Cover image for Mozilla's layoffs are bad news for developers

Mozilla's layoffs are bad news for developers

adamgreenough profile image Adam Greenough Originally published at webwide.io ・1 min read

You may have seen the awkward corporate speak announcement that Mozilla is exploring new revenue models and making 250 layoffs (around 25% of their workforce, on top of the 70 or so in January).

Changing World, Changing Mozilla

In their 250 layoffs was the entire MDN writers team, the Firefox dev tools team and what was left of their developer relations team. Apparently we're just not that important to Mozilla's mission! Frustrating as developers have often been their biggest advocates. I fear that Mozilla is far from the engineering-led organisation it once was.

Given this news, will you still continue to support the organisation? Has your opinion of Mozilla changed?


markdown guide

Lots! Building the only major competitor to Chromium/Webkit is important for standards. They contribute to web specs. They also run Pocket and Mozilla VPN. They founded the Rust programming language. They run the Mozilla Foundation which is a charity fighting for "privacy, inclusion, literacy, and all principles of a healthy internet".


The main thing I think Mozilla underestimates is just how massive the developer market cap really is. Cannibalizing some core teams (including DevTools!) while pitching a future built on Mozilla VPN/Pocket and product development is an insane lack of self awareness.


Oh no!!!

Even the "good" companies need to figure out how make money... damn it.

We use those MDN docs every day / and we share links to them every single day.

It's hard to get judgy about it - when they're the "good people" - so - curious what these other models are. We saw that 'facebook' container thing today... and the VPN thing seems solid.

How do they make money anyway?


Mozilla makes most of its money from companies paying to make their search engine the default in Firefox. This includes deals with Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, and most notably, Google in the US and most of the rest of the world.

Doesn't seem very fun. : /

In the big picture - this is the same problem everyone is having. There are two camps: make things and actually charge for them - and support them OR make something... hope people like it - and try and sell it - or monetize it with ads from the first camp. Even Dev.to suffers from this. Our content - is their value - and then that attention is monetized vs. the actual service. Everyone is in the "altruistic" stage of "I'm just making a cool thing!" - until they aren't.

The whole an alarming amount of internet is a trash sales system / or a flappy-bird / or just a rage machine designed to keep us unfocused. So, - it's probably a smart move for MDN to stand up and start 'doing something' that makes money - so that they can still exist... instead of just turning into another FAANG company who sucks the blood from our ankles, dismantles our economy, and then gives you free coffee and fruit-snacks to say sorry.

Not sure why they couldn't keep 10 people on the docs team.

If you aren't willing to pay for it - then it shouldn't exist.

At least some people think that w3schools is just fine ! YIkes!


Somewhere we made a joke about how w3schools must make more money... (But it was just a bad joke). If 250 people make ~100k.... then they'd cost 75m of that deal. OR 25,000 of us could just give the docs team $100?


For me, it makes it hard to support them but I'll reserve too much judgement until we see the fate of MDN and their other developer projects. It seems pretty assured that the previously awesome Firefox developer tools and developer edition won't be getting anywhere near as much love.

I completely appreciate that they need to make money somehow and will be keeping a keen eye on their future endeavours. It does not make this sting any less though.

If less developers use Firefox and as a result less testing is done in Firefox, resulting in more bugs in websites in Firefox, this will surely have an impact on the satisfaction of other end users. Perhaps they just don't see Firefox as their main priority now either?


I'm extremely disappointed, and I've been trying to keep a level head. It's been hard to not have knee-jerk reaction and jump ship because some the teams doing the coolest stuff are among the ones let go (Servo team is apparently gone). I'm feeling pretty cautious about Mozilla right now, and hope that they made a good choice. I hope they can right the ship and keep it floating.

I do wonder if/how this will affect rusts development as well. I did see a tweet bringing up that this could start a discussion on how the language is sponsored and might lead to Mozilla not being the "main" sponsor behind rust (at least in the long run), but that might be another discussion post.


Some time ago, MSFT partnered with MDN to collaborate on the docs about web development. Moving all their MSDN docs over to MDN so we could have one central place for all of it. What this layoff means for that, I don't know but maybe, as MSFT already owns GitHub, they could take ownership of MDN too?


Not just Microsoft, also Google and W3C [1]. MDN is the official documentation site for web standards.


Nice! So w3schools should actually be deprecated? It would be great if those links wouldn't appear in my web searches :)

W3Schools was never... uh... "apprecated" (?!) in the first place. It's never had any affiliation with W3C, which is a standards body.


This one truly makes me sad.

They had a rust power browser, rust itself, MDN, Firefox and the dev tools.

People don’t realize it but the dev tools in FF are better than chrome for a number of things, specifically HTML and CSS related.

I am deeply sad, but I feel the next step is in 5 years FireFox will be chromium as they can’t keep up... and that is a sad sad thought.

I know Jen Simmons went to Apple. I hope we start seeing more attention in WebKit and Safari so we have a chrome alternative.


I was sad to hear about this when it happened. The sad truth seems to be that everything needs a business model to justify it these days. Are we slowly losing those pioneer days of just doing things because we want to and sharing them with the World without having to justify to a bean counter somewhere?


Yes thank you, nice catch, updated. Even worse!


πŸ˜” Their dev tools are awesome. I hope there is a turn-around


Unless mozilla offers extra features for paid products, it is difficult to run complete development framework with increasing complexity in the security area. I believe soon they will not be able to keep up with security updates.

Good Documentation is what keeps the product alive, without MDN, Mozilla's product is nothing.


Its disappointing news covid is causing so many setbacks.


I don’t buy it had anything to do with the pandemic. Other tech companies are booming. Just a convenient excuse. Why should a company that provides technology tools be hit hard while more and more people are working from home relying on their own computers and setups to get stuff done? It’s not like Mozilla was really B2B. 90% of their income came from search engine deals and around half of their employees already worked remotely.


Well it depends now. Hope they reverse it.