Mozilla invests $35 million to save the soul of high technology | Media Pyro


Mozilla believes that the high-tech industry has lost its soul by putting profit before people, and is going to try to do something about it. He announced Mozilla Ventures, a $35 million venture capital fund to fund early-stage startups building products and technologies that advance values ​​such as privacy, inclusivity, transparency, and human dignity.

“A lot of people say the tech industry has lost its soul. Some even say that it is impossible to make it better. My answer is that we won’t know unless we try together,” Mozilla CEO Mark Surman said in a blog post.

“Mozilla Ventures is about supporting companies and products that put people before profits,” he continued. “And it’s about supporting enough of these companies and products so that we can ultimately push the Internet in a better direction.”

According to Mozilla, its venture arm will initially invest in companies that protect privacy, decentralize digital power, build more reliable AI and have great potential for commercial success. Companies receiving seed investment from a venture capital fund include:

  • Secure AI Labs (SAIL), which uses advanced security and artificial intelligence technology to protect patient data and improve healthcare collaboration. It aims to advance bioinformatics research and innovation through a platform that provides faster and safer access to data.
  • Block Party, a social media safety app designed for the realities of online harassment. It allows individuals who experience regular harassment to safely engage in public conversations on social media while setting their own content boundaries.
  • Heylogin, a swipe-to-login password management solution designed for businesses. Designed primarily for small and medium-sized businesses, the app charges per user and allows companies to manage shared passwords and individual accounts.

Is Rome burning?

While Mozilla is setting some lofty goals for its new venture, it may need to take a closer look at how it’s achieving those goals, says Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, California.

“While commendable, although this initiative may be at a high level, I am always skeptical of such initiatives to fund ‘responsible’ startups, as the people defining what ‘responsible’ means may have an agenda or may not be truly objective” ,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

“The reports I’ve seen don’t go into a lot of detail about what the process is and who specifically will be involved in the selection process,” he continued, “but I’m concerned that it will be very much an agenda-driven requirement of ‘responsible ” because the term is vague and means different things to different people.”

“I think the comment that ‘the tech industry has lost its soul’ is a bit of an overstatement,” he added.

“Of course there is egregious behavior on social media and some tech companies, but I’m not sure that over-the-top statements like this are contributing to the situation and perceiving many people in an unhelpful ‘Rome is Burning’ way.” .”

Questions for insiders

Has the tech industry lost its soul? “The cynic in me wants to answer: ‘What kind of soul?’ but a realist says that while the soul of the industry can’t be lost, the soul of today’s users and what they expect from their experience needs a serious rebuilding,” said Liz Miller, vice president and chief analyst at Constellation Research, a technology research and consulting firm. firm in Cupertino, California.

“For Mozilla, from the beginning, their soul has been about privacy, identity and the ethical use of technology from fair access to balanced capabilities,” Miller told TechNewsWorld. “Their position has always been that the small player deserves as much of a share of the digital opportunity as anyone else.”

“Thus, from this point of view,” she continued, “the soul of personal sovereignty and cherished identity can be said to be entirely lost.”

“Has the tech industry lost its soul is one of those questions that insiders are pondering,” added Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology consulting firm in New York.

“Most consumers focus on utility and whether something does something better than something else,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“TikTok became extremely popular because it was a more immersive entertainment experience than Instagram,” he explained. “On the other hand, Firefox has better privacy protections than its competitors, but it’s not enough to beat its competitors’ previous packages.”

Too little too late?

In the past, the open source community focused on what it saw fit and left alone those who sought out online clients for information and money. “But that has changed,” noted Rob Enderle, president and chief analyst at the Enderle Group, a consulting firm in Bend, Ore.

“Mozilla is using its limited resources to promote a counter-revolution,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “I think it’s both too little and too late.”

“Thirty-five million dollars is not a lot of money,” he said, “and if they spread it out piecemeal, as they probably will, it might just be a waste of money.”

“Mozilla is not built to be venture capital,” he argued. “The organization lacks the set of business fundamentals that make good VCs successful.”

He added that Mozilla is not alone in focusing on Internet privacy issues.

“Computer and consumer companies, including Apple and Samsung, have successfully focused on these messages for some time, as have some alternative social media outlets,” Enderle said.

“Hardware companies have had some success, but the efforts of paid social media companies have not been as successful,” he continued. “People seem to like free more than private.”

Imagine a better network

Mozilla appointed Mohamed Nanabhai, who held senior positions at Al Jazeera and the Media Development Investment Fund, as head of its venture operations.

“Many of us cannot imagine life without the Internet. But are we ready to imagine life with a better Internet for all of us?” Nanabhai asked in a statement.

“That’s why we’re starting Mozilla Ventures — to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurs from around the world who are building companies that make the Internet better,” he continued.

“We want to support founders who are working on the many challenges we face online—from misinformation to censorship, security to privacy, and the ability to do harm instantly and at scale,” he added. “These issues are too important to be left to a single institution.”

The official launch of Mozilla Ventures is planned for early 2023.


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