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ICMR Center for Management Research

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Open Source Innovation at Mozilla Corporation

This case was written by V.Namratha Prasad, under the direction of Vivek Gupta, ICMR Center for Management Research (ICMR). It was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation.
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Open Source Innovation at Mozilla Corporation

“ ...Firefox is only a part of what’snecessary for the Internet to remain open and participatory. Firefox needs to remain strong enough and innovative enough that we ’re able to continue to show the industry that you can give people control or choice in an elegant manner and still be a professional vendor and that there are revenue opportunities in this.

“Baker and Mozilla are wrestling with new questions about the boundaries betweencommunities and the corporation. She’s creating a new management model based on engaging a business ecosystem. ”2

Siobhan O’ Mahony, Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, in February 2007.


On January 21, 2010, Mozilla Corporation (Mozilla) launched the latest version of its popular Web browser - Firefox 3.6. According to the company, when compared to the previousversions, the new version had several novel features and was faster and more responsive, apart from being retooled to work on small devices Over the years, Mozilla had won several awards for its innovations including ‘Browser of the Year’ from the Linux community in 2009, American Business Award’s ‘Most Innovative Company’ in 2008, and InfoWorld’s ‘Best of Open Source Software’ Award in 2008.Founded in 2005, the US-based Mozilla was the for-profit subsidiary of the non-profit organization — Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla was considered to be a major force in the field of open source innovation. The company provided the source code of its software and invited developer communities consisting of both individuals and large companies to develop new functionalities and software products. It alsorecruited the services of the developer community to test its products, detect bugs, and offer areas of improvement.
Analysts credited Mitchell Baker (Baker), the Chairman of Mozilla, with laying the ground rules for a complex organization like Mozilla, wherein most of the projects were extensively dependent on the outsiders. Baker helped define a functional model that took into account the diverseideas, needs, and opinions of the community, before making strategic decisions and afterward in executing projects. In addition, she designed process frameworks and maintained the financial viability of the projects.
Over the years, Mozilla launched several software products. The Firefox browser, which was first launched in late 2004, emerged as its most successful product. Through Firefox, thecompany introduced several innovative features in browsing, like the ability to accept add-on customizations, tabbed browsing, pop-up ad blocking, etc. Most analysts observed that when compared to the dominant Web browser - Microsoft Corporation’s (Microsoft)3 Internet Explorer (IE) - Firefox offered higher security against spyware, malware, and hacking. David Michaux, CEO of ScanIT4, said,...
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