Archive for May 24th, 2007

Search Process for Executive Director

May 24th, 2007

I’m working on defining a search process for the Mozilla Foundation Executive Director. I’ve put an outline of my thinking so far in the mozilla.governance newsgroup, as that seems a better place for discussion. Take a look if you are interested in this topic.

Community, Foundation, Corporation

May 24th, 2007

Chris Beard’s recent post on being “knowable” helped crystallize some thoughts that have been running through my head, trying to find some form for expression.

These thoughts have been on the nature of “community” and its role in Mozilla. Sometimes I hear people talk about the Mozilla Foundation and/or the Mozilla Corporation as somehow distinct from the Mozilla community. I see things like “the Foundation and the community” or the “corporation and the community.” Even more pronounced, sometimes people tie the product — say Firefox, to either the foundation or the corporation, and then talk about the community as something different. Or they tie Firefox to the Corporation and view the Foundation and community as different, or separate, or outside of Firefox.

I think this overstates the role of legal structure and underestimates the fundamental role of community in all we do. The Mozilla community is not separate from Firefox or from any of the other activities in which Mozilla engages. The Mozilla organizations — Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla Corporation, Mozilla Europe, Mozilla Japan, Mozilla China — have special responsibilities related to the resources they manage (Mozilla name and goodwill, infrastructure, revenue). These assets need to be managed for community benefit; the responsibilities need to be fulfilled as a member of the community, with two-way input and communication. None of these organizations can be successful by operating in a traditional sense.

This brings me back to Chris Beard’s blog. (Yes, there is a tie 🙂 ) Chris mentioned the problem that the word “corporation” has history and meaning that get in the way of people understanding Mozilla. People hear the word “Corporation” and then associate the Mozilla Corporation with other taxable corporations rather than thinking of the Mozilla Corporation as one of many tools for accomplishing the Mozilla vision.

This is unfortunate. We formed the Mozilla Corporation as a tool for accomplishing the Mozilla mission of an open and innovative Internet. It operates to promote the public benefit. It does not operate on standard for-profit principles. The Mozilla community (including those community members who are employees of the foundation and/or corporation) would not allow it to do so.

Our best estimates are that between 30 and 40% of the code in Firefox 2 was created by people who are not employees of any Mozilla organization. That’s a giant amount, particularly because we’ve hired a bunch of long time Mozilla contributors recently, and still the amount of code from non-employees is around a third of the product. Then there are the thousands of people who participate in related activities — testing, localizing, evangelizing — that develop and promote Firefox. There are also vibrant communities focused around other Mozilla activities, from Seamonkey to the Mozilla platform.

This set of people — volunteers and employees alike — is the heart of Mozilla, the life that makes us real and gives us impact. This community does not form to support a standard corporate endeavor. It forms to support the Mozilla mission. The legal organizations of the Mozilla world exist for the same reason. They are organizational centers to help the greater Mozilla community be more effective.

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