The Mozilla Foundation is to turn for-profit with a new incorporated arm to push the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail application.
The Mozilla Corporation will generate revenue and profit, act as a taxable entity, and take on all the existing paid staff, but the Foundation said that it was "eager to emphasise that [Mozilla Corp.] will pursue the same public benefit goals as the Foundation itself and will not be driven purely by revenue goals".
The non-profit Mozilla Foundation, whose software has been built through the open-source software model, will continue to exist and will be the sole owner of the corporation. Any profits made will be put back into the "Mozilla project" the organisation said.
The stated idea is that "by moving product development out to a new subsidiary, the Mozilla Foundation hopes to be able to concentrate on project and policy issues." The corporation will not have shareholders, offer stock options or provide dividends.
"The Mozilla Corporation is not a typical commercial entity. Rather, it is dedicated to the public benefit goal at the heart of the Mozilla project, which is to keep the Internet open and available to everyone," said Mozilla Corp.'s new president, Mitchell Baker. Mozilla products will remain free and open source.
The Mozilla Foundation was formed about two years ago, primarily through $2 million in funding from the former AOL. Its Firefox browser has taken close to 10 percent of the browser market, presenting a challenge to Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer.
A Mozilla spokesman in Europe claimed it was not a drastic change. "It makes more sense to have a commercial entity doing this rather than a public foundation," he said. "It's not the case that someone is taking Firefox and making a lot of money. The revenue we have made is almost accidental, it was not initially expected but it happened, so we needed to evolve the legal structure and fiscal structure to reflect this."
There are no plans to introduce any new, paid services to make additional money for Mozilla. More information on the reorganisation is available here.