Mozilla, creators of the popular Firefox browser, has launched a venture capital fund to finance startups which it deems to be ‘responsible’ in their technological activities.
Mozilla Ventures will be reserved for seed and series A startups who meet the company’s ethical criteria, as set out in its Mozilla Manifesto, which looks for tech firms and investors who respect the principles of “privacy, inclusion, transparency, and human dignity”.
Initially, a pool of $35 million will be made available for the program, sourced from the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the company. Managing partner Mohamed Nanabhay, the former deputy CEO of the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), will be heading the fund.
“Industry has lost its soul”
Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director, described the modern tech industry as having “lost its soul”, and highlighted the importance of supporting a large number of new companies in order to “ultimately push the internet in a better direction.”
Nanabhay echoed these sentiments, saying, “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 harm instantaneously and at scale. These issues are too important to leave to any one institution to solve.”
The first round of funding will be reserved for online companies that protect user privacy, feature decentralized processes and trustworthy AI. The rest of the fund will be distributed early in 2023.
Three companies have already received funding so far: Secure AI Labs (SAIL), who use AI to power collaboration and secure data in the medical field; Block Party, whose aim is to prevent online harassment by allowing users to filter social media content; and Hey Login, a passwordless password manager specifically designed for businesses.
Mozillia is yet to confirm the value of the next stage of funding or how it will work. It says it is working with numerous investors and experts to determine this, one of which is the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) advisory firm Lucid Capitalism, which will be working with Nanabhay on its design.