations and projects, we might very well see Rust (or a "Rust++" type analog) powering a lot of key software in 20 or 30 years from now, and who knows, maybe even a lot longer than that. (Maybe a lot shorter, too, but I'm just thinking about hypotheticals.)

I know it's probably not practical to monetize an open source programming language, and they don't centrally manage it, but that seems to be their big differentiator and contribution to the software world as of 2020, as far as I can tell. They were pioneering back when they were driving a lot of the evolution of browsers and web APIs, and providing a way less awful alternative to IE, but by 2020 Google's basically upstaged them in all those areas, and I don't see that trend ever reversing at this point. But Rust might live on in a big or huge way, possibly even long past their solvency as an organization.

So I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say with this post, and I don't know how it could help them financially, but maybe leaning into Rust or other similar very ambitious attempts at fundamentally shifting the software ecosystem could let them remain if not successful, at least relevant and acclaimed. Maybe Servo could've been one of those, but it seems like vaporware at this point (besides the parts Firefox cannibalized, like Stylo).

Mozilla could create a fundraiser were you vote on features with your money. That could work relatively well, I think.

"Nobody pays for a browser", they say. Well, they might pay to see some features in!

Well, I just found out that Midori has an Android port [1]. It runs quite well! Though I'll probably go on using fennec for the foreseable future.

[1] https://www.f-droid.org/en/packages/org.midorinext.android/

The latest Android Firefox update also disabled several of the addons I was using, as apparently they are now incompatible until the addon developers do some extra work to fix whatever backward incompatibility Mozilla introduced with the latest version.

I had the same issue - I think it was dark reader that stopped working.

New FF also feels significantly slower. Can't really put my finger on anything specific but it is no longer fluid.

Even Edge is now chromium based, I think it's a lost battle.

I've noticed the opposite. New FF flies for me on the websites I use, such as HN and Stack Overflow. What sites is it slow for you?

Note also that many of the redesigned plugins will be slower than their older, mature counterparts. Give the plugin authors some time to optimize their plugins, and try to cull the amount of plugins you currently use. I've using only Adblock Plus, Tree Style Tab, and Tridactyl.

It's faster to me once loaded. What sucks for me is that I switch between apps constantly. When I reopen firefox, it takes about 20 or 30 seconds for the app to load.

What phone do you have? This certainly isn't expected and we'd really like to get to the bottom of it. Any chance you could file an issue on github?

Sorry, I can't risk this account getting associated with my real name.

It's a Nokia 6.1. I've got a lot of apps running, so my guess is that memory exhaustion is causing the app to completely close when switching away. The whole app and previous page then needs to be reloaded when I reopen the app. I think it's the previous page reloading is causing the biggest part of the delay.

What's annoying is that even if I try to switch to another site, it still waits for the previous page to load. I'd like to easily cancel the reload so that I can go to a separate page quickly.

Looks like this may have already been fixed with an update. Thank you so much!! This app is a godsend.

It still works fine on iOS, but that's probably because underneath every browser is Safari. People complain about Apple's draconian choices, but the end result is mostly good for consumers. If people don't like it, there's Android and Tizen.

I'm confused, how is that a good outcome, being limited to re-skinning Safari?

If anything is being “reskinned” it is Webkit, the rendering engine, not Safari the browser. Webkit is by far superior choice on anything macOS/iOS related because of performance and energy use.

Try the very latest release (81). I wrote earlier[0] that FF79 was too slow to start, buggy on tab switches, and missing most recent sites on the new tab. That's all been fixed as of FF81 as far as I can see.

I also really like the new swipe-url-to-switch-tabs feature =D

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24280554

The last update seems to have added yet another unnecessary click to access a pinned site (whatever it's called).

It used to be "click on the url bar -> click big site preview", now it's "click on the tab counter -> click the plus icon -> click to dismiss some overlay -> click small site icon".

Thanks Mozilla, I hate it.

Yeah, it's not great. But you can get to "new tab" by longpressing the tab counter thingy. Yep, I noticed it by accident.

Ha, not bad, it puts the action where you finger is already on the screen and it removes on step (the url/search overlay).

Thanks !

Same think with sharing button, also added a significant delay to the sharing menu for good measure.

Then try it on a tablet, and go "What is this BS?" and start using Chrome, despite the fact that there is no NoScript, about:config, etc.

Oh wait, no, just NoScript, because about:config doesn't work in Firefox for Android anymore.

About:config works just fine on my Android phone with Firefox 81.1.1-beta5. What seems to be the problem?

about:config was not working on my Android phone, 80.1.3. Ran the latest update to 81.1.1, still not working. Guess it might be in the next release?

It is only enabled on Nightly and Beta.

Why is that? about:config is something I use all the time.

Because huge chunks of are broken in the new browser engine, and could leave your browser in an unrecoverable state.

(I work on GeckoView at Mozilla.)

about:config prefs are not "broken," but many of them work much differently in GeckoView than they work in desktop.

Setting some prefs to the wrong value could completely disconnect Gecko from the embedding app.

I guess we just have different definitions of what "broken" means, since disconnecting Gecko sounds fairly broken to me. :)

Just updated and you are correct, 81 feels much snappier!

Yes, the latest update is rather horrible. Regular things take way more taps than before, some useful capabilities are gone (like NOT asking to save passwords in incognito mode!). I hope they are listening to feedback. I stalwartly use it still, but miss the previous version very much.

I don't see this, how is it a mess exactly?

On the parent issue, Firefox on mobile is great because of the same reason Firefox on Desktop is great. Power over your browser. Which is important since browser exploits are using Javascript to compromise phones.

Of course regular people don't know this and will probably never care. But it's the reason Firefox probably won't die. Because the people who know tech know its strength and will want to use it.

It's shameful for a CEO to get a 400% pay increase, regardless of any other circumstances. But it matters less to me because I'm sure Firefox will always attract enthusiasts who care about their online security.

> Of course regular people don't know this and will probably never care.

except if firefox wills it, they could have an advertising campaign to show regular people that firefox can block ads (the irony!), and is a much better browser experience when paired with all the plugins!

But of course, this threatens the tenuous relationship with google, their major source of revenue. Google keeps firefox alive on a shoestring budget to stop the anti-trust happenings that microsoft went through with Internet Explorer.

So the status quo fits just fine for these parties, and the web browser competition gets worse over time.

Some important features such as about:config access has been neutered in the latest firefox mobile. The ability to fully customize the browser is an important feature for the enthusiast folks you mentioned, so by removing access to about:config they effectively alienate their most important and vocal users.

I have to agree with you, and it makes me sad every day. The entire UX is down the drain for me. Even something that always worked like a charm - URL address bar completion - is now broken. I used to type a 'g' and boom it would suggest Github Participating Notifications as first in line. No longer.. now I consistently see other sites, some of which I only visited once. Now part of browsing is dilligent URL address bar data-entry.

I can't even figure out which is the correct one to install. Google's Play store has at least 4 versions:

* Firefox Browser

* Firefox Focus

* Firefox for Android Beta

* Firefox Nightly

Can anybody tell me what I'm supposed to install?

First one is the main browser.

Second is Firefox where all the privacy settings are on and the browser keeps no history.

Other two are for people looking to test new features.

