Archive for December 6th, 2007

India Economic Summit

December 6th, 2007

Last year Mozilla was named a “Tech Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum. The Forum’s best-known event is its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, but it also conducts a series of gatherings and programs during the year. Last week I attended the WEF’s “India Economic Summit” in Dehli. It was a combination of large events, small panels and discussions, invitation only meetings based on topics and interactive sessions known as the “Workspace.” I attended a couple of special sessions related to technology. One was the WEF’s program on the “digital ecosystem” through which the WEF tries to outline possible views of the future economic landscape, from the walled garden to a world in which individual people have maximum control over their own digital lives. This last possible is called the “U-topia” and is very similar to the worldview Mozilla strikes to create. I found the analysis quite sophisticated, I was very glad to see this.

I also went to a Workspace event on innovation. I ended up in a subgroup on “Inclusive Innovation.” The discussion leader at our table was Anil Gupta, who seeks out interesting innovations in rural India. This was a fascinating session. Once again much of the thinking was very close to what we are trying to do at Mozilla. The discussion ended up talking about frameworks for helping people innovate, make their work known and find ways for other interested people to improve the developments and distribute them more broadly. It was fascinating to find a group of prominent and successful business people find their way to many of the principles that are important to us at Mozilla.

Very few people recognized “Mozilla.” Everyone recognized “Firefox.” And I mean everyone. The attendees include a set of prominent India business people — usually the CEOs and one or two other people from their companies, government ministers, some social entrepreneurs, and a few who are hard to type. Well, perhaps the Ministers don’t recognize Firefox, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to them 🙂 I attend these events to help people put a face to Mozilla, to help them realize that we are not wild anarchists, to spread the message that we are a non-profit, public benefit organization pursuing the mission of a more open Internet.

Sometimes these events can be awkward because Mozilla is a hybrid organization. We produce software that is as polished — and often better — than commercial products but we’re not a commercial software vendor. We generate revenue — it’s a lot by open source standards, but *irrelevant* to most of the businesses whose CEOs attend these events. Our revenue is minuscule for the market space we represent, and in the past people will have dismissed me when they realize how “small” we are compared to the world. But that happens much less now. And to be fair, I’ve probably gotten better at presenting Mozilla in these settings.

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