In making the disclosure, Mozilla, the for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, was responding to a report that the company has taken in $72 million, primarily through Google Inc.'s search box on the right-hand corner of the browser.
"The amount isn't accurate but isn't off by an order of magnitude either," Mitchell Baker, chief executive of Mozilla Corp., said in an email from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego. "Mozilla Corp. doesn't generally discuss the amount of revenue generated or the specific details of our partnership agreements, as these agreements are confidential in nature."
The report in the blog of Jason McCabe Calacanis, chief executive of blogging network Weblogs Inc., said Mozilla gets a cut whenever someone clicks on a sponsored link displayed in search results.
Even though Mozilla Corp. is a commercial company, many of the developers contributing to Firefox are volunteers. The grassroots effort behind the open-source browser has been the key driver behind its success in the market, where some experts say it holds more than a 10 percent share. Much of its growth has come at the expense of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, which dominates the market.
Christopher Blizzard, a board member of the Mozilla Corp., said in a company blog that despite the revenue, money remained a lower priority to Mozilla than user experience and distribution of the browser.
"Money is just a tool," Blizzard said, enabling the company to employ the engineers, marketers and other people needed to run the business.
Because the foundation is the sole shareholder of the company, there are no investors looking for a hefty return, he said.
"Money is one of the last things we worry about and people shouldn't get hung up on the numbers, except to realize that it gives us options," Blizzard said.