Generating revenue for TB and "What do we need money for"

Jb Piacentino jb at
Fri Oct 5 12:50:41 UTC 2012


I would like to make sure we're not going into false assumptions. I hear 
from many conversations saying there is a need to fund Thunderbird 
activities and would like to offer my perspective on the subject.

The thread started by Anne-Marie yesterday was meant to openly discuss
1 -  _why_ do we think we need money, in other words, to what purpose 
would this money be used.
2 -  identify possible revenue sources to support those needs.

Under the new governance model, Mozilla will fund a sufficient enough 
team of Mozilla employees to ensure Thunderbird
     1) is maintained safe and secure
     2) can receive community contributed innovations and integrate them 
in new releases.
Mozilla is not going to recruit additional people in this team, 
regardless of how much revenue can be generated by Thunderbird, if any.
[As a side note, the list of Module Owners must evolve to better reflect 
contributors participation and competencies. As this time, there are too 
many Module owners are employees: I am sure they are willing to step 
down in favor of volunteers, provided that there are recognized by their 
peers as competent for the mission.]

However, additional resources can be contributed by volunteers to 
maintain and evolve the product, at their own will, where they see fit 
for the project and entirely graciously: no compensation can be expected 
from Mozilla in return of those contributions.
But we all understand the limits of volunteering and that possibly, 
individual contributors need to be compensated for the time spent in 
contributing. Let's be clear: this is no longer volunteer work, but 
rather paid-for contributions. And we're interested in discussing this 
because  they might benefit Thunderbird evolution and encourage 

So from my perspective, this brings us down to two different kinds of 
paid-for contributions:

- Own initiative: Contributor is compensated for his/her contribution
One example is paid addons (and Anne-Marie is offering her help to 
explore distribution, transaction platforms...). Professional services 
such as support & deployment can be in this category. There might be 
other examples of own initiatives compensations but they don't spring to 
my mind. Thunderbird governance bodies (Module Owners & Release Drivers 
team) have no need to be involved in this, nor have they a say.

- Sponsored contribution: a certain feature development gets funded
a) To start with, let's say some community members (group of users, 
enterprise, government...) want to have a certain feature developed, and 
have managed to get funding for it. They might contract with Thunderbird 
developer(s) directly or through third party to develop it.Maybe there 
is a way for this group to contract with MoFo (Gerv?). Or, they may 
simply mobilize their own resources (in the case of governments or 
corporate contributions).
If the feature is to be contributed to Thunderbird core code, 
Thunderbird governance bodies (Module Owners & Release Drivers team) 
must be involved in their corresponding assignments.
b) Another situation may arise if the feature request comes from 
Thunderbird Governance bodies. I then assume they should be able to tap 
into the pot and contract with developer(s), in the same way as above.

That brings us talking about the pot and where does the money comes from 
(note: the pot is not used to fund Own Initiatives).

- In-app revenues:
Thunderbird has several partnerships in place designed to compensate 
commercial products distribution: Search, Email account provisionner and 
Filelink. For administrative reasons, as well as taking into 
consideration that since we're with these features we lack visibility on 
the revenue potential, this money must stay in Mozilla Corporation and 
kept aside for Thunderbird engagement activities: meetups, gears...

- Donations:
As Gerv confirmed, it is fairly easy to open a Thunderbird donation line 
at the Mozilla Foundation level. This money could be controlled by the 
Thunderbird Governance bodies (details tbd) and be used for Engagement 
and Sponsored contributions, as described above.

I hope this clarifies things and helps moving forward. As usual, this is 
open for discussion, questions and comments.


On 04/10/12 17:19, Anne-Marie Bourcier wrote:
> Hello,
> The discussion about money around Thunderbird is not closed yet and 
> time flies. By consequence, I've tried to regroup the 
> questions/discussions to help moving forward on this particular topic.
> The major question stays _"What do we need money for?" _and until we 
> can answer this clearly, we will not find any straightforward 
> directions amongst revenue sources described below.
> Once we have collectively figured this out, there are 3 potential 
> revenue sources:
> A) In app: the Community could generate revenues directly _within_ 
> Thunderbird and options are:
>   *     do a crowd-funding campaign leveraging Thunderbird property
>     with a dedicated tab or from the start page
>   *     doing an engagement campaign on Facebook, Twitter, our blog,
>     via press announcement....
>   *     or both
> => not that difficult to implement but where the money should go? 
> Mozilla Foundation or external organization... Community will have to 
> be clear upfront about the usage of this generated revenue in order to 
> craft the right crowd-funding message/commitment.
>   * Develop partners opportunities/affiliation programs ala YouSendIt
> => we know that the money goes to Mozilla Corp and will be allocated 
> to future TB Engagement programs accordingly, but we don't know WHO 
> will be the lead on this biz dev initiative.
> B) Outside funding (revenue or resources): we can address large 
> organizations like French Government (leveraging the recent Prime 
> Minister commitment to help Open Source initiative) or IBM in Germany 
> that have equipped large part of public organizations with Thunderbird...
>   * either we will get $$
>   * or we could get "sponsored manpower"
> => This option might bring significant resources to the Community but 
> will require patience and dedication. If contribution is money, the 
> question of what will it be used for has to be determined now. If this 
> is manpower, we should avoid that it will only be manpower that will 
> address specific large organization topics but rather work on 
> Community agreed projects.
> C) Facilitating some contributors long term engagement: the Community 
> is thinking about funding its own efforts by getting revenue from its work
>   * Get revenue from add-ons: it means setting-up a different market place
> => it should be do-able, solutions can be evaluated in a reasonable 
> timeframe.
>   * Get revenue from features development, support or specific QA test
>     tools development: Community could set-up a developers' market
>     place that would be accessible to large organizations.
> => it should be do-able, solutions can be evaluated in a reasonable 
> time-frame but the question of "what kind of features should be 
> funded, when to release, level of quality required to pass the drivers 
> test...." all of this has to be determined asap.
> Let me know if you see different forms of money generation but it 
> would be nice to start focusing on the "what do we need money for" 
> then moving forward on one or two solutions will be easier...
> AM
> -- 
> Anne Marie Bourcier
> Mozilla Thunderbird
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

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