Executive Non-Profits

I recently found an article or post saying that the Firefox browser was considering putting ads into its “new tab” page.  Now to read the announcement, you’d think it was a great thing for the user, because when you install a new browser and run it for the first time, clearly you do not know what to do and where to go.  Welcome to 1990.

That lunacy is not the reason I felt compelled to write.  It’s been out of my thoughts for a long time that the Mozilla Foundation, who creates Firefox, is a very large non-profit organization.  It was just kind of in my thoughts that the Firefox team was a very large group of programmers, possibly headed up by some architects.  I envisioned a bunch of great minds working together for a noble cause.  That’s not really how it is.

It’s a company.  It’s a big company.  And there are a lot of people who get paid from this company.  I’ve talked before about how large non-profits are paying people with a lot of other people’s money.  And these people essentially have a perpetual conflict of interest.  Non-profits are typically created to solve a problem.  What happens when you win?  The non-profit isn’t needed anymore.  You’ve put yourself out of a job.

So there’s that part of it, that you’re getting paid to fight a war, but you don’t really want the war to end.  But then there’s the other part, which is, if you’re joining a non-profit, you should believe in the cause, right?  And your experience can further that cause, right?  But what if you have experience, but not the passion?  Then, money talks.

And money seems to be talking pretty well at Mozilla.  The directors of the foundation are doing ok.  $150k+ for a couple of them.  That’s actually pretty much in line with executive pay.  The others?  I mean only three others?  $500k+ each.  That’s kind of ill-proportioned, maybe.  For a non-profit, remember.  This is about a cause.  a cause you can’t begin to put a price on – keeping the Internet free.  I think these three are less about the cause and more about the salary.

Blah, blah, blah.  Big company, big salaries.  But here’s where it ties in with the article I read.  Mozilla hired a new person, brought in at the Vice President level, to use his skill to bring in more money for the organization.  The salary is unknown, but $100k+ is safe to guess.  His idea?  Advertising, under the guise of helping new users.  His job is to create the money to pay himself and all the other executives, because cost-cutting would be backwards.

The revenue for 2012 was in the range of 9 million.  The total salaries were 4 million.  The executive compensation was 2 million.  Nearly a quarter of revenue.  Nearly half of all salaries.

Let me sum this up.  Mozilla is about keeping the Internet free, so that it can’t be manipulated by corporations (never mind the recent failure of net neutrality).  Their solution to losing donation revenue given to them by corporations – primarily Google – is to use advertising by corporations, who will direct/inform/influence users to use the internet that best benefits them.  Anything wrong with that model?

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