A $100 Million Investment to Reshape the Economics of the Web

By Mozilla | September 16, 2019

Coil, Mozilla, and Creative Commons have launched Grant for the Web, an ambitious initiative to empower individual creators and galvanize an alternative business model for online content

Independent creators on today’s web face a number of challenges, from omnipotent platforms, to opaque recommendation algorithms, to an underlying business model that rewards clicks, not quality.

So today, Coil, Mozilla and Creative Commons are launching a major project to reshape the economics of the web. Funded and led by Coil in collaboration with Mozilla and Creative Commons, Grant for the Web is a $100 million fund to empower individual creators, galvanize open-standard monetization service providers, and allow users to directly support content they value.

Grant for the Web uses open technology and direct funding to promote alternative online business models for content — and a healthier internet. Awards will promote open-source content and content monetization infrastructure, placing $100 million in the hands of developers and independent creators. Here’s how it works:

  • Over the course of five years, the Grant for the Web program will disburse $100 million to individuals, projects, and global communities that contribute to a privacy-centric, open, and accessible web monetization ecosystem
  • Grant for the Web will create space for new ideas and collaborations to flourish. Examples of awards include projects that allow content creators the financial freedom to move away from advertising and data mining and applications that use the Web Monetization standard to build new functions into streaming payments
  • Awardees will be approved by an Advisory Council initially made up of representatives from Coil, Mozilla, and Creative Commons. Award amounts will vary from small to large, depending on the scope of the project
  • Special consideration will be given to creators who promote a vibrant commons; increase users’ autonomy, privacy, and control over their own data; promote diversity and inclusion on the internet; and increase access to the full capacity of the internet, both for content consumption and content creation, and for communities and individuals that have historically been marginalized, disadvantaged, or without access
  • The program is committed to awarding at least 50% of all grant dollars to proposed software projects and content projects that will be openly licensed

Says Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director:

“The web’s richness and diversity comes from its individual creators: writers, coders, musicians, podcasters, app makers, journalists. But in the current web ecosystem, big platforms and invasive, targeted advertising make the rules and the profit. Consumers lose out, too — they unwittingly relinquish reams of personal data when browsing content. That’s the whole idea behind ‘surveillance capitalism.’ Our goal in joining Grant for the Web is to support a new vision of the future. One where creators and consumers can thrive.”

Grant for the Web aims to:

  • Enable creators to be paid directly for their work — and in turn broaden participation on the web, including groups around the world that have historically had poor access
  • Protect privacy by creating alternatives for web monetization that are not dependent on collecting consumer data like browsing history
  • Lower the administrative costs of receiving payment for web content by creating an open payment ecosystem that enables competition among payment providers
  • Incentivize innovation on the web by making it possible to be paid for content that is currently not monetized or is monetized at very low rates
  • Invest in the creation of open content and open-source software
  • Give creators and consumers the ability to use any currency, and eliminate payment silos that lock them in or force them to hold multiple accounts

Grant for the Web is funded by Coil, with Mozilla and Creative Commons as founding collaborators.

This project complements Mozilla’s work to maintain the internet as a global public resource. In our 2019 Internet Health Report, Mozilla interrogated the current digital advertising ecosystem and investigated solutions. “What really needs rethinking today is the notion that digital ads can only be effective when they are targeted, and when companies know everything about everyone,” we wrote. Meanwhile, Mozilla Fellows like Dave Gehring are researching the economics of online publishing. And our advocacy work fights for a web free from misinformation and invasion of privacy.