I have it updated and works flawless

This was not a useful comment. How is it a mess? What changed?

Something I just noticed (in addition to the complaints of other users which I also share):

Javascript bookmarklets no longer work.

Personally, I use Firefox on PC and would love to use it on my phone.

Literally the only reason I use Chrome instead is because of the flow ui tab switching. I just can't stand the Firefox mobile UI for tab switching. I with there was an extension or something to change it. It's a huge shame.

Same for me!

I have been dying to switch but tab management and switching is so jarring in FF vs Chrome (on Android).

Not only that, but scrolling is also buggy because it keeps accelerating. Insufferable while online shopping, because I like to scroll-stop-scroll-stop-scroll and FF just speeds up the scrolling if the stops are too short.

The UI received a big update a few weeks ago, maybe it is to your liking now?

Still not as good. With chrome flow tab ui I can rapidly scroll through full width page previews, and I can initiate this by swiping from the top down. In Firefox the tab previews are so small as to be almost useless, and I have to press a button.

What's wrong with it?

With chrome flow tab ui I can rapidly scroll through full width page previews, and I can initiate this by swiping from the top down. In Firefox the tab previews are so small as to be almost useless, and I have to press a button.

I don't know if the usage is high enough to make a dent, but Brave seems like a better alternative on mobile: all the quality of Chrome without the downsides.

To expand on the quality point: I used Firefox a long time past most of my laymen friends had switched to Chrome, despite it being painfully slower, and I spent years giving it trial periods on a regular basis. But the quality gap was just too reliable and persistent, with it always being slower, jankier, and less featureful (from a product perspective, I still can't believe how many years it took for them to get per-tab processes). When I've tried it recently on mobile, it's seemed quite a bit slower, and

Combined with a decline in confidence in their ability to be an effective organization that started with Eich's ouster and has only gotten worse over time, it's difficult for me to see why most users would choose mobile FF over Brave. The only advantage i can see is extensions, but it's my impression that most users don't much care to use them.

Is there a unique value proposition to use Firefox on iOS, since due to Apple policy, they can't have addons?

Even Firefox Focus' content blocker works on Safari and not the main Firefox app

Firefox Focus also wipes itself frequently, which means that you can't be tracked across sites as easily. I look forward to updating to iOS 14 so I can set FFF as my default browser.

My typical workflow is: (1) search for something in FFF, (2) if it's something I want to stay alive so I can read later, I share it to FF, (3) if it's something that I need to be logged in for, I share it to Safari, where I'm logged into various sites.

It is annoying that I have to manually open FFF each time, instead of being able to use Siri to trigger a search or the systemwide search. Hopefully both of these search options will use my default browser in iOS 14.

The only reason to use it on iOS is to synchronize your profile with Firefox Sync.

It’s better than Safari and it’s not Chrome. Brave is similar and has ad blocking, but I didn’t like it as much.

In late 2018 we rebased desktop Brave from Electron to a chromium front end fork, so if you tried Brave earlier than then, I hope you'll give it another try. Thanks.

Not only are problems on desktop that linger for years they change stuff on a whim on mobile and when the users complain about it on Twitter they tell you to shut up and are not very nice about it at all don't want to hear your opinion

One thing I don't understand is how Firefox doesn't have a VR browser in Windows, but it has one on Oculus.

There was one for Windows that was Servo-based. But both the Android and Windows projects were shut down by the layoffs.

Only partly true - you can install adblocker for safari on iOS and block ads just fine.

I’m surprised that I had to scroll to the bottom of this thread to find a greyed our comment saying this...

Adblock with safari on iOS works great

Executive running Government firms often have no reasons to compete with the evolving market. Sometimes it is incompetence, other times its malice.

I don't know what it is for sure but seems like its malice. No one knows what deals they are making with the devil under table.

Wait that's not true is it? On iOS, Safari supports content blocker since like iOS 9, and on Android, not only you can get browser ad blocks, you can get OS-wide ad blocks through local VPN blockers.

iOS content blockers pale in comparison to uBlock Origin. I use Firefox + uBlock on my Macs and wish I could do so on iPad and iPhone too.

Firefox mobile has an awkward UI and weak rendering engine.


"Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's top executive, was paid $2.4m in 2018, [..]. Payments to Baker have more than doubled in the last five years."

and this at the same time:

"Mozilla recently announced that they would be dismissing 250 people."

It's shameful. Specially for a "non profit".

You could save a lot of jobs by cutting into the CEOs salary, jobs of people who actually do something productive.

If the numbers in these threads are correct (CEO compensation at $2.5m/year, 250 employees laid off) then the entirety of executive compensation would only cover $10k/year of each laid off worker's compensation.

Add in a couple of VP's and the gap will lessen.

The point is not so much that the CEO's pay directly matches the salaries of the sacked employees, more that the CEO is clearly focused on their personal goals, rather than the organisational goals.

CEO's who reduce their salary in order to keep more staff on in lean times are servants of their organisation. CEO's who sack staff to save money so they can increase their own salary see the organisation as their servant.

It's not a crime to be greedy, but being greedy is a clear signal of your values and goals.

They couldn't keep on all the developers they fired, but they could keep some of them. On top of that, the optics of the situation aren't good for the company brand. Increasing executive pay while firing productive workers, particularly at a non-profit, seems generally frowned upon.

I rather have 20 good developers and 1 500k CEO than a 2.5m CEO and 0 developers.

I wouldn’t mind a $10k raise :)

How many jobs? I agree they are overpaid, but that salary covers maybe 10% of those job cuts.

That's quite a lot, though!

Sure - 20-40 jobs are absolutely valuable. The bigger point is that the indignation towards this CEO is a bit of a strawman, since it's easier to be angry at a greedy CEO than accept the idea that Mozilla may not be viable.

Mozilla Inc is not a non-profit. The parent organization is.

How is it possible that non-profitness does not inherit to a child company? Seems like a conflict of interest.

I'm from Spain, so my knowledge may not be translatable, but I will give it a crack.

A business that is set up as a "non-profit" means that it can't pay dividends. If the business earns one million dollars, I can't profit from it. This does not mean there aren't people in the organization with salaries. Sometimes big salaries.

You can have a "for-profit" company owned by a "non-profit" one. The dividends paid by the "for-profit" go to the "non-profit" but those can only be reinvested. In a way, yes, "non-profitness" is inherited.

I guess that the "for-profit" organization provides legal benefits. If one of your child companies goes bankrupt, it shouldn't affect the other ones nor the parent company. I have a few more guesses but I am not confident enough to write about them, especially when I am not from the US.

As far as I know (not a lawyer or CPA) the US non-profits are absolutely the same, your description is accurate.

It’s the converse that is not possible. A non-profit could reasonably have an investment arm that tries to maximize return on endowment (or likewise a for-profit subsidiary, by analogy) and various projects which are funded from the generated surplus.

A for-profit entity owning/operating a non-profit entity would be more difficult to justify without calling on other goals.

Non-profits can have business activities that support their non-profit mission, and many of those business activities are subject to income tax.

So many non-profits split out the profit-making activities into a separate (for-profit) company so that they can keep non-profit financial streams separate from the for-profit ones.

