Layoffs hit Mozilla as it shifts its focus

Mozilla’s push to grow beyond browsers hit a major hurdle this week as the Firefox-maker dissolved its Connected Devices initiative, laying off what CNET reports as around 50 people in the process.

The nonprofit org confirmed the layoffs with TechCrunch, though won’t comment on specific numbers. The move is a further sign of struggle for Mozilla, whose Firefox browser has seen a significant dip in market share over the past several years, taking a backseat to Google’s immensely popular Chrome browser.

Part of the company’s bid to stay relevant has been an expansion into other key categories, with the launch of products like Firefox OS, a mobile operating system designed to bring low cost handsets to developing markets. The Connected Devices initiative was part of that push, with a stated mission to,

Influence the design of the devices and protocols that make up the Internet of Things to ensure that they embody the values enumerated by the Mozilla manifesto, including openness, accessibility, decentralization, interoperability, security, privacy and individual empowerment.

A spokesperson told TechCrunch that, while the organization is still committed to the emerging IoT space, the company is changing its focus from commercial products to emerging technologies.

IoT is clearly an emerging technology space, but it’s still early. We have shifted our internal approach to the IoT opportunity to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our Connected Devices initiative and incorporating our IoT explorations into an increased focus on Emerging Technologies. This is much like our approach to Quantum which emerged from Servo/Rust.

The spokesperson adds that the organization is ultimately growing headcount and investment across Mozilla, including such categories as AR, VR and the aforementioned IoT. As part of the move, the Connected Devices team will shut down altogether, as the company continues an on-going shift away from commercialized IoT toward more forward-looking projects like Project Quantum.