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Mozilla 2023 Annual Report: CEO pay skyrockets, while Firefox Marketshare nosedives
(and that appears to be the plan)
December 28, 2023
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The Mozilla Foundation has released their latest annual report -- covering the time up through December of 2022 (Mozilla's reporting always lags by one year) -- and something peculiar leaps out of the data:

  • The compensation of the Mozilla CEO has skyrocketed (by millions)
  • While the Mozilla revenue drops
  • And the Firefox Marketshare takes a nosedive

While, at first, this seems ridiculously lopsided... perhaps it actually makes sense.

Perhaps the decreasing Firefox marketshare is a good thing, from the Mozilla point of view.

Mozilla CEO gets a raise

Let's start by looking at the pay of the Mozilla CEO.

Source: Mozilla Foundation 2022 IRS 990

That's right.  Your eyes do not deceive you.  The Mozilla CEO earned $6,903,089 in 2022.  Just shy of $7 Million.

The year prior (2021), the CEO earned $5.6 Million.  A raise of $1.3 Million dollars.  Not a bad year-on-year increase!

Now let's take a look at the core performance of Mozilla: The overall revenue, and the marketshare of their core product (Firefox) during that same period.

If a CEO gets a $1.3 Million dollar raise, surely those numbers will be excellent!  ... Right?

Turns out... the revenue for Mozilla actually dropped between 2021 and 2022.

Source: Mozilla Foundation 2022 IRS 990

To be fair, not a huge drop.  Revenue went from $600 Million in 2021 to $593 Million in 2022.  Roughly $7 Million lower.  A small decrease, percentage wise... but a decrease just the same.

The Firefox Nosedive

Now let's look at the marketshare of Mozilla's primary product: Firefox.

From the end of 2021 to the end of 2022 (the period during which the Mozilla CEO received a $1.3 Million Dollar raise), Firefox marketshare took a massive tumble.

Going from (an already declining) 3.79%... down to 3.04%.

It's almost as if there is an inverse relationship between Firefox Marketshare and Mozilla CEO compensation -- as marketshare goes down... CEO pay goes up by a similar percentage.

Absolutely wild.

Something doesn't add up... or does it?

So.  What can we learn from all of this?

Well, for starters, it is clear that Mozilla CEO compensation is not tied to either the success of the Firefox web browser (their current primary product) or to the overall revenue of Mozilla.

So what, exactly, could be the justification for that massive pay raise?

Turns out there are two big, measurable goals that Mozilla appears to have... and, at those goals, it is performing exceptionally well:

  1. Continued increases to overall corporate financial assets.
  2. Transitioning Mozilla away from Firefox.

That first goal is rather obvious.  Let's be honest, what company doesn't want to have a massive pile of financial assets?

In 2022, the Mozilla war-chest (total assets) grew to a staggering $1.3 Billion Dollars -- up $157 Million from the year prior.  A huge increase to their financial assets.

Source: Mozilla Foundation 2022 IRS 990

With over half a Billion Dollars in cash alone.  That's a lot of cheddar.

But that's only part of the story.

The De-Firefox-ification of Mozilla

Let's take another look at the 2022 revenue breakdown.


Note that revenue from "Royalties" is down substantially -- a decrease of $17 Million.  Those "Royalties" are, in large part, made up of default search engine placement, within Firefox, for one single customer... Google.  This decrease makes sense considering the signficant decline in Firefox marketshare.

But then look at the second row: "Subscription and advertising revenue".

What is that, exactly?  That line item includes some of the more recently launched subscription services -- "Pocket Premium" and "Mozilla VPN" (plus some advertising placement).  And, you'll note, that revenue jumped from $56 Million to $75 Million in 2022.

While that may be a drop in the bucket of the overall Mozilla revenue and war-chest... it's a critical strategy for Mozilla to diversify their revenue stream away from Firefox.

As it turns out, moving away from Firefox is exactly Mozilla's plan.

Earlier this year, Mozilla laid out their vision for the future of their organization -- and it did not include Firefox.  The focus for the future of Mozilla -- according to Mozilla -- is primarily based around Artificial Intelligence services.

