Archive for the “Mozilla” Category

On Mozilla’s Support for Marriage Equality

March 29th, 2014

Last week I wrote that Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for our LGBT community, and for all underrepresented groups, will not change. Acting for or on behalf of Mozilla, it is unacceptable to limit opportunity for *anyone* based on the nature of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is not only a commitment, it is our identity.

This left unanswered the question of whether equality explicitly includes marital equality. I want to clear that up. Speaking as the Chairwoman, I want to speak clearly on behalf of both the Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation: Mozilla supports equality for all, explicitly including LGBT equality and marriage equality.

Statement: Mozilla Supports Marriage Equality

Building a Global, Diverse, Inclusive Mozilla Project: Addressing Controversy

March 26th, 2014

Monday’s announcement of Brendan Eich as the new CEO of Mozilla brought a lot of reactions. Many people were excited about what this meant for Mozilla, and our emphasis on protecting the open Web. In the next few days we’ll see more from Brendan and the leadership team on the opportunities in front of us. Before that, however, both Brendan and I want to address a particular concern that has been raised about Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for LGBT individuals and community, and whether Brendan’s role as CEO might diminish this commitment at Mozilla.

The short answer: Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for our LGBT community, and for all underrepresented groups, will not change. Acting for or on behalf of Mozilla, it is unacceptable to limit opportunity for *anyone* based on the nature of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is not only a commitment, it is our identity.

This commitment is a key requirement for all leadership within Mozilla, including for the CEO, and Brendan shares this commitment as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Second, I’ll point to Brendan’s comments on this topic.

Third, I’ll note that two years ago we had an open conversation and co-creation process about how we make sure our community supports all members, including all forms of gender and sexual orientation. The process, with me as the draftsperson, resulted in the Community Participation Guidelines. These Guidelines mandate that (1) each of us must be inclusive of all community members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and more, and (2) any exclusionary approach you might practice elsewhere must be left at the door, and not be brought into Mozilla’s spaces.

We expect everyone, regardless of role or title, to be committed to the breadth of inclusiveness described in the Guidelines. These Guidelines are in addition to our inclusive and non-discriminatory policies which apply particularly to employees. As a practical, concrete example we’ve also been pushing the boundaries to offer excellent health benefits across the board, to domestic partners and all married couples, same-sex and otherwise.

My experience is that Brendan is as committed to opportunity and diversity inside Mozilla as anyone, and more so than many. This commitment to opportunity for all within Mozilla has been a key foundation of our work for many years. I see it in action regularly.

The CEO role is obviously a key role, with a large amount of authority. The CEO must have a commitment to the inclusive nature of Mozilla. This includes of course a commitment to the Community Participation Guidelines, inclusive HR practices and the spirit that underlies them. Brendan has made this commitment.

Finally, I’ve been asked a few times about my own personal views, and so I’ll add a short comment.

I am an avid supporter of equal rights for all. I support equal rights for the LGBT community, I support equal rights for underrepresented groups, and I have some pretty radical views about the role of underrepresented groups in social institutions. I was surprised in 2012, when his donation in support of Proposition 8 came to light, to learn that Brendan and I aren’t in close alignment here, since I’ve never seen any indication of anything other than inclusiveness in our work together (note: I’ve edited this sentence to give clarity).

I spend most of my time focused on building an open Internet, which I think is a required infrastructure for empowerment for everyone and where I think I can add something that’s tricky to replace. If I weren’t doing this, I’d probably be spending a good chunk of my life focused more directly on equality issues.

A Return to Founders as Mozilla Moves Forward

March 24th, 2014

I’m happy to welcome Brendan Eich to a new role at Mozilla, that of our CEO. I also want to thank Jay Sullivan for his dedication to Mozilla over the years and in particular as our acting CEO this last year.

Brendan has been an absolutely foundational element of Mozilla and our success for the past 15 years. The parallels between Mozilla’s history and our future are very strong, and I am very happy with this combination of continuity and change to help us continue to fulfill our mission, as Mozilla has big ambitions: providing a rich, exciting online experience that puts people at the center of digital life.

We exceeded our wildest dreams with Firefox when we first released it 10 years ago. We moved the desktop and browsing environments to a much more open place, with far more options and control available to individuals.

