Mozilla has just filed its audited financial statements for 2009. This is the perfect time to look at the state of the Mozilla mission, our successes, our opportunities and our challenges. This year we’re trying a different format to better reflect the scope of Mozilla and to make better use of video and visual information. We’re hosting this year’s State of Mozilla and Financial Statements at our main website rather than at this blog. Please take a look!
Posts Tagged with “Corporation”
November 18th, 2010
July 27th, 2010
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.
May 11th, 2010
When John Lilly joined Mozilla, he told me he expected to contribute as an employee for two years. At the time John had originally been planning to join the investing world as a venture capitalist. That was five years ago.
Sometime this year John will step down from his role as CEO at Mozilla to join the venture firm Greylock Partners, returning to his original plan of investing. John will remain on the Board of the Mozilla Corporation. And he will also remain at Mozilla during the transition. The timing of this announcement — just as we begin a formal search for a new CEO — is to make this process more open than is generally the case and is a reflection of the uniqueness of Mozilla as a public benefit organization dedicated to openness and participation in Internet life.
It’s been a pleasure to work with John in building an organization that marries our public benefit mission with extraordinary reach and excellence in execution. Mozilla is now on a path to reaching half a billion people (400 million so far) around the world in more than 78 languages, Firefox on mobile is coming to life — and Mozilla’s global community and organization is bringing individual empowerment to more people and more areas of Internet life than ever before.
As we work through this transition, we have confidence that the Mozilla community will continue working to advance our core purpose — building openness and individual empowerment into the fabric of the Internet.
June 4th, 2008
I’m very pleased to announce that Ellen Siminoff is joining the Mozilla Corporation board of directors. She joins John Lilly, Reid Hoffman and me on this board. Ellen brings a deep understanding of the consumer Internet, experience at growing and operating organizations of around our size, an entrepreneurial spirit, experience with Board-level responsibilities and a commitment to using these talents in the service of Mozilla’s mission.
I’ve been impressed with Ellen’s ability to figure out what a traditional profit-oriented start-up would be likely to do in a given situation, and then to recognize when those actions might be modified to reflect Mozilla DNA and to move forward in a Mozilla-like way. Those of us who live with Mozilla are used to doing this. It’s not so easy to find people with deep experience in the Internet industry who take to this so quickly. I’m looking forward to having Ellen’s perceptiveness and experience on the MoCo board.
Ellen’s CV is below. We’ll schedule an Air Mozilla broadcast with Ellen before too long so you can talk to her directly.
Ellen Siminoff is President and CEO of Shmoop University, an educational website. She is also Chairman of Efficient Frontier, a pioneer of dynamic search engine marketing management services. She worked with the founders to evolve Efficient Frontier from a groundbreaking idea into the leading Search Engine Marketing agency in the world with business in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and Latin America.Prior to Efficient Frontier, Mrs. Siminoff had six adventurous years s a founding executive at Yahoo!. During her tenure, she led business development (VP, Business Development and Planning), corporate development (SVP, Corporate Development) and eventually ran the small business and entertainment business units, representing approximately 25% of Yahoo’s revenue (SVP, Entertainment and Small Business). Before Yahoo!, Mrs. Siminoff worked for the Los Angeles Times as electronic classifieds manager, where she developed strategy and implemented the newspaper’s own on-line businesses as well as a joint venture of Career Path with 5 newspaper companies.With her husband, David, Mrs. Siminoff founded EastNet, a global syndicate barter company distributing television programming to 14 emerging market countries in exchange for advertising time. She graduated Stanford’s Graduate School of Business with an MBA in 1993 after having completed a summer in corporate finance at Salomon Brothers. Mrs. Siminoff worked as a human resources management consultant in New York after graduating from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.Currently, she serves on the board of directors for US Auto Parts, an Internet retailer with more than 550,000 top-rated discount car parts; Journal Communications, a diversified media and communications company operating businesses in newspaper publishