Via Mike Linksvayer, the Mozilla Foundation has reported that it took in $52.9 million in revenues in 2005, mostly from “our search engine relationships,” which I think mostly means payments from Google to have their search engine be the default in the FireFox toolbar. This more or less confirms rumors that were reported last year on Mozilla’s revenues.
This is fantastic news, and given that the search engine wars show no sign of abating, I have to imagine they earned similar revenues in 2006. This provides a big pot of money they can use to promote further improvements to FireFox and Mozilla’s other products, or to spend helping to support the work of open source developers working on other projects.
I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software. But here we have a pretty clear counter-example. The Mozilla community has created a product that’s so valuable that they’ve stumbled upon a “business model” for it–almost by accident–that’s worth $50 million. And given that this is a product that’s given away for free to tens of millions of users, it’s a safe bet that if you could put a dollar figure on the total wealth created by the Mozilla project, it would be a lot larger than that.