When I look back at the early days that led to Firefox, I think mostly of the personalities that achieved this great success. Mozilla was a small band of people, mostly volunteers and a few employees, bound together by a shared mission and led by Brendan and me as co-founders of the Mozilla project. We were an unusual group to have such huge ambitions. Looking at us, most people thought we would never succeed. But we did. We succeeded because like-minded people joined with us to make Mozilla so much stronger, and to create amazing products that embody our values — products that people love to use.

Today we live in a different online era. This era combines desktop, mobile devices, cloud services, big data and a social layer. It is feature-rich, highly centralized, and focused on a few giant organizations that exert control over almost all aspects of the experience. Today’s computing environment is deeply in need of an open, exciting alternative that shows what the Open Web brings to this setting — something built on parts including Firefox OS, WebGL, asm.js, and the many other innovations being developed at Mozilla. It is comparable to the desktop computing environment we set out to revolutionize when we started Mozilla.

Mozilla needs to bring a similar scope of change to the new computing era. Once again, Mozilla needs to break down the walled gardens of online life and bring openness and opportunity to all. Once again, we have the chance to build products and communities in a way that no one else will. Once again, we will build something new and exciting.

Over the years I’ve worked with Brendan, we’ve each had a variety of roles, and we have always had a great partnership. I look forward to working closely together in this phase of Mozilla’s development. I hope you’ll join us.


25 Years of Human Potential

March 12th, 2014

The World Wide Web is the greatest tool for knowledge sharing and collaboration we have ever seen.  In the 25 years it has existed —  only a third of a modern lifespan– the Web has affected almost every aspect of life for much of humanity, and will do so for even more of humanity in the years to come.

The Web shows us the creativity and ingenuity and diversity of humanity.  The Web empowers all of us to try out new ideas and offer them to the world, without needing to ask the powerful for permission.    The rapid pace of innovation shows us what humanity is capable of when powerful tools are made equally available to all of us.

The next 25 years will show us whether this openness can be maintained in some significant degree or whether the Web will become “business as usual.”  Today many groups are working to tame this explosive openness and potential, some for very legitimate and understandable reasons.  Governments seek to limit or control the Web to protect their citizens, either from criminal activities or to protect cultural norms.  Some governments seek to regulate the Internet to protect and propagate their own positions.  Companies seek to tame the Web to build their business and return value to shareholders.

Mozilla believes that the full range of human potential must be represented on the Web.  We believe that the power of the Web is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. We will continue our dedication to building this portion of the Web and of online life.

Today on the Web’s 25th birthday, we are joining with the Web at 25 campaign and the Web We Want campaign to enable and amplify the voice of the Internet community. We encourage you to visit to send a birthday greeting to the Web and visit our interactive quilt to share your vision for the type of Web you want.

Click below for thoughts from Mozilla CTO and SVP of Engineering, Brendan Eich on the 25th birthday:

A quick note

February 19th, 2014

I’ve been quiet since the Town Hall on Directory Tiles. That’s because I’ve been traveling and pretty wrapped up in the trip. I know there is a lot to think about with the Directory Tiles, a lot of good questions and topics raised.

I’m on my way to some more meetings in Europe and then Mobile World Congress. So I may be pretty quiet until MWC is over. Please don’t think that means I’ve zoned out on this topic. I know it’s important.

Content, Ads, Caution

February 13th, 2014

I’m starting with content but please rest assured I’ll get to the topic of ads and revenue.

In the early days of Firefox we were very careful not to offer content to our users.  Firefox came out of a world in which both Netscape/AOL (the alma mater of many early Mozillians) and Microsoft had valued their content and revenue sources over the user experience.  Those of us from Netscape/AOL had seen features, bookmarks, tabs, and other irritants added to the product to generate revenue.   We’d seen Mozilla code subsequently “enhanced” with these features.

And so we have a very strong, very negative reaction to any activities that even remotely remind us of this approach to product.  That’s good.

This reaction somehow became synonymous with other approaches that are not necessarily so helpful.  For a number of  years we refused to have any relationship with our users beyond we provide software and they use it.  We resisted offering content unless it came directly from an explicit user action.  This made sense at first when the web was so young.  But over the years many people have come to expect and want their software to do things on their behalf, to take note of what one has done before and do something useful with it.