In fact, Mozilla leadership stated, quite plainly, that they intend to take Mozilla "in a different direction."

When you consider the goals of Mozilla... the decreasing Firefox marketshare is no longer much of a concern.  In fact, moving revenue away from Firefox, while investing in A.I. systems (and other subscription services) becomes the primary goal.

And, at that, the Mozilla CEO is excelling.

The future of Mozilla

What does all of this mean for the future of Mozilla?  What have we learned from Mozilla statements coupled with their financial reports?

  • Mozilla rewards executives who oversee a decreasing success and reliance upon Firefox -- so we can expect more of that.
  • In turn, that likely means reduced investment in Firefox development and promotion over the coming years.
  • Mozilla intends to focus on A.I. -- so we can expect more A.I. investment, and possible A.I. services, in the year ahead.
  • If all of that holds true, we can likely expect the Mozilla CEO to receive additional raises in the next annual reports.

If you are a fan of Firefox... none of that points to a particularly bright future.

That said... if you are the CEO at Mozilla... you might bring in enough income to buy your own island fortress pretty soon.  And who doesn't want an island fortress?


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What was the first PDA?
It wasn't the Palm Pilot. Nor the Newton. Let's keep going back to find the answer...

It’s always fun to look at who was the “first” to do something amazing.

Who made the first computer shell? Who was the first computer programmer? What was the first smartphone?

Today, let’s ask another simple question: What was the first PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)?

What (exactly) is a PDA?

To figure this out, first we need to clearly define what a PDA actually is. While most of us can identify a PDA using the tried and true “I know one when I see one” approach, for historical purposes… we need to be a little more scientific about it.

Here is the official, Lunduke Journal Approved (tm) definition of “PDA”.

PDA - [ pē′dē-ā ]

Short for personal digital assistant. A lightweight, handheld computer, which can fit in a large pocket, generally used for storing information such as addresses or schedules.

Using this definition means we can include many different form factors — including the classic “handheld, touchscreen” style (such as the Palm Pilots), as well as the “palmtops” (such as the HP LX or Jornadas).

They key is that it is “handheld”, “pocket sized”, and a “computer”. And, of course, it must “assist” the user in some way. Storing notes, contacts, or appointments. Running custom software. That sort of thing.

But, and here is a key bit, calculators don’t count. The PDA must be, first and foremost, a computer.

It came before the 1990s

Many people believe that the Palm Pilot was the first PDA. Arriving on the scene in 1996… it was, in fact, far from the first.

Others (including Time Magazine) proclaim the Apple Newton, released in 1992, to be the first PDA.

Also, wrong. The Tandy Zoomer beat the Apple Newton to market by quite a wide margin. Yet that device is also not the first PDA.

Fun Historical Side-Note: Even though the Apple Newton was not the first device of this type (not by a long-shot)… Apple has the distinction of having coined the term “Personal Digital Assistant.” Apple CEO, John Sculley, made the first public usage of the phrase during a January 7, 1992 presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

1989’s Atari Portfolio? Surely that would be the first? It was made in the ‘80’s for Pete’s sake!

Nope. It wasn’t that one either.

Was it 1984’s Psion Organizer?

In 1984, the UK software company, Psion, made the jump into hand-held computers with the “Organizer”.

It had a distinctly “Calculator-like” look to it… but was most definitely a full computer.

The Psion Organizer from the November, 1984 issue of BYTE.

Note the full keyboard (with the letters laid out alphabetically instead of QWERTY). Even had a “Space” key.

The Organiser was powered by an HD6301X — an 8-Bit CPU that was a variant of the Motorola 6800 — clocking in at a whopping 0.9 MHz. Yes. Zero-point-9.

2KB of RAM, 4KB of ROM, and a single row (alpha-numeric) LCD.

Psion went so far as to declare the Organiser to be “The world’s first practical pocket computer.”

One extra cool bit: The Organiser had small memory cards — dubbed the “DATAPAKS” — which acted as removable storage.

