The Foundation wants to "give back" to the open-source community it depends upon.
Not 20 years ago, Mozilla was itself the eager young open-sourcer scrambling for income, often unsuccessfully. In those early years, the plan was to sell its Mozilla Application Suite, an open-source version of Netscape Navigator, to Netscape and Netscape's corporate parent, AOL. When that didn't work out, it instead offered up its browser wares to the public directly, becoming the mostly Google-funded household name we know today.
The Mozilla Foundation has had a grant program in place for many years intended to fund open-source projects, but, on Friday, CEO Mitchell Baker announced "a new level of support" in the form of $1,000,000 in awards to be distributed among 10 to-be-determined open-source projects by Dec. 12.
"The Mozilla Open Source Support program is designed to recognize and celebrate communities who are leading the way with open source projects that contribute to our work and the health of the Web," Baker writes in a brief announcement. "It encompasses both: a) a 'give back' element for open source and free software projects that Mozilla relies on; and b) a 'give forward' component for supporting other projects where financial resources from Mozilla can make our entire community more successful. We'll give more specific names to these components as we go forward. The Mozilla Open Source Support program will also encompass a component supporting increased attention to the security of open source and free software programs."
The initial 10 projects will be part of the "give back" part, Baker explains. The precise terms of the program are still being formulated and members of the open-source community are invited to offer suggestions here. Meanwhile, the Foundation is compiling a list of all of the open-source projects it depends upon here (which is interesting in and of itself).
"I am reminded regularly of how deeply Mozillians identify open source and free software as a critical element of an open Internet and healthy, trustworthy online experiences," Baker says. "I am excited to build a program that helps us bring concrete support to this worldview. You are the key to making this program great—to identifying great projects, to helping figure out what engagement from Mozilla would make a meaningful difference and to deepening Mozilla's connections with our open source and free software compatriots."
If you're curious, in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, Mozilla took in around $314 million in revenue.