In the last few years we’ve begun to respond to this.  We’re careful about it because the DNA is based on products serving users.  Every time we offer something to our users we question ourselves rigorously about the motivations for that offer.  Are we sure it’s the most value we can provide to our users? Are we sure, doubly-sure, we’re not fooling ourselves?  Sometimes my commercial colleagues laugh at me for the amount of real estate we leave unmonitored or the revenue opportunities we decline.

So we look at the Tiles and wonder if we can do more for people.    We think we can.  I’ve heard some people say they still don’t want any content offered.  They want their experience to be new, to be the same as it was the day they installed the browser, the same as anyone else might experience.  I understand this view, and think it’s not the default most people are choosing.  We think we can offer people useful content in the Tiles.

When we have ideas about how content might be useful to people, we look at whether there is a revenue possibility, and if that would annoy people or bring something potentially useful.  Ads in search turn out to be useful.  The gist  of the Tiles idea is that we would include something like 9 Tiles on a page, and that 2 or 3 of them would be sponsored — aka “ads.”  So to explicitly address the question of whether sponsored tiles (aka “ads”) could be included as part of a content offering, the answer is yes.

These sponsored results/ ads would not have tracking features.

Why would we include any sponsored results?  If the Tiles are useful to people then we’ll generate value.  That generates revenue that supports the Mozilla project.   So to explicitly address the question of whether we care about generating revenue and sustaining Mozilla’s work, the answer is yes.  In fact, many of us feel responsible to do exactly this.

Pretty much anytime we talk about revenue at Mozilla people get suspicious.  Mozillians get suspicious, and our supporters get suspicious.  There’s some value in that, as it reinforces our commitment to user experience and providing value to our users.  There’s some drawbacks to this as well, however.  I’ll be talking with Mozillians tomorrow and in the coming days on these topics in more detail.

Netscape, License, Me

December 18th, 2013

Yesterday I came across the image of the launch day version of Netscape Navigator 1.0 — the first commercial browser that set the World Wide Web on fire, and caused the explosion of Internet technology into everyday life.  Here’s an image of an early info Netscape provided — how to click a link, find things in that era, etc.  Some fun history of the early, early World Wide Web. It’s so early that the list of search engines does not predates Google.

The image has a link labeled “LICENSE.”  I found myself trying to click on the link.  Silly, but still I wanted to see it.  I wrote the license that link used to point to.  I wrote every end-user license in Netscape’s products for many years, until the mighty Liz Compton took over.  The licenses were complicated.  They reflected something new — free product.  Today we are used to getting consumer grade software for free, but Netscape was a pioneer.  Netscape Navigator was free until the 1.0 version, and then they were free to charitable organizations.  (This change was quite controversial among Netscape employees; I was not the decision-maker.)  That made for complicated business terms and license terms.  We had long negotiations with organizations that supplied code we integrated, explaining to them why Netscape would not pay them for every copy distributed.  Explaining that the software was sometimes given away led to astonishment at first, and long negotiating sessions.  I was responsible for all these negotiations with external vendors of software bits as well, so at least I knew how important it was.

One time I had to rewrite the license because our installer program had a length limit.  I think that’s when we combine the licenses for the free and the paid versions into one document.  Perhaps that was a good forcing function to shorter licensing terms, but it did require the business owners to take some risk with less specific language.

All these licenses were training for writing the Mozilla Public License 1.0 (now superceded by the 2.0 version). I see the MPL as the highlight of my time in the licensing world.  I had help, including  Liz and Harvey Anderson, both now with Mozilla.  Even so, I “held the pen” and by the time I was done I had memorized almost every clause.  Harvey had a big role in the patent pieces of the 1.1 license, which may have been the first open source/free software license to have a patent defense clause.  It’s the first I know of so far, and I know we didn’t work from examples, so at least it was an original creation.  (Ironically, original creation is not a patent defense although it is for copyright infringement.)

The idea of Mozilla was announced on January 22, and the project launched March 31, 1998.  I wrote the MPL within that period, as the engineering team got ready for the release and we all worked to figure out how the first iteration of Mozilla would work.  A bunch of today’s Mozillians have stories of that time.  Many people told us a license couldn’t be created, let alone in 2+ months, but those of us at Netscape just went ahead and did it.  We had public review via newsgroup — appropriately called 331.  If anyone has archives of that newsgroup I would love to get a copy.  Once again, a part of Mozilla’s history predates the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

(As a side note, the wondrous Internet Archive suffered a fire which damaged its building and its digitizing materials.  The fund-raising campaign to support rebuilding is underway.  Mozilla is contributing to this invaluable asset and we hope to see the Internet Archive fully restored as soon as possible.)

