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Mozilla re-negotiates Google multi-million dollar sugar-daddy deal

Business as usual, honest

Mozilla Firefox Fox sitting down

Exclusive Mozilla is negotiating its multi-million-dollar sugar-daddy finance deal with Google to keep operating.

The Firefox browser-maker is in talks with Google to extend an agreement that has funnelled millions of Mountain View dollars into the not-for-profit web idealist shop, The Reg has learned.

Google is the default search service for millions of Firefox users worldwide thanks to a three-year agreement between the pair extended in November 2011.

Mozilla gets a percentage of the search dollars generated for Google by Firefox traffic.

Other search engines are supported and can be picked from a list - Yahoo!, Bing and DuckDuckGo for web, and Amazon.com, eBay, Twitter and Wikipedia (EN) search – but it’s Google most of the world gets out of the box upon downloading Firefox.

The pair's 2011 deal expires this month and Mozilla told The Reg it’s now in the middle of negotiations.

Mozilla would not reveal details.

“These discussions are subject to traditional confidentiality requirements, and we’re not at liberty to disclose them at this time,” a Mozilla spokesperson told us.

A successful outcome is nothing less than critical to Mozilla’s survival.

Funding from Google in Mozilla's accounting is categorised as "royalties" and accounted for 90 per cent of Mozilla’s total revenue and support in 2012, a gain over 85 per cent from the year before.

Mozilla made $331,005 and $163,474 in revenue and support respectively.

That proportion has been remarkably consistent – 86 per cent and 91 per cent in 2009 and 2008.

There’s no public figure for the year 2012 and 2013 has yet to be released by Mozilla.

An agreement with Google goes back 10 years to 2004.

Without Google and in the absence of a more diversified income, there’s no doubt Mozilla could not function.

Neither would Firefox as we know it have been able to rise up to break Microsoft’s dominant hold on the web browser market during the 2000s.

Some would challenge Mozilla’s independence and question whether Firefox could continue given almost all of its money comes from a single source - the web’s largest ads slinger and search engine, which now has its own browser.

However, Mozilla chief technology officer Andreas Gal categorised the relationship as purely "a business agreement".

“This doesn’t couple us very closely to Google,” he said.

“Even though we have a business relationship with Google and friendly relationships on standards with Microsoft and Apple etc, you have to work with competitors and then compete with them. There’s no conflict in our mind.”

The pair have profoundly different strategics to the browser in relation to privacy: Mozilla has been a lead advocate on privacy and has implemented Do Not Track in Firefox, allowing users to shield themselves from tracking by websites and ads networks online.

Google was late to implement DNT in Chrome, doing so only after Firefox. Google’s business is more dependent upon giving its advertisers the ability to follow users online and serve them “relevant” content.

It’s this ads-tracking that, at the end of the day, helps keep the lights on at Mozilla. ®

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