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

“Many say the tech industry has lost its soul. Some even say it is impossible to improve. My response: We won’t know until we try together,” said Mozilla executive Director Mark Surman said in a blog post.

“Mozilla Ventures is all about promoting companies and products that put people before profits,” he continued. “And it’s about fueling enough of these companies and products that we can finally move the Internet in a better direction.”

According to Mozilla, its enterprise arm will initially invest in companies that protect privacy, decentralize digital power, build more trustworthy AI, and have great potential for business success. Companies that received initial investment from venture funds include:

  • Secure AI Labs (SAIL), which uses advanced security and AI technology to protect patient data and advance medical collaboration. It aims to advance bioinformatics research and innovation with a platform that allows faster, more secure access to data.
  • Block Party, a social media safety app designed to address the realities of online harassment. It allows individuals who regularly experience harassment to safely engage in public conversations on social media by setting their own content limits.
  • Heylogin, a ‘swipe-to-login’ password management solution designed for businesses. Aimed primarily at SMEs, the app charges a per-user fee and allows businesses to share passwords and manage personal accounts.

Is Rome burning?

While Mozilla cites some lofty goals for its new venture, how it meets those goals may require closer scrutiny, said Mark N. Venna, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif. Maintained.

“While this effort can be at a high level, I am always skeptical about initiatives like this to fund ‘responsible’ startups, as those who define ‘responsible’ mean may have an agenda. is or may not really be objective,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

“The reporting I’ve seen doesn’t share much about what the process is and who specifically will be part of the selection process,” he said, “but I worry it will be too agenda-driven.” ‘Responsible’ as that word requirement is ambiguous and means different things to different individuals.”

“I think the comment that ‘the tech industry has lost its soul’ is an exaggeration,” he said.

“Sure, there are serious dealings in social media and a select few tech companies, but I’m not sure that such over-the-top statements help the situation and come across to many individuals in a non-supportive ‘Rome is burning’ way.” Huh. .”

A question for insiders

Has the tech industry lost its soul? “The cynical in me wants to answer, ‘Which spirit?’ But Realist says that even if the soul of the industry is not destroyed, the spirit of today’s users and what they expect from their experiences needs to be taken seriously,” said Liz Miller, vice president and head of Constellation Research said analyst. technology research and advisory firm in Cupertino, Calif.

“For Mozilla, from the outset, their spirit has been associated with equal access to privacy, identity and opportunities balanced by the ethical use of technology,” Miller told TechNewsWorld. “Their stand has always been that the smaller player deserves as much stake in the digital opportunity as anyone else.”

“So from that vantage point,” she continued, “the soul of individual sovereignty and respected identity may very well be seen as having been lost.”

Whether the tech industry has lost its spirit is one of the questions that inside observers tend to think about, said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology consulting firm in New York City.

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

“TikTok became wildly popular because it was a more fun entertainment experience than Instagram,” he explained. “Firefox, on the other hand, has a better privacy protection message than its competitors, but that’s not enough to overcome its competitors’ pre-bundling.”

too little too late?

In the past, the open-source community focused on what felt appropriate and left those online mining customers alone for information and money. “But that has changed,” observed Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“Mozilla is using its limited funds to help run Counter-Revolution,” Enderle told TechNewsworld. “I hope it’s too little and too late.”

“Thirty-five million dollars isn’t a lot of money,” he said, “and if they spread it as little as they likely would, it might just be a waste of money.”

“Mozilla is not set up to be a VC,” he argued. “The organization lacks the business basic skills that make good VCs successful.”

He said Mozilla isn’t the only one focusing on online privacy concerns.

“PC and consumer companies, including Apple and Samsung, have been successfully focusing on those messages for some time, as have some social media alternatives,” Enderle said.

“Hardware companies have had some success, but paid social media company efforts haven’t had as much success,” he continued. “People think free is better than private.”

imagine a better net

To lead its venture operations, Mozilla has named Mohammed Nanabhai, who has held leadership positions at Al Jazeera and the Media Development Investment Fund.

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

“That’s why we are starting Mozilla Ventures – to build an ecosystem of entrepreneurs from around the world who are building companies that build a better internet,” he continued.

“We want to support the founders who are working on the many challenges we face online – from misinformation to censorship, from security to privacy, and the potential to cause immediate and massive harm,” he said. “These issues are too important to leave for any one institution to resolve.”

Mozilla Ventures is expected to officially launch in early 2023.

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