I still wish I could click that “LICENSE” link … “-)

State of Mozilla and 2012 Financial Statements

November 26th, 2013

Mozilla is a global, non-profit community dedicated to the mission of building an Internet that is “knowable,” interoperable and open to everyone.  When the Internet is knowable it is transparent, we can see it and understand it; we can know more. When the Internet is interoperable we have more opportunity to try new things; we can do more. When it is open to everyone it becomes “ours,” and we can build things that support the full range of human life, from economic to social to public to individual; we can do better.

When we use the word “open” we mean all of these things. We expect these traits in all aspects of online life. We work to represent these traits in how we organize and operate as Mozilla. We are organized as a non-profit so we can put these elements first, always. We seek to influence the Web as a whole towards user-control, towards the openness that builds accountability and trustworthiness, and individual choice and empowerment.

We build products, such as Firefox and Firefox OS, to make our values concrete and part of daily online life. We empower global communities, so more of the people who share our mission have the knowledge and experience and credibility to move the mission forward. We do this by deepening our volunteer engagement in our core products, and by encouraging them to develop their own projects. We teach and learn, both through our product development and through dedicated teaching and learning programs such as Webmaker. Ultimately we aim to shape environments, from the consumer Internet experience to public policy to learning environments.

Mozilla’s direction and decisions are based on our mission of making the Internet understandable, interoperable and open to all, while moving the Web forward as a platform for creation and consumption. We recently released our State of Mozilla and audited financial statements for 2012. That generally sparks comments on our finances, which of course makes sense. The finances are important, they are what allows us to support our work at the scale at which we need to operate and to advocate for the Web and the billions of people online. For us, however, financial return is not our main organizing principle. Our stakeholders are our global communities, the people who use our projects and ultimately all those interested in the health and openness of the Internet. The key return on investment for these stakeholders is the degree to which we move Internet life towards being knowable, interoperable and open to everyone.

UC Berkeley, Mozilla, me

November 12th, 2013

Friday I attended the inauguration of the new Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley.  I spent a lot of time at UC Berkeley (or “Cal” as it is known among students and alums).  I got my undergraduate degree (in Asian Studies, an interdisciplinary degree) from Berkeley.  I worked as a staff member at the Center for Chinese Studies Library for a few years, where I was generally the only non-native Chinese speaker in the Library.  In an odd turn of fate I returned to Berkeley for my graduate degree (in law).

Berkeley is part of the much larger system of public education in the state of California.  “Public” higher education may seem obvious to some, if you come from a part of the world where this is standard.  In the US, many universities (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, Yale) are private organizations, and so the public nature of the University of California is a big part of its identity.  The entire system includes a set of 2-year Community Colleges, almost 25 California State University campuses and 10 University of California campuses.  I was very fortunate because during my college and graduate years the State of California provided immense support to public education, and I was one of the many beneficiaries.  I benefited from a world-class education without the kind of crushing debt that colors one’s choices for years afterwards.  I see my work at Mozilla as possible in part because the State of California invested in me.

I have always found UC Berkeley to be a funny mix of radical, innovative, and traditional.  The student body is politically active at Berkeley.  The Free Speech Movement in the early 1960’s established the right of students to engage in political speech on campus, something I took for granted.  The faculty at Berkeley is active.  In the 1920’s a “faculty revolt” resulted in the faculty (through the Academic Senate) obtaining a much-extended role in shared governance of UC Berkeley.  The staff at Berkeley is active as well, demanding respect as part of what makes Berkeley great.  (I was staff at UC Berkeley for a few years before graduate school, so I remember this aspect as well.)

Both of these elements were present at the inauguration.  The event started with a student protest about Janet Napolitano, ex head of US Homeland Security and recently appointed as the President of the UC system.  It’s a controversial appointment since her background is in security and immigration/ deportation rather than education.  The protest was actually quite moderate.  The students sat up in the balcony, stood up as soon as the event started and chanted their position.  This took maybe a couple of minutes.  Then they left.  No on-going heckling, no need to be tossed out.

