Alternative Browser 'Waterfox' Acquired By System1

Waterfox is an open-source web browser for x64, ARM64, and PPC64LE systems, “intended to be speedy and ethical, and maintain support for legacy extensions dropped by Firefox, from which it is forked,” according to Wikipedia. (Its tabs also still have angled sides with rounded corners.)

Friday Waterfox’s original creator, 24-year-old Alexandros Kontos, announced that the browser “now has funding and a development team, so Waterfox can finally start to grow!” after its acquisition by a company called System1.

I started Waterfox when I was 16. It was a way for me to understand how large software projects worked and the Mozilla documentation was a great introduction… I’ve touted Waterfox as an ethical and privacy friendly browser… I never wanted Waterfox to be a part of the hyper-privacy community. It would just feel like standards that would be impossible to uphold, especially for something such as a web browser on the internet. Throughout the years people have always asked about Waterfox and privacy, and if they’ve ever wanted more than it can afford, I’ve always pushed them to use Tor. Waterfox was here for customisations and speed, with a good level of privacy…

I wasn’t doing anything with Waterfox except developing it and making some money via search. Why I kept going throughout the years, I’ll never know… System1 has been to Waterfox a search syndication partner. Essentially a way to have a search engine partnership (such as Bing) is through them, because companies such as Microsoft are too big and too busy to talk to small players such as Waterfox… It’s probably the one easy way a browser can make money without doing anything dodgy, and it’s a way I’ve been happy to do it without having to compromise Waterfox (and will be the same way System1 makes money from Waterfox – nothing else). People also don’t seem to understand what System1 does…

“Now I can finally focus on making Waterfox into a viable alternative to the big browsers,” Kontos concludes.

Long-time Slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed contextualized the news with this brief history of the alternate browser ecosystem:

As the usage share of web browsers continues to show a lopsideded dominance by Google Chrome, many previously-independent browsers have fallen by the wayside or have been reinvented as Chrome variants (i.e. Opera, Edge, Brave). Apple forges on with its Safari browser while other, smaller projects tend to be quite limited for multi-platform users, such as Dolphin and Bromite.

Mozilla continues independently with Firefox for almost every platform, while variants such as Pale Moon and Sea Monkey have attempted to provide products that avoid drastic and/or controversial changes made by Mozilla but sometimes do not match the multi-platform support of Firefox. Let us not forget Tor, the Firefox-based anonymity-focused browser.

Alex Kontos is a developer who attempted to provide continuity with dropped Firefox capabilities in his multi-platform Waterfox browser, proudly declaring that Firefox’s user data sharing and telemetry collection was not included. For that privacy focus a certain popularity of Waterfox occurred. Now Kontos has revealed that his Waterfox project has been sold to System1, a company describing itself as “a consumer internet and applications company with the most powerful audience expansion platform in the industry.”