Mozilla Is Laying Off 250 People, Because Everything Can Always Get Worse

Photo: JOSEP LAGO/AFP, Getty Images
Photo: JOSEP LAGO/AFP, Getty Images

The Mozilla Corporation obliterated 250 jobs this week, as the company juggles its priorities: making the Firefox browser and making money.

Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker announced the layoffs in an internal email, which the company posted online on Tuesday. She also laid out the company’s hopeful path toward sustainability in a blog post, where she cited “conditions resulting from the global pandemic” that have “significantly impacted our revenue” as a reason for the job cuts. There’s been plenty of that going around, and unfortunately, Mozilla is not unique in taking a hit during this economic downturn, fuelling fears that covid-19 could lead to consolidation around a few winners and an extinction-level event for the little guys across a variety of industries.

The Mozilla Corporation said it had “over 1,000” full-time employees as of 2018, meaning this round of cuts will leave nearly a quarter of its current workforce out of a job.

“We are reducing the size of the MoCo workforce by approximately 250 roles, including closing our current operations in Taipei, Taiwan. Another 60 or so people will change teams. The people who are included in the reduction are both true Mozillians, and professionals with high degrees of skill and expertise and commitment. This action is not in any way – not, not, not – a reflection on personal or professional qualities,” Baker wrote in the email to employees.

All laid-off employees will continue to receive “at least” their base salary and health benefits through the end of the year, as well as bonuses, according to the letter. Mozilla also plans to post an optional “talent directory” on August 17 to help those who lost their jobs find new employment, should they choose to take part.

This fresh nightmare follows cuts to around 70 people’s jobs at the company in mid-January, TechCrunch reported. That was, of course, before the coronavirus pandemic wrecked the world economy and cemented 2020 as most wretched year in modern memory.

Baker offered some hints as to what these layoffs mean for consumers: expect Mozilla to invest its limited resources in more things that cost money, like the company’s recently launched VPN which costs $US5 ($7) a month. Free stuff, like Firefox’s developer tools, will be a considerably lower priority.

“We are organising a new product organisation outside of Firefox that will both ship new products faster and develop new revenue streams,” Baker wrote in the email. “Our initial investments will be Pocket, Hubs, VPN, Web Assembly and security and privacy products. In addition, we are creating a new Design and UX team to support these products and a new applied Machine Learning team that will help our products include ML features.”

Mozilla has said these actions aren’t merely an incremental trimming to cut costs, but a plan to make the organisation as a whole sustainable. However, the exhausting maze that is our current reality is far from over, and there are surely new horrors ahead for all of us, Mozilla included.