Baker explains that although AOL contributed assets, it doesn’t govern any part of the foundation. “We selected board members from the open source community…to promote a healthy ecosystem of innovation on the web, and a whole range of things aimed at public benefit,” Baker says.
Judging from the number of downloads (roughly 100 million) and regular users (about 40 million) since it was released in 2004, Firefox 1.0 has been true to its mission. Even more impressively, the browser has been marketed almost entirely at the grassroots level. Spreadfirefox.com is the browser’s Internet advertising home. In the coming days, Mozilla plans to launch Firefox Flicks on the site, featuring 30-second video testimonials from users about how the browser has made the Internet a better place.
Marketing Firefox in this user-focused way has created a sense of community, not just for those who design add-ons or find glitches in the system, but also less technology-oriented Internet surfers. This wide community is also a crucial source of funding for the Mozilla Foundation, according to Baker. Many donors attach personal notes to their checks, she says. “They say things like ‘I was afraid of my computer. Life on the Internet was terrible. My friend insisted I install Firefox. Thank you. Here’s my $25, keep at it.’”