These “DATAPAKS” were truly fascinating. They came in two versions — 8KB or 16KB — and were “Ultra-Violet-Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory”. These cards were “write-once”. Meaning you could write data to the card… and then that data cannot be easily deleted.

Want to erase your DATAPAK and start it over from a clean slate? That’s where the “Ultra-Violet-Erasable” part comes in. You could take in your used DATAPAKS to a Psion dealers, who were supplied with an “ultra violet eraser”, and they could (effectively) wipe the data off your cards.

The 4KB of ROM on the Organizer did not include much in the way of any real operating system. Simply small applications (a clock, a calculator, and a flat database).

That said, additional software was sold on DATAPAKS — including a programming language known as “POPL”, and various math and finance tools written in the POPL language.

From the Psion Organiser brochure.

Impressive! Fascinating! Weird! And while it lacked some of the features of later PDAs… it definitely counts as one!

But… was it the first? Nope. Definitely not.

How about 1980’s Tandy Pocket Computer?

Let’s go all the way back to July of 1980.

Empire Strikes Back and Caddyshack were dominating the box office and Funkytown ruled the airwaves.

And a little company called Tandy released the TRS-80 Pocket Computer (also known as the “Sharp PC-1211”).

This little, hand-held beauty was powered by two 4-Bit CPUs (the SC43177 and the SC43178) clocking in at 256 kHz. That’s 1/4 of a MHz.

1.5KB of RAM. A 24 character LCD screen. A QWERTY keyboard plus a 10-key number pad. Full BASIC programming language, built-in. Which made it easy to make it do… just about whatever you wanted.

All with a battery life of between 200 and 300 hours. Seriously.

There was, however, no permanent form of memory storage. For that you needed to purchase a cassette interface (which was pretty common among various computers of the time).

Considering this beast came out in 1980, it is surprisingly svelte. Weighing only 6 ounces (roughly the weight of an iPhone) and — while not super tiny — it is small enough to fit in a large coat pocket. (You definitely won’t be putting the Pocket Computer in your jeans, however.)

Despite the limitations… it definitely qualifies as a PDA.

The Conclusion!

After careful consideration, The Lunduke Journal is prepared to declare a winner in our search for the world’s first PDA…

The Radio Shack / Tandy TRS-80 Pocket Computer.

It is, without question, the first computer to meet our definition of a “PDA”. And, besides that, it is simply a really cool little computer.

However…

Because the universe is never quite as cut and dried as we’d like it to be, what follows are a conclusive list of “firsts” within the PDA world.

  • The 1st PDA ever — 1980’s Tandy Pocket Computer

  • The 1st PDA with built-in long-term storage — 1984’s Psion Organiser

  • The 1st PDA that looked and acted like a modern PDA — 1992’s Tandy Zoomer

  • The 1st PDA to actually use the term “PDA” — 1992’s Apple Newton

  • The 1st PDA that was also a cell phone — 1994’s IBM Simon

There you go. Now, if you see someone say something like “the first PDA was the Apple Newton”… you can set them straight. (I’m looking at you, Time Magazine.)

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The Tandy Zoomer -- The x86 PDA before the Palm Pilot
A 1992 handheld, with multitasking, that could access AOL. Wild.

The 1996 release of the first Palm Pilot was, in the minds of many, the first truly successful launch of a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). But the seeds of the Palm Pilot were planted several years earlier.

In fact the company behind the Palm Pilot, “Palm Computing Inc.”, was founded back in 1992 for the sole purpose of creating software for another just released PDA… the Tandy Zoomer.

The Tandy Zoomer

Also known as the “Tandy Z-PDA”, “Casio Z-7000”, and “AST GRiDpad” (all essentially the same hardware sold by different brands) was a truly groundbreaking — and fascinating — device.

Fun fact: The name “Zoomer” was used as a shortened, slang-y version of “consumer”. Get it? “Conzoomer”? Seriously. That’s the reason behind the name.

The Zoomer (aka “Z-PDA”) with the address book. Note that fields can be ASCII text or doodles.

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