“You’re a Non-Profit?”

The most common comment I get when I give my standard spiel telling people what I do is that “I didn’t know Firefox was made by a non-profit”. It seems that William is finding the same thing among kids in Nairobi.

If we’ve generated this much success, brand recognition and good will even though most people think we are in it for the money, how much more would we get when people realise we are doing it to make their lives better? It’s a key differentiator against all our major competitors – IE, Safari, Opera and Chrome.

We have got to make more noise about this. In the product itself, where people can see it. Suggestions as to how are welcome :-)

10 thoughts on ““You’re a Non-Profit?”

  1. Mozilla *Corporation* makes Firefox and is *for profit*.
    Mozilla Corp. gets tens of million US Dollars per year from Google alone.

  2. Mozilla FOUNDATION develops Firefox and it’s NON-PROFIT.

    MozCorp employs many Firefox developers, but the foundation is the one that develops the platform and the software.

    Please get your facts straight, Corporate at September.

  3. For-profit companies make people’s lives better, otherwise they don’t make a profit. That dynamic makes capitalism remarkably successful in improving everyone lives.

    Unfortunately the feedback between profit and improving lives is incomplete. There are also ways to use a for-profit organization to create profit without any improvements. Sadly same is true for non-profit organizations. They can become so focused on one goal that they lose essential qualities that improve people’s lives.

    What aspect of a non-profit browser distinguishes it from other browsers? If you find that, then it makes a lot of sense to highlight it. But the non-profit part isn’t interesting by itself.

  4. In actual fact, what capitalism accomplishes is having corporations succeeding, not when they make people’s lives better, but when people NEED those corporation. What you’re saying, John, are the words of someone who either doesn’t understand how the world is working at the moment, or of someone who is immensely hypocritical. I’m willing to think it’s the first case.

    You can look at many cases of successful corporations. Some, of course, make people lives better, of that there is no doubt. But as a general rule, corporations are but huge gigantic leeches feeding off people’s needs, be them natural or artificial. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, arguably the biggest nest of bankrupt personalities, lives off people’s natural needs (for the most part, of course, there’s plenty of cases where people’s pharmaceutical needs are artificial/controlled). This industry is indispensable for mankind’s development, but capitalism forces it to be competitive in a counter productive way (yes, competition is, more often than not, deteriorating to technology development), and makes sure that small rare diseases are left for non-profit organizations to try to cure. Most people get their lives improved, but some are completely ignored. All the while the big fish is getting fatter and fatter, for whatever tragic twist of logic.

    Capitalism is also responsible for the deep shat we are at, at the moment. More than that, capitalism is responsible for the unbelievably flawed economical mechanism we are looking at: there’s less and less production, and BECAUSE of that (not that as a result) there’s less and less working people. Last time I checked, if you work, you make stuff. It’s immensely tragic that we’ve reached a point where saying “there’s unemployment because production dropped” is accepted as normal and fair. And 10% or more of the first-world countries’ population is sitting on their ass (except for those who, while unemployed, contribute to non-profit organizations or do stuff that’s valuable – such as helping out the elderly or their sick parent or whatever), while 35 thousand children starve to death everyday. That is the result of capitalism.

    Applied to the web, capitalism is even greater a threat than elsewhere. Look at what Microsoft did to the web. I’ll leave it at that.

    Don’t misunderstand me though. I’m not a saint, and I admit it. While I try to be as productive as possible, even when unemployed (which I’m not anymore! finally…), I’m not exactly an activist. I’m fully against capitalism in its current form, and I believe, without a doubt, that it will be a thing of the past in 100/150 years time. But I don’t do much about it. I’m still to young to worry about the world may children will live in…

  5. We actually mention that Mozilla is a non-profit organization on the EULA toolbar which appears on clean profiles. If we’ll use the update mechanism and mention it on the Firefox 4 first-run page, many more people will notice this.

  6. Tiago: what alternative are you proposing? If free and fair exchange for goods and services doesn’t determine what goods and services are produced, then the only alternative is some form of coercion. So, in your system, who gets to tell other people what to do, and why do they have that right?


  7. I think people get confused by the term “non-profit”. It simply means there’s no return on equity, because there is no shareholder equity. It means nobody is making a profit, but it doesn’t mean that the organization has no income or that nobody is earning a salary.

  8. I think I’d let it go, actually.

    On the whole, a lot of people’s experience with non-profit organizations is pretty mediocre. Non-profit organizations don’t charge you, but often they also don’t provide very good service. Their services are usually cheaper than but also frequently wholly inferior to what’s available commercially.

    Just for example, at a local level (like when you have to go into the actual office of a non-profit for any reason), they typically can’t afford to staff themselves well enough to sustain decent hours of operation, so they’re usually open on some crazy inconvenient schedule, like 1-3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9-11am on the fifth Saturday of every month, except when it’s within a week and a half of a major holiday or a key person gets sick. Sometimes the only way to even get ahold of them is to call someone at home, and you have to know whom to call, and often the only way to find out who to call is to speak to someone who happens to know. It can be a real pain. This is the sort of thing that runs through people’s heads when you say “non-profit”. The associations aren’t all good.

    There are exceptions, non-profits that are well-staffed and really on the ball, but most of them are very large, very well-known organizations (like the Red Cross), part of a long-standing well-established franchise (like the Y), or churches (which most people think of as a completely separate category — rightly, IMO). Of course, the Mozilla organization can be one of these big exceptions, but IMO that works best if people have had a chance to get to know and already like your product first before they find out there’s a non-profit involved.

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