And why should anyone contribute to an open source project of a for-profit company without being compensated?

non-profitness does not mean no pay. Just that the payment is moderate and not profit-orientated.

I mean contributing as an outsider. I really have a problem contributing to open source projects of a company where I get the feeling that the upper management is simply filling its pockets.

Compensation takes many forms.


It's not reasonable. The whole thread is stupid.

Non-profit just means that the company cannot make / pay out profit. It can still pay its employees a lot of money. It can still own for-profit corporate entities, take their profit, and spend it on other (non-money-making) causes.

the context is "for-profit" ... if a company is for-profit and somebody is contributing for free then that is a very personal choice - but there are more obvious reasons for not doing so.

It's not for-profit. The whole organisation is non-profit. It's being funded by contributions, as well as profits from a subsidiary.

The fact that one of the subsidiaries is structured as a for-profit is a red herring. Just a legal structure. The whole organisation is non-profit.

The IRS would disagree with this.

Mozilla Foundation has a staff of 80 and "manages" about 1000 volunteers. It's unclear how much donations it gets as they published a consolidated report that includes the corporation. I expect that very little.

Mozilla Corporation has a staff of 750 and $400M revenue (I expect most from the Google search deal).



If a CEO can justify such a salary then it is very much for-profit ... your argument is just a play with words.

No, the problem is that people don't understand what non-profit means. It has nothing to do with the internal structure of the company, employee salary (CEO is also an employee) etc. It has to do with external structure, i.e. ownership and distribution of profits (which there cannot be any).

Mozilla CEO's salary isn't even that big, in the large scheme of things.


I agree, though, that non-profit shouldn't automatically be conflated with beneficial or working for the common good, as is common.

What is the acceptable salary for the CEO of a non-profit?

You do know that any donation to Mozilla goes to the for-profit side projects and not Firefox, the browser, right?

To me there seems there is something fundamentally wrong with the way Mozilla is set up.

If you donate to the Mozilla Foundation, then by law that donation can only be used toward the non-profit activities of the Foundation. It cannot go toward Mozilla Corporation activities.

I’m not arguing the law, I’m arguing that Firefox should be a beneficiary of those donations. There is currently no way for anyone to donate to Mozilla for Firefox development, even though that is the main product that people derive value from.

To me, it seems like Mozilla Corporation should not have existed, and everything should have been part of the non-profit foundation.

IIRC if you write what something's for on a check in the memo/for line, it legally has to be used for that purpose for nonprofits, but I can't find a source and I doubt something like that would be a high-priority thing to audit for the IRS.

Donations go to the Mozilla Foundation, which largely does advocacy. The CEO works for the Mozilla Corporation, which makes far more money than the donations.

I think it's a one-dimensional view, assuming that there is no compensation. For starters, most of us work for for-profit companies and use open source to do our jobs.

It's shameful period, non-profit or for-profit. But - don't hate the player, hate the game.

Our entire system has been setup like this for decades. 99% of earnings have been going to the top 1% for decades now.

I understand people who don't want to get behind BLM - I might not agree with them, but I "get" them.

But the fact that the country looked at Occupy Wallstreet and collectively shrugged its shoulders and said "I don't see a problem here" - well, here we are - slowly building back a feudal society while blaming the poorest amongst us for our troubles.

That argument is senseless: the organization is nonprofit, the workers are definitely not, nor should they be.

Not sure what you are trying to say here.

We have an organization where, at the same time they don't have revenue enough for keeping its workers, the decision makers increase their salary. Never mind the legal structure of the organization, that doesn't look to me very ethical.

At the same time, non-profits are suppose to have the mission of improving the world. I understand that the janitor doesn't care about the mission and just want to be payed, but the management should care, at least, about the optics. I, for sure, would not donate (1) to a non-profit if I think that my money is going to be used for buying Ferrari or houses in the Hamptons.

(1) - https://donate.mozilla.org/en-US/


The rest of this thread that is not rehashing the Eich thing is exactly an uproar about an indefensible salary.

There's a quote from the CEO saying that they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid.

And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

Firefox has a problem. It gets most of its revenue from Google. They need a different revenue stream but their ideas haven't worked.

Their executives are clearly failures. But with such high pay, they're cashing out. Buying themselves mansions etc.

Isn't that pretty much admitting that they're on a sinking ship?

The claim was not that they can't reduce but that an 80% discount was too much to ask of people (and thus also their families). I don't think anyone at any pay level would be happy being paid 20% of similar roles. Perhaps the problem was putting people in these roles in the first place that would accept 20% of market rate. Raising their pay subsequently doesn't make them better at their job!

The quote is not really crazy:

"Executive compensation is a general topic -- are execs, esp CEOs paid too much? I'm of the camp that thinks the different between exec comp and other comp is high. So then i think, OK what should mozilla do about it? My answer is that we try to mitigate this, but we won't solve this general social problem on our own. Here's what I mean by mitigate: we ask our executives to accept a discount from the market-based pay they could get elsewhere. But we don't ask for an 75-80% discount. I use that number because a few years ago when the then-ceo had our compensation structure examined, I learned that my pay was about an 80% discount to market. Meaning that competitive roles elsewhere were paying about 5 times as much. That's too big a discount to ask people and their families to commit to."


Perhaps they should find someone skilled who is willing to take that 80% discount from market.

Baker has clearly not been worth her increased salary; I don't even think she's worth the original 20%-of-market salary, given how Firefox's market share has dropped precipitously, and Mozilla has been forced to lay off staff.

Sure, you're probably not going to get a 100%-of-market-rate CEO for a 20%-of-market-rate salary, for CEOs who only care about compensation. But I think that's ok, especially given that some CEOs aren't even worth 20%. And you're much more likely to get someone who actually cares about the mission.

Has firefox's marketshare dropped precipitously since Baker became CEO, or has it just continued a steady decline?

I took a major financial hit to be a CEO, and as a CEO I feel personally responsible for the company's success. My compensation is primarily in ownership and stock - I would never take a massive pay raise if my company were failing, let alone repeated massive raises over years of company downturn.

And then to wipe out a massive portion of your employee base? I find it abhorrent, personally.

> My compensation is primarily in ownership and stock

This would be impossible for Mozilla's structure

I'm certainly curious as to why, they have a board and shareholders, no? Regardless, it changes little about my point. I'm not saying a CEO shouldn't earn a nice salary, but to repeatedly take raises during a downturn, a downturn so severe you had to completely gut projects, is gross.

The Mozilla Foundation is the sole shareholder of the Mozilla Corporation.

Thanks for that.

> . I don't think anyone at any pay level would be happy being paid 20% of similar roles.

First, an 80% discount would still leave the CEO on a very comfortable salary. They're not going to have to dumpster-dive for dinner.

Second, what about doing the job on principle? Plenty of people volunteer their time to good causes for no money whatsoever.

Problem is that the CEO isn't worth the discount rate never mind being worth the raise.

I use that number because a few years ago when the then-ceo had our compensation structure examined, I learned that my pay was about an 80% discount to market. Meaning that competitive roles elsewhere were paying about 5 times as much.


Exactly. The right thing to do here if that bothers you, isn't to hollow out Mozilla, it's to go and take one of those other jobs that you believe you can get.

When I make this argument to tech companies in Vancouver (where typically compensation is an 80% discount from right across the border in Seattle), the response is usually that I can move if I want to.

Couldn't she just have gone and become CEO at a different company if she wanted to make more, like the rest of us do?

How hard will it be to find a replacement who will be willing to make 80% less?

If nobody else will, I'll humbly accept the role.

> And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

This kind of bullshit infuriates me to no end.

I can cite much much more people there if they want to discuss fairness, they better forget and act this line of argument never existed!

I believe they should justify the value they create in this high paid positions compared to all other people making and disseminating the product. There is no justification for this level.

There are lots and lots of families there living on a less fair level of salary but produce much more value (and no damages).

How can you even spend around 2.5 million A YEAR (okay, before taxes, whatever) if you're not BURNING the cash?

I don't get it.

The point isn't to spend it, the point is to make so much money that investments self replicate. At that point, they can stop worrying about money forever and just live off the interest.

Then, you have trust funds for your children so that none of them ever have to work. And when you die, your children will inherit the fortune, so they can do the same for their children, ad infinitum. And if they want a "job" you can start a nonprofit that they can run, so they can be known as successful administrators while you are recognized as a selfless philanthropist who gave away so much money.

I guess it would be hard on their families because they would move off the fast track of multi-generational absolute financial security.

It's called lifestyle creep.

You go from a $1 million dollar home, to a $10 million dollar home.

Instead of one $50k car, you now own 2-3 $150k cars.

Tens of thousands of dollars will go towards your kids education, every single year.

You hire people to do work for you (tutors, nannies, maids, whatever), these cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Maybe you buy some vacation property - that's more money to spend.

And, in the end, you're not some kind of high-rolling baller that jet sets around the world in a private jet or yacht, spending fortunes on vanity.

You're really "just" living the very upper-middle class life.

Let's says it's the half after taxes: 1.25M. Spending 3424 a day for 365 days should get you there. You have to realize it's our fault to not understand these poor people.

Breaking it down on daily expenses really helps me understand how bad their situation is. Thanks for that!

(I don't even make that much in a month (after taxes)).

You take loan for a mansion that can suck such an income dry. Or two, or 5. Add some luxury lifestyle (cars, clothing, vacations, gadgets, expensive restaurants) and you are losing money.

That excludes purely burning cash ie on drugs/alcohol, hookers or living in super-high rental place.

How do you live in two or 5 mansions at the same time? Questions over questions... But yeah, I don't make enough money to understand those problems.

> Let's says it's the half after taxes

If you make that much money, you're not paying more than 25% taxes. Or you are not using the right lawyers.

Is there any easy way to use those tax evasion schemes as a private preson with a lower income, too?

I wasn't even talking about tax evasion. Just that rich people can often reorganize their income to be capital gains, for which the tax is just 15%.

I don't think this is controversial. Warren Buffett talked about how he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. There is also the famous curve of tax vs income group: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/06/opinion/incom...

Tax evasion is illegal. What these people do is not (but maybe morally questionable?). Please don't go to an accountant asking to help you in "tax evasion schemes" :)

Seems like nobody really cares about tax evasion, though. But maybe only if you're big enough... ;-)

I also think I still have some legal headroom for optimizing my tax return forms. Maybe I'll have to try an accountant next year.

No tax lawyer but the principle this works on, as I understand it, is having a lot of deductible costs to lower your taxable salary. It works for anyone, just the degree to which you have to invent expenses differs.

I'll read more into that. Should be able to find some things.

There's lots of info about this online but it really depends on your country. For me, things like my commute to work, expenses for my home office (even though I worked in an actual office until corona), and other things can be deducted. The most ironic category is expenses necessary to file taxes.

Most countries also seem to have savings plans where you put money away until retirement and pay taxes only when you're allowed to take it out, after retirement age (after retirement, you have a lower income, so pay a lower tax rate). Of course, you still pay those taxes (wouldn't be a certainty of life, now, would it?), but they're lower.

You don't spend $60 to fix a faucet, you spend $100K to redo the bathroom.

Especially since the leadership is just plain bad. Mozilla did develop in the complete wrong direction in my opinion.

It's the organisational equivalent to tech debt.

A clear problem, should address it, but probably won't. And will make up some phoney reason to justify it.

Don't get infuriated at someone for something they were mis-quoted at saying. See the original statement here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24565071

“That's too big a discount to ask people and their families to commit to.“

Doesn’t seem to be much of a misquote. Poor Mitchell Baker. She’ll just have to suffer with her non-discounted salary.

I'm not defending her argument or agreeing with it, I just think that the rest of the quote adds important context. Quoting that last sentence alone almost makes it seem like the bad excuse a child would make. Her actual point is that asking executives to take an 80% pay cut to go work at Mozilla is going to make it difficult to attract talented people, not that lowering the current compensation would cause the current executive team's families to suffer.

Again, I don't agree with that since clearly the higher salaries are not attracting any talented executives either.

Given that she is barely even worth the lower, 80%-discounted salary, I don't find that a compelling argument.

I would much rather a lower-salary, less-experienced CEO who actually cares about the mission enough to accept that salary, than someone who has presided over an erosion of Firefox's market share and significant layoffs, while still increasing her own salary. Clearly the system is not working by paying their CEO a market rate.

Seriously. The only reason they can say that is because they're in charge of the company and get to make decisions. How fair have Mozilla's layoffs been on the families of the laid-off workers? I bet not all that fair.

really makes me want to commit more time to the class war.

Well, rip mozilla

> There's a quote from the CEO saying that they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid. And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

Yes I read that too, I couldn't believe it.

She can decide to work for a non-profit, work for the good of the Internet and its users. Accept to earn 500k, which put her well in the top 5% earners and let her and her family live a comfortable life even in Silicon Valley.

Or she can go work as an exec for Google/Apple/Facebook, accept that she's just working for a group of people against others, and be aware she'll be actively doing harm to people's privacy and freedom, but rake in a multi-million dollar salary every year.

I'm sure there are plenty of skilled and talented people who would be happy to work as an exec for Mozilla for the meager salary of 500k.

I agree to me it seems like they're admitting that the ship is sinking. The CEO is over 60yo, unlikely to take on another gig after this. The simplest explanation is often the correct one, she's lost her way and needs a nice cushion before retirement. Greed is s very human thing.

Mozilla, the ship, does not need to sink. That is the heart of the problem. It appears the ship is being scuttled.

The Mozilla execs could all make more money at FAANG companies just down the road from Mozilla HQ. If they left, it would probably be pretty hard to replace them with anyone capable of saving Firefox who would settle for less.

The same is true for most of the engineers at Mozilla. They could go to FAANGs and increase their compensation quite a bit.

So while I agree that the leadership has been bad, executive pay was not the problem. Executive decision-making was the problem. Hiring leaders who could make better decisions certainly won't be any cheaper.

> If they left, it would probably be pretty hard to replace them with anyone capable of saving Firefox who would settle for less.

Its an open source project people believe in. Reduce the pay and you are probably actually more likely to cut out the worst execs and focus only on smart people who want to contribute.

Open source projects are full of smart people who want to contribute and are still often organisational clusterfucks. Unfortunately being smart and passionate alone doesn’t necessarily make you an effective leader.

True, but why is leadership at such an economic premium to development? It's not like the CEO writes a pile of code for 40 hours a week and then puts in another 30 hours on top doing all the corporate administration. It's an necessary but distinct job that complements the technical one but isn't so superior to it.

Yes, indeed a good CEO has offers from elsewhere. But...why isn't the business and governance open-sourced like the codebase?

At the most basic level leadership is at a premium because there are fewer truly good leaders than there are developers.

Now, is every well paid CEO a truly good leader? No. But I’d argue it’s a lot more difficult to assess a good leader than a good developer. There’s a lot more people management, marketing and other soft skills involved. Not to mention the time scales for success are much larger.

I'd say it's actually easy to evaluate a leader, at least one with experience under their belt. You look at the performance of their organization. If they're a CEO, it's especially trivial: you look at the performance of the entire company. If they're a VP or Director of a smaller section of the org, you can still measure that section's performance, though it does get a little muddier.

At a decent-sized org it is nearly impossible to measure an individual developer's impact with any granularity.

I think this should also illustrate that evaluating a leader and evaluating a developer are two entirely different things that can't be directly compared anyway.

> You look at the performance of their organization.

But over what timescale? For startups especially it is not easy to evaluate a job that involves long term planning in the short term.

The thing is, it benefits the people in professional management roles to promote this point of view and institutionalize practices like outside hires in order to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. They don't need to conspire about this (in the Adam Smith sense), just echo the notion of corporate management as such a distinct skillset that it needs to be sought out rather than grown and that will eventually come to have its own moat effect.

Eventually you get CEOs making statements that amount to 'I deliver 10x or 20x more value to this company than you, all my CEO peers say so.'

> The Mozilla execs could all make more money at FAANG companies just down the road from Mozilla HQ.

I mean, really? After their record of poor performance at Mozilla?

> Hiring leaders who could make better decisions certainly won't be any cheaper.

It's been blindly obvious for years what they should do, but let's state it again: (1) Build up a fund instead of throwing away the money, so they can be financially independent. (2) Concentrate on the browser and users.

It’s that many executives do? Leave on a golden parachute to go destroy another company?

Fortunately, Mozilla has been doing #1 for years, as they mention in their public financial statements.

#2 is a matter of opinion in a couple ways. Work on the browser for the betterment of users has never stopped. Intent has always been there, but we can debate quality of plan and execution.

Worth mentioning is how hard it is to rate performance given lack of counterfactuals. Is there even any golden path of success in all of the solution space? All we know is that what was tried hasn't worked.

Nothing will kill morale as much as executive pay going up while your colleagues are being given their pink slips. That is an executive decision making problem but it directly impacts morale.

> it would probably be pretty hard to replace them with anyone capable of saving Firefox who would settle for less.

That's just baseless assumptions. And considering that this "saving" did not work out so far, it seems they are not even worth the money at all.

On another side, for the money of one of this managers, you could probably get a dozen or more semi-competent people who are more eager to make money and save the project.

> it would probably be pretty hard to replace them with anyone capable of saving Firefox

If this counts as "saving Firefox" I'm not sure I want to know the alternative.

I think you highlighted another problem. Why Mozilla HQ is located in such an expensive place? There are plenty of cheaper places in the world (even US...).

> The Mozilla execs could all make more money at FAANG companies just down the road from Mozilla HQ.

So let them.

> The same is true for most of the engineers at Mozilla. They could go to FAANGs and increase their compensation quite a bit.

So let them.

To both your assertions, I highly doubt it. Maybe 1 or 2, but for the vast majority, no.

Firefox engineers do literally the same jobs as their counterparts at Google. Indeed, most of my ex-colleagues and ex-execs have gone to Google, Facebook, and Apple. (in roughly that order) It's no secret that they appreciate the increased compensation, too!

> The same is true for most of the engineers at Mozilla. They could go to FAANGs and increase their compensation quite a bit.

What % of engineers at Mozilla are in SV and other places where Mozilla competes with FAANG? I thought quite a lot of the employees were remote all over the world.


Why are you so sure that a) Eich would do the job for less, or that b) he'd be able to single-handedly defeat Google on a budget.

Just because someone opposes gay marriage for religious reasons doesn't make them a superhero or saint. Is Brave browser doing better than Firefox with his miraculous help?

Seems like the people angry about this political issue are one key factor in us heading towards an internet monoculture.

> Why are you so sure that a) Eich would do the job for less, or that b) he'd be able to single-handedly defeat Google on a budget.

a) Eich publicly called out Mozilla's current CEO compensation. b) well the current CEO isn't doing that either.

> Just because someone opposes gay marriage for religious reasons doesn't make them a superhero or saint. Is Brave browser doing better than Firefox with his miraculous help?

Exactly, it had nothing to do with anything but people who wanted Eich's head. The same people that are now sinking Mozilla because they have no vision for the company, just virtue signalling.

Firefox lost market the whole time period during which I started Brave and led the team that grew it from 0 to ~20M MAU. Something worked. Of course it couldn't have had anything to do with me :-/.

>There's a quote from the CEO saying that they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid. And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families. Firefox has a problem.

Yes. The exec team and CEO.

They should be ousted.

"Unfair to their families"? What BS, what about the families of the laid-off?

That chart shows a pretty beautiful 10 year trend. Yep, they are on a sinking ship.

'Failures' on the other hand - that is a loaded word. They are failures, they have failed at making Firefox popular. But what needed to happen to build an alternative world where they succeeded? The browsers that succeeded were Chrome and Safari - browsers sponsored by the owners of the two major platforms for accessing the internet, backed by billions of dollars of corporatyness.

What is Firefox meant to do? Charities aren't innovation engines. Back in the day when they were making progress on market share, the options were Firefox or IE6. The strategy of the Chrome web team is slightly different than the IE6 web team. I'm sour about Firefox wiping out their value proposition when they canned the good extensions - but that happened circa 2017 so it isn't the problem for adoption. They need something radical to be relevant and that isn't a fair ask of a nonprofit.

Operating systems are basically a commodity. Browsers? Doubly so. I don't care who's in charge of Mozilla - if your "product" is your browser, you better hope your "customers" feel charitable. "If everyone donated $2.99.." and etc.

Maybe you just can't run a successful business in the browser space in 2020. It was already plenty difficult in the mid-90's, wasn't it?

No, they succeeded at making it impopular. FireFox was popular they had a shot at cementing market dominance. The were more popular than Chrome and MS's product combined.

But now they are a fringe browser, that already has problems keeping up with the developments on the web.

Note that for Google they are only a fig-leaf in their upcoming anti-trust case. Note that Google pulled a lot of underhanded tricks to get people to switch to Chrome and paying FF may have been just enough to keep Mozilla quiet about this. If it had been a for-profit situation and with a different source of revenues for Mozilla then there is a fair chance Mozilla would have made a case for anti-competitive behavior by Google.

So that money may have acted to Google's benefit in more than just one way.

> Charities aren't innovation engines

The unique selling point of Firefox (and especially: mobile Firefox) was ability to heavily customize it and use third party extensions.

Those extensions were the ones bringing in the innovation -> most ideas came from third parties (on a side note: usually for free, since extensions are hard to monetize). The system just worked and gave many popular extensions like Tab Mix Plus, Ad-Block, Noscript... through basic customization extensions like Classic Theme Restorer (have you ever setup new browser for a grandmother who does not need 50 options everywhere when you right click? can you even do this now in new Firefox? or the new extension model does not allow it) through countless small extensions that changed users' workflows how they wanted. This ecosystem is all gone.

Developers inside of Firefox completely ignored it - they killed the old extension system because they didn't like it, while they did not provide anything that is even 25% as good. I understand that creating a new, better system is hard, but that is their job and core product. Firefox could have been providing the framework on which extensions would sit. Also, they earned 500 million dollars per year, for years; had over 1000 employees. They couldnt find people who could solve hard problems?

Or maybe it is a failure of project management: developers ignored hard problems, they preferred to work on new, shiny green-field projects. Those new toys are great: they boost the CV, allow to play with new technologies, often are left in half baked state so you dont care about bugs. They also have no users, so nobody will complain, basically no accountability for a project that is never finished and killed after 1-2 years. We saw many of such side projects in Firefox - all shifting away resources from the core product that is neglected.

Firefox’s decline was already well in progress before anything changed with extensions. The problem was that Google’s ad profits allowed them to pour money into Chrome without needing the browser to be profitable, and their advertisements of Chrome on the most popular websites were hard to counter. Extensions weren’t moving the needle on that and, as many people involved have explained, the old design was a substantial maintenance cost preventing other important changes to remain competitive with Chrome.

The big question is whether there’s a model for browser development which isn’t subsidized by huge companies which profit elsewhere. Short of government support (antitrust, direct funding, etc.) I’m not sure there is a viable path forward.

The quote in context is available here: https://answers.thenextweb.com/s/mitchell-baker-aGY62z

Let's assume good faith and that executive pay in general at Mozilla was not competitive.

That would be similar to a company noticing that it has been underpaying software engineers and then choosing to bump up compensation significantly.

A question that raises is: do executives (and software engineers?) bring the value that is associated with those pay grades, given that they seem increasingly detached from other roles?

I don't know - are many people here on HN familiar enough with executive-level strategy, connections and work practices to discuss whether that value is justified?

In honesty I believe that some executives are probably capable of using their personal networks to bring on-board significant expertise, industry influence, negotiating power and other talents (such as, frankly, the ability to dominate conversations and sway opinions, for better or worse - as long as it doesn't hurt the company) that are typically hard to quantify or certificate.

If the tech industry continues consolidating into a smaller number of more important companies then it seems understandable that those influence and network effects become more important in order to stay competitive.

I'm not sure if that's fair - those might not be the kind of skills that can necessarily be learned; I'd argue they're frequently side-effects of people's upbringing, social networks, and psychological profiles (including some dark/problematic personality types). But it explains the realpolitik of the situation without demonizing individual decision-makers for what may be rational choices in the environment.

> Let's assume good faith and that executive pay in general at Mozilla was not competitive.

The problem is that this is a very subjective claim. If you think of mozilla as belonging to the same category as tech giants or successful tech startups, and believe it needs to compete with them to attract talent then it's not unreasonable. If you think of firefox as a charity then it's completely insane.

Compensation for charity CEOs, even tech focussed ones (like the EFF, TOR, wikimedia, khan academy) are lower, usually much lower. A number of charities have managed to attract impressive CEOs despite not paying 'market' rates.

That's a good critique.

It's pure conjecture but I'd imagine that the compensation culture in this case started near the top of the company (given that it appears executive-centric) - perhaps based on conversations with potential hires, vendors, competitors, and so forth.

Given the nature of Firefox, I'd expect many of those third parties would have been anchored in the 'tech giant' world -- perhaps leading compensation policy astray.

You'll find me criticizing them a lot but in their defense: I would probably not have been able to renegotiate that Google deal earlier this year given how Google basically does whatever they want in the browser space for now, so it seems they do something.

That said: to me it comes off as a bit done deaf to raise salaries for top execs in a non profit while firing the people who does the work and also I cannot see how anything should be prioritized if the situation is critical except:

- the main revenue driver and simultaneously their biggest contribution to fulfilling their mission, Firefox.

- initiatives to add more reliable sources of income for the long run.

Deprioritizing Firefox seems crazy in such a situation.

(I know nothing about their actual plans but I could come up with is if they are cutting spending to save up money for an endowment fund, but I guess that is just wishful thinking.)

If it's unfair on your families to be making only a million dollars a year instead of two and a half, what does that say about the ~99% of America who makes less than a million dollars a year?

When low paid workers ask for a raise we tell them it's not about your need, it's about your contribution.

But for execs it's about their need.

Once again, it's down to rich vs poor. Rules for thee but not for me.

Also it's just a weird point. Is the point of CEO pay to keep their family in the highest order of lavishness? How is their financial irresponsibility anyone else's concern when it comes to discussing the adequate salary of the position?

The families of the workers who made 200k however.. well they can f* right off and find a new job. Their family doesn't matter.

> Firefox has a problem. It gets most of its revenue from Google. They need a different revenue stream but their ideas haven't worked.

It's not just that they get most of their revenue from Google -- it's that they're getting most of their revenue from a company that also runs their biggest competitor and has every incentive to push their own product over someone else's.

Apple and Mozilla both have uncomfortable dependencies on Google nowadays, so I wonder if one of them (if not both) are looking to buy DuckDuckGo.

Google may want to do with Mozilla the same thing Microsoft did with Apple during their antitrust case: keep it alive to keep the regulators off their back.

While I understand the frustration, it's unclear to me what the expected solution is for Mozilla. Pay the CEO less until the company does better? Ok but the CEO will presumably just find a higher paying job elsewhere. Then what? Find a cheaper CEO? How does that help fix the slipping market share for Firefox?

> Find a cheaper CEO?

Find a CEO whose motivation is more "make the world a better place" than "make millions of dollars a year". $500k is a large enough salary to live well just about anywhere. After that it's just "victory points" in the game of careerism.

Modern CEO pay is a cargo-cult. Companies pay CEO insane amounts because "everybody else does it" and "it helps hire the best".

These theories are untested, except that we now know for certain that paying $2.5M doesn't guarantee that the CEO is any good.

I would bet you can hire an excellent, technically competent CEO for Mozilla for $250k a year.

Mozilla's last three CEOs (Baker, Beard and Eich) all had worked at Mozilla before. Mozilla appears unable to recruit outside CEOs even with its current CEO compensation.

We knew that already, did everyone forget the Yahoo fiasco?

> I would bet you can hire an excellent, technically competent CEO for Mozilla for $250k a year.

But how long would they stay after other companies learn this new person is actually competent and start throwing money at them.

With her doubtful record of success, it is questionable that the CEO really could find a higher paying job elsewhere.

And Mozilla's poor track record suggests that if Mozilla insists on paying the same CEO salary, they might do well to find a different CEO to give it to.

I think the point is less that this CEO should take a pay cut — although she probably should — but more that the mediocrity + layoffs + exorbitant-CEO-salary situation here reeks of self-dealing.

Better align executive pay with business performance from the beginning. If the business is failing then parting company with the CEO is working as intended.

What’s so great about this CEO? Would a cheaper CEO do worse?

