I’m very excited to introduce Gary Kovacs, who is joining Mozilla as our new CEO for the Mozilla Corporation. As I mentioned in my last post describing the search, we’ve been looking for someone with a broad range of skills:
• 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
A number of people were involved in the search process. We talked to a lot of people, and Gary stands out for the way he bridges these skill sets. He melds the fundamentals of a good executive with a powerful understanding that Mozilla’s non-profit, public benefit mission drives everything we do, including those activities which might look like “business as usual” to a casual observer. Gary brings a deep understanding of the mobile space and rich media from his time at Macromedia / Adobe and Sybase. Both of these areas are critical to the future of the Web. He’s also been deeply involved with building broad platforms, also highly important to Mozilla. Gary also brings a focus on a collaborative work style and the centrality of empowering others. At Mozilla we often speak of “poetry and pragmatics” as fundamental to the nature of Mozilla, and Gary understands both these are critical for Mozilla to thrive.
Less formally, but equally important — I found working with Gary to be both effective and comfortable. It may not be obvious, but a lot of time and effort goes into getting to know a CEO candidate. This is partially about technical issues — how much does s/he understand about our space, our mission, our identity. It’s also about personal and approach issues — how will we work together, what’s it like to work through a difficult topic, what is a candidate’s style under stress, how does s/he make decisions, what’s his/her leadership style, how does s/he get things done.
When we entered into sensitive areas I found it possible to raise potentially contentious issues, find some common ground, get to the heart of the matter and push some hard topics around until we both felt we’d reached a good place. I found Gary to have a great understanding of the different perspectives of the situation, an ability to be clear where we already had agreement, and a give-and-take process when we had disagreements that I think is fundamental for someone to be effective at Mozilla. Actually, I found Gary to focus a bit more on areas of agreement before diving to the heart of potential differences than is common at Mozilla — a trait I hope to learn from 🙂
Mozilla has great opportunities and great challenges ahead of us. We have tremendous assets. We must be our best, and demonstrate what the Internet can be. The stakes are high, and every person who cares about a trustworthy and participatory Internet is essential. Gary is an immense asset. He’s also a human being I expect each of us will respect immensely and enjoy working with.
Please join me in welcoming Gary to Mozilla!