What Happens to Mozilla and its Deal with Yahoo?

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 26, 2016

In late 2014, many observers were flummoxed to see that Yahoo and Mozilla had announced a "strategic five-year partnership" agreement which would make Yahoo the primary search option for Firefox. Mozilla was up for renewal negotiations for its deal with Google, which had historically subsidized more than 90 percent of Mozilla's revenues, to the tune of more than $300 million per year at times. In return, for lots of money, Google got primary search placement in the Firefox browser over the years.

Last week, though, Verizon,announced its intention to purchase Yahoo for $4.8 billion. What are the implications for Mozilla and its deal? Here are the details.

Recode and the New York Times have reported that the 2014 Yahoo-Mozilla contract gave Mozilla the right to move to another search provider if Yahoo was sold.  Meanwhile, Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer, has noted that Verizon may be liable for partial payments even if Mozilla cuts ties to Yahoo and seeks another search provider.

In short, Mozilla has a lot of flexibility. Still, as Computerworld notes, there are some details that remain hazy, and Marissa Mayer was quoted as follows on a conference call:

"While we would certainly like to continue the partnership regardless of our strategic alternatives process, should Mozilla choose not to, our agreement does provide for certain mitigations, which would reduce our exposure. Ultimately, it remains in our mutual best interest to maintain a healthy path forward, and we do hope to do just that."

Going forward, Mozilla may be able to keep its browser more open and flexible with new ties to Verizon. It seems unlikely that Verizon would have designs on fundamentally altering Firefox.

Still, Mozilla is in the midst of some of the biggest shakeups in its history, and there could be more news on the deal front to come.