There are some details we should clear up in a further post (some of the mechanics are a little mis-stated in Blodget’s postings), but I want to focus on the intent. First, there’s no presumption that for-profit (or, more properly, non-tax-exempt) entities are bad and non-profits are good. As Henry suggests, that’s a ridiculous, naive position to take. I’ve been parts of many for profit companies and think that there are many who do incredibly important things for their shareholders and the world. Absolutely. But the reason that we’re non-tax-exempt in the Mozilla Corporation is so that we can properly pay taxes, not to maximize profits.
My argument (and Mitchell’s) is much simpler and more elemental: we’ve said before many times that Mozilla’s mission — keeping the Internet open and participatory — is the most important thing for us to pursue, full stop. Mitchell’s blogged at length on the Mozilla Manifesto — and that Manifesto is the covenant that the Mozilla project — encompassing the Foundation, the Corporation, and more — has made with the community. Like any organization, we’re imperfect, but in intent and in daily practice, we measure ourselves against the Manifesto, and we believe, for all the reasons that we’ve articulated, pursuit of these goals is best achieved as an independent company, with no shareholders who would conceivably want to focus on short-term (or even long-term) profits instead of the public benefit mission.
In any event, this is an interesting discussion (if unexpected on the third day of the new year) to be having — and I hope that it starts a broader conversation about what ways we can best achieve the goals in the Manifesto.