I agree, I dont think this CEO is special. His argument is flawed on that premise alone. I think they should pull an MS and promote the CIO or a lead engineer.

They fired everyone who would've been worth promoting already.

yes. it helps by reducing burn rate of good money.

The solution to being underpaid is to find a new job. Not to suck the organization dry...

Sucking the organization dry is a perfectly valid solution for those who have the power to do so.

It's bad for the organization, but the leadership doesn't really care about that.

If leadership does not care about the well being of the organization, that is a fireable offense. I mean, it's the entire purpose of the role.

How are you using the word "valid" there?

being unfair to other’s family members didn’t stop the layoffs.

OTOH, the people laid off are notoriously competent and will easily find new well paying jobs.

The CEO's yacht won't pay itself.

sad but true

Did they look at the market of piss poor at their jobs execs before judging they were underpaid?

Unfortunately, it's very likely that they did!

It would be immoral to to place figurative death on a living persons social status due to actual acts

But it’s moral to let people starve, die of preventable disease due to sitting on your ha day

Welcome to America’s emotional prison

Old people have convinced young people to pander to them until they’re the grave, they’re locking up the judiciary to force themselves on the future

And Americans sit here like coddled children

Isn’t that pretty much living in a sinking ship of a country?

No one here going to admit the top down political failures of the past aren’t able to handle modern reality?

There is no artificial shortage of code anymore. GitHub and GitLab are gutting that labor market. Who cares if they can’t make new code shapes? Business only cares that the machines keep sorting. Self aggrandizing nerds care about code shapes.

> There's a quote from the CEO saying that they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid.

afair AMD CEO is paid 4x less than Mozilla CEO.

That is shocking if true, but doesn't seem to be?

AMD's Lisa Su was the highest-paid CEO of a company in the S&P 500 last year. Su earned a total of $58.5 million in 2019 [0]

Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's top executive, was paid $2.4m in 2018 [1]

[0] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/01/tech/lisa-su-amd-highest-...

[1] http://calpaterson.com/mozilla.html

Can you even compare Mitchell Baker to Lisa Su in terms of achievement?

Su revived a company on the verge of bankruptcy. Since she was appointed CEO, AMD's stock has soared and they've made themselves a viable competitor against Intel. This has been a massive boon to the market.

It's worth noting that Su has a deep understanding of the underlying technology that the company works on (she's an electrical engineer), which was essential to her success at the company.

Su is an example of merit-based compensation. Baker is not.

From your first article: "In 2019, she earned $1 million in base salary and a $1.2 million performance-based bonus.".

So not 4x, but 2x based on base salary.

Good point. It is misleading to compare base pay rather than overall comp, though.

overall comp is heavily biased towards stock performance. Given AMD's exceptional performance in recent years it's natural to expect her overall comp to also be quite good.

including stock compensation?

The reason CEOs are paid well is because they have an important and risky job. And if they bring success by their actions, they totally deserve their millions.

But if the company/organization is doing poorly, the CEO doesn't deserve the high pay. And having the pay reduced, or even not being paid at all for a time if it can help the company is one of the risks CEO should be able to take. It is not unfair for their families if they planned for it in advance instead of taking their high pay for granted. You can save a lot when you are being paid millions.

The problem is not that they get most of their revenue from Google. The problem is that they have 5% share of the web now.

The Google money is what enabled them to let their core product wither and nearly die without any short-term consequences. They spent a pretty long time with it in that state while pursuing things like a phone OS. Without the Google money they would have had more incentive to keep Firefox competitive.

Funnily enough, the web OS turned out to be a success — only after it was sold and rebranded.

That does not mean that they problem is the google money. The problem is that they had (have) lots of money that they did not spend smartly.

5% of a few billion users is not nothing. Mostly the decline of Mozilla has little to do with the browser functionality or marketing but with the fact that there are several competing browsers out there that have caught up. E.g. MS ditched IE in favor of Edge. Apple has continued investing in Safari which they also force the usage of exclusively on IOS. And of course Google has similar control point in the form of Chrome. I am a happy Firefox user BTW. But I can see lack of incentive for other people to switch. Any of those browsers gets the job done for any user.

IMHO, 5% is actually fine. That's a robust user base of a few tens to hundreds of million users. Nothing to sneeze at and a good basis for long term existence of the project.

Where Mozilla went the wrong direction is with their commercial activities. Their core problem is that their product is a commodity. It's just not going to bring in a lot of revenue. Apple and Google use their respective browser as a control point for the app store and ads. It's an expense worth making because they both exploit the large number of users using their browsers via other channels. Most of what Google does is motivated by this. Likewise, Apple is selling hardware, apps, and subscriptions.

Mozilla does not have a similarly viable way of generating revenue from their user base. It's an OSS product that users install and use for free. Their core value is actually protecting users against that kind of thing which is a noble thing to do but not a business plan.

That's why Mozilla was initially styled as a foundation. The commercial branch came later and its the commercial branch that is failing; not the foundation. They have no money maker of note other than their search traffic deals. Everything else, including (I'll just call this right now), their recent VPN offering is never going to come close to bankrolling their operation. This follows a long line of failed investments in a mobile strategy that never panned out, various "experiments' that never got off the ground, misc services that they launched and that people promptly forgot about, etc. None of it engaged more than a fraction of their user base. None of it wowed anyone. None of it was more than a me too effort of replicating things that already existed and already were commodities. Mozilla as an investment vehicle for new products only loosely connected to Firefox has failed.

The way out is back to basics. Pull the plug on the Mozilla corporation as soon as convenient for investors and setup the foundation for success and untangle it from the VCs. It will need donations, the search engine revenue looks good as well and ought to be allocated 100% to keeping the browser going. There should be enough to keep an engineering team going. It doesn't need a marketing department, offices in London, Paris, San Francisco, Mountain View, etc. Hell, the rent for that alone could keep a development team going for a very long time. Much bigger things have been built with far less. That shit only ever made sense when Mozilla was styling itself as an incubation vehicle for turning VC money into products. Now that that has definitely failed, time to walk away from that.

And then there's the Rust part of the company. IMHO that's a valid asset where Mozilla has a lot of influence in a rapidly growing community. There's an opportunity there to grow some healthy business around that supporting the many companies looking to leverage that. So far, they run it like a charity. That's a mistake. Aside from Firefox, that's actually the single most valuable IP they ever created. And like Firefox, it lacks a plan for revenue. Rust almost happened by accident. But MS and Apple are now looking to use it and it seems people are doing Rust things in the Linux kernel as well.

> Hell, the rent for that alone could keep a development team going for a very long time.

This. So much this. Besides, if they moved their HQ outside the Valley, they could probably also hire new people for much less…

I agree with most of this, however I think graphic design and some marketing is still very important. In fact, now more than ever they need that. Engineering should still be the primary focus, though.

> Their core problem is that their product is a commodity.

Even worse, the cheapest comparable alternatives are free. At least commodities can be sold at the market price if you can't differentiate yours enough.

13% of desktop use. Given Chrome and Safari are hard to get rid of on phones (especially iphones) that's key.

My phone browser is like a snack, my desktop browser is what I care about.

> they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid.

I also suspect Firefox engineers are underpaid relative to Google SWEs working on Chrome.

Isn't the CEO pay here a classic example of principal-agent problem?

In a commercial company, there would be activist investors pushing to cut manager's pay and change management. But I'm not familiar with this type of NGOs so well; who is supposed play the role of principal here? And are they not playing it properly?

The for-profit entity (Mozilla Corporation) is wholly owned by the non-profit entity (Mozilla Foundation) and Mitchell Baker leads both organizations. That is a conflict of interest. She should resign from one entity, but there is a compelling argument that she is a failure at leading both organizations.

FYI -- The foundation owns the IP, while the corporation manages software engineering and the Google search deal.

In an NGO they need to secure funding, too much bloat (including director-level pay) could make fundraising more difficult.

...I guess if you get your money from a disinterested Google rather than fundraising there really isn't anyone to push back against inefficiency/poor performance.

Really the board should have been pushing back/course correcting, but sadly even in private companies boards are usually weak af (simply doing the ceos bidding).

> There's a quote from the CEO saying that they looked at the market and felt like they were being underpaid.

> And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

To give context, Baker's annual salary is $2.5 million.

Source? The documents listing her pay come from before she was CEO, and most of the pay was from a bonus.

> Isn't that pretty much admitting that they're on a sinking ship?


They are admitting they are solely reliant on Google's money. Given that Google Chrome is a direct competitor to Firefox and has gained more market share, Google can justify to either reduce spend or stop paying for being the default search engine in Firefox due to its shrinking market share and instead pay more for Apple Safari as the default in iOS, macOS, etc instead.

Mozilla and Firefox will be another geek's relic in this decade if it doesn't find another revenue source apart from relying on Google - A direct competitor in all areas.

Firefox isn't a direct competitor to Chrome. It's Google's hedge against an anti-trust lawsuit.

When you see Mozilla as a Big Tech trust-fund baby struggling with cognitive dissonance, then their behavior makes sense.

If you look at the history of Mozilla's revenue, this conspiracy is ridiculous. Why would Yahoo compete over the Firefox contract if they serve as a hedge against a lawsuit?

Why would you (Google) not prefer for someone else (yahoo!) to pay for something that benefits you? That Yahoo! leadership didn't renew the contract should tell you how much being a default search engine is actually worth. Why would you (actual you) believe that Google would provide nearly all of a "competitor's" revenue? that somehow makes more sense? The pontificating about privacy Mozilla does is total nonsense. They serve their users up to Google's surveillance enterprise without hesitation. They're a puppet to fool gullible hipsters with fashionable social statements.

Yahoo was bought out during the term of the contact. And I don't know the details, but I believe Google pays Apple for the same thing, paying Mozilla isn't surprising.

I was looking for the source of this quote and it's from an interview in June 2020:

"I learned that my pay was about an 80% discount to market. Meaning that competitive roles elsewhere were paying about 5 times as much. That's too big a discount to ask people and their families to commit to."


> it'd be unfair on their families

WTF of an excuse that is?!

This narrative ignores the fact that many of the executives have been replaced whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

This. Compare

Today: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/leadership/

One year ago: https://web.archive.org/web/20190923050403/https://www.mozil...

Two years ago: https://web.archive.org/web/20180923185143/https://www.mozil...

Specifically for criticism of the CEO, I wish people would keep in mind that Chris Beard was CEO from 2014 through 2019.



(Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla)

I wish Mozilla created a fundation so people can give to Firefox specifically, as opposed to Mozilla, the same way they did with Thunderbird. I for sure won't be giving to Mozilla until they change to reasonable leadership with reasonable compensation.

I'm not a native english speaker, and I'm curious. Mozilla's CEO is a woman. Why are you referring to her as they? I know about the gender pronouns debacle... But isn't it OK to call her a woman?

because they are talking about exec and they're are more than one exec

I'm using Edge since it saves on battery life, maybe I should just stop with Firefox for a while till they get a new CEO and get their crap together. I never stopped using Firefox, I wasn't somebody who started using it again after Quantum, I just never liked Chrome much, but only ever used it for development purposes.

Are they the ones sinking the ship though?

I doesn't matter, literally the the buck stops with them.

The bucks aren't trickling down from the execs to the workers

>And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

That's downright appalling.

It is strange that corporations like Mozilla give me some communism flashbacks. In the communist times of Romania, the earnings were privatized (meaning that the party took all the profits and stored them abroad in fiscal paradises) while the losses were socialized and the party imposed austerity measures on the proletariat[1] because of their management failures. I draw a parallel between what happens with the raise of their executives salaries and the layoffs that affected the engineering department. Nassim Taleb wrote a good article about Corporate Socialism[2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980s_austerity_policy_in_Roma... [2] https://medium.com/incerto/corporate-socialism-the-governmen...

Without knowing the details, it's hard to say the execs are failures. They could be doing a good job, given the rough hand they've been dealt.

What is this nonsense over and over again on HN?

  Let's say I'm hired as a coach of a team that's second best in the world (Being the second used browser in the world is NOT a rough hand, other browsers are clawing for >1% for ever and are not coming close). I'm not saying it's easy at all but after 5 years I manage to do NOTHING to stop the bleeding, lose 250 highly skilled people and RAISE MY OWN SALARY 5x...
I'm pretty sure people would throw rocks at me on the street at that point. The cult of the CEO needs to die.

The rough hand of leading a company with a very successful product and having to find ways to run it into the ground?

> but their ideas haven't worked.

What ideas though?

That's not a new idea whatsoever. I'm not gonna use a browser because the team behind it built a cheap mega clone.

reducing their 2.5M a year salary would definitely be unfair for their family. Think of the children!!

You should read your comment back to yourself.

Imagine saying, "well, I know he gunned 20 kids in a school down, but he had such a bad day, he's just couldn't take it." Sure it's probably true, but it's definitely not right.

> And they can't reduce their salary now because it'd be unfair on their families.

That's fucking bullshit. They make millions.

Mozilla has been sinking for a long time and they have been scrambling to hold on.


Should be tied to the other salaries in the company. For example capped at 10x the lowest paid employee.

Meh. Have a floor of 3x average employee and let the pay be proportional to performance. There are natural limits to growth anyway.

HN crowd is a sucker when it comes to Mozilla. These bleeding hearts don’t bleed for furloughed and fired Mozilla drones. They only care about their political agenda not business or technological value.

Firefox is already dead... which I'm happy about because they're doing a horrible job.

BUT... key point here, I totally agree with them regarding their compensation.

Even non-profits have to be competitive.

Imagine it's YOU... everyone you know is making 350-400k at Google and you're stuck making 180 or whatever at FF. Would you stay?

And sure, say YOU would, what % of your colleagues do you think would stay?

Does there exist a "market" for CEOs of failing browser companies? I'm not aware of it. Her position would roughly map to that of a junior VP in Google or Microsoft nomenclature. I strongly doubt those people make anywhere near $2.4M/yr.

How did you come up with that comparison? Running a standalone company from the top is very different than the responsibilities of a junior VP in a trillion-dollar organization.

And, not to mention, a VP of engineering at Google probably does make something like that amount of money (possibly more). Directors make ~800k-1m, and VP is two levels higher.

How long do they get to "make money" if they nuke their product's market share by 85%?

Especially in terms of potential liability.

What "liability"? She's running it into the ground so far.

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