A few things I noticed about the content of the event.  During the procession (classes, faculty, other institutions, staff), I felt myself perk up at one point.  I wondered why, especially as the law school classmate I went with didn’t seem to notice.  Then I realized — the orchestra was playing the UC Berkeley  “fight song”.  I’ve heard this a million times — it’s like hearing your name.  The song refers to the UC Berkeley mascot — the Golden Bear. It includes a verse:

From his Lair he fiercely growls.
What’s he say? He says:
From his Lair he fiercely growls.
What’s he say? He says:
Grrrrrah, Grrrrrrah!
Grrrr, Rrrr, Rrrrrah!

So, after the first Processional there was a very quiet sound from the hall:

Grrrrrah, Grrrrrrah!
Grrrr, Rrrr, Rrrrrah!

After each Processional group the Golden Bear got louder.  Never as loud as at a football game, but still it felt like Berkeley.  Funny tradition of activism and chants.  Similarly, many of the speakers at the inauguration ended their remarks with the classic call “Go Bears!”  You can hear it at the end of the Men’s Octet rendition of the fight song.

More seriously, the remarks made by all speakers reinforced a few key concepts:

  • Cal seeks to be the world’s pre-eminent public research university, promoting both excellence and education as an important element of democratic societies, not just economic benefit of individual students.Cal aims for excellence, affordability, and diversity of students.
    Calls for social justice, both for working people and for undocumented students.  For those not familiar with US immigration issues, “undocumented students” refers to people who hold neither a US passport nor a visa to remain in the United States.

There were also many references to the difficulties the UC System faces.  Finances are tight, the State of California has reduced its support dramatically and tuition rates have gone up. Undergraduate education vs  graduate and research efforts are a topic.  The value of studying humanity (“liberal arts”) as well as technology is a topic.

The new chancellor described all of these, plus the plans to move forward.  This part of the talk was a bit long for me.  It was a speech, rather than the short remarks of the other participants. This makes sense to me.  But I have to admit that my working life is mostly focused around very short attention spans — like 15 seconds.  :-)  Seriously, that’s advice I give people who are dealing with executives for the first time.  You have about 15 seconds to get someone’s attention, especially via email.  So even though I was a bit itchy during the end of this talk, I was still able to focus enough to appreciate the core content.

Since I moved to Silicon Valley, I’ve come to appreciate how amazing Stanford University is.  It’s a key component of the innovation and intelligence and excellence that the Valley produces.  I didn’t understand its important until I lived here a while.  I’ve always found Stanford very difficult to develop any relationship with as a non-alum, but I have come to be awed by it as well.

I have to say though, it was wonderful to be at UC Berkeley, where I felt at home — utterly, totally, and completely at home.

Getting Ready for Summit 2013; Fun Already!

September 27th, 2013

In just a week Mozillians will gather for the Mozilla Summit 2013.  I’ve been working with a number of the facilitators and the “track leads” and I have to say, it is really rewarding.

The Summit will have 4 or 5 “plenary sessions” with pretty carefully planned content.  We also have identified some key ideas and topics that the plenary talks will raise, and planned session to address some of these. These are known as “Supporting Sessions.” We expect to have the same Supporting Sessions in each of the 3 locations, facilitated by people in each location.  (There will also be a big chunk of time for Open Sessions –anyone proposes a session — and for spontaneous groups to gather.)  The topics for the Supporting Sessions were determined by the 60 or so Assembly Delegates and the rest of the summit organizing team.  These groups did not determine the actual content of the Supporting Sessions.  Instead, we gave a topical statement to guide the facilitators in developing an approach to the session.   The Track Leads have the roles of looking at all the supporting Sessions for a particular theme — product and technology, people and process, purpose and strategy.  They also assist the facilitators stay connected with the overall picture.

I’ll give one of plenary talks, focused on the nature of Mozilla, who we are, why we exist, how we work, the attributes of success, and the connections to our products and communities.  So far I’ve talked with the facilitators of 3 the Supporting Sessions that relate to these themes:

what does “mozillian” mean? ”
“practicing Open;” and
“distributed leadership and decision-making.”

Wow!  In each case I was impressed with the sophistication of the work the facilitators and track leads are doing.  These are complex topics, selected to represent some key elements of Mozilla that are different from most organizations.   That means it’s really important to develop a shared understanding of our goals, and yet we can’t simply do what everyone else does.

I’m looking forward to the Summit more than ever!

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