Mozilla hits pause on crypto donations following backlash

The Mozilla Foundation is pausing the ability to accept donations in cryptocurrencies following a backlash from scores of people, including a founder of the Mozilla Project.

The foundation, which oversees the development of the Firefox browser, on Thursday acknowledged conversations around the environmental impact that cryptocurrencies potentially pose and said it is reviewing whether its current policy on crypto donations “fits with our climate goals.”

“Decentralized web technology continues to be an important area for us to explore, but a lot has changed since we started accepting crypto donations,” the foundation said in a tweet thread, pledging to be forthcoming about the updates of its review.

The foundation started to face backlash after it invited people to donate to the American nonprofit firm via using a variety of crypto tokens, including bitcoin.

In response to its tweet, Jamie Zawinski (a founder of Mozilla) expressed dismay at the foundation’s move. “Everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters,” he said, adding an expletive.

Peter Linss, the founder of Gecko, the engine that powered the browser, joined the conversation in telling Mozilla that it was “meant to be better than this.”

This isn’t the first time a major firm has faced backlash — or distanced itself from Bitcoin — because of environmental concerns. In May last year, Tesla suspended accepting bitcoin as payment for its vehicles, just months after introducing the option.

Musk said the firm was “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal.” Weeks later, he said the company will “most likely” accept bitcoin again once the mining rate for the cryptocurrency reaches 50% renewables.

Questions around the environmental footprint of Bitcoin have been linked to how various tokens are created. Bitcoin and Ethereum use a mechanism called proof-of-work to power their networks and mint new blocks of each currency. This calculation, by design, has become more complex over the years as the networks grew and gave birth to an industry of firms that run thousands of GPUs around the clock to participate in solving the puzzle.

Bitcoin mining consumes about 148 terawatt-hours of energy annually, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance estimates. Many cryptocurrency proponents have, however, either disputed such findings or have made a case for why it is worth it.

In recent months, a broader divide has started to emerge in the industry. The critics have challenged some of the fundamental value proposition of web3. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who supports Bitcoin, has dismissed the assertion that VCs aren’t reaping most profits from web3 projects.

Amid the ongoing discourse, many firms have scaled back their web3 ambitions. Discord pushed pause on exploring crypto and NFTs in November following outcry from many who opposed the idea. Gaming firm GSC Game World cancelled its plan to include NFTs in its upcoming title “STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl” after several gamers offered strong feedback.