A while back we announced that we were starting to look for a new CEO for the Mozilla Corporation as John Lilly moves to Greylock Partners sometime later this year. Here’s an update of what’s going on.
First, there are a lot of exceptional people interested in Mozilla. Mozilla is in an exciting and challenging place. There’s a lot to do, the opportunities in front of us are immense, and the need for excellent leadership and execution is as great as it has ever been. Firefox on the desktop is strong and effective, we’re moving into the mobile space (Firefox Home for iPhone release this month, Firefox browser on Android phones coming later this year), Sync in Firefox 4 and related services in development. The Internet environment is changing, and Mozilla has a unique role.
Second, we know that a great CEO needs a combination of a bunch of different characteristics, such as:
- great executive skills — able to cause us to get things done, to get the right things done, and to get them done effectively and efficiently
- able to lead in a complex strategic environment
- collaborative, good at making others better
- great technology sense
- and of course, phenomenally attuned to the nature of Mozilla — who we are, why we do things, the centrality of the mission and the community building it
We decided to start by getting to know people across a wide range of backgrounds skill sets. We’re fortunate that we have flexibility and aren’t pushed into making a hasty decision so we can do this. This means that our recruiters are talking to people with software backgrounds, Internet backgrounds, consumer backgrounds, open source backgrounds, platform backgrounds, engineering, strategy, start-up, big company and community backgrounds. The recruiters and John also spend a lot of time working together, and John has talked to a broad set of people as well.
A few people have been surprised that John is so central to this process. I think that’s because it’s a bit rare to let the world know what’s happening at this stage. Often the first hint is the announcement of a new CEO, or that the old CEO is gone. In our case John is still here, still deeply engaged day-to-day and still our CEO in fact as well as name. He’s also the person closest to the CEO role and so a really good source for the candidates and recruiters.
The next step in the transition process is to bring a much smaller number of people in to meet members of the MoCo Steering Committee — the management and leadership and strategy group for our product efforts, and if that goes well, to expand the number of people a candidate meets from there. We’re still in the very early stages of this part of the process. Members of the Steering Committee have met a handful of people and we expect to meet more in the coming weeks. So far this step has helped us figure out that a few candidates don’t fit, and some we’re quite eager to talk to more. It’s hard to predict what the right set of traits will turn out to be; the search is highly individualistic. John is fond of saying that he wouldn’t have looked like a particularly good candidate on paper either. That’s in part why we want to meet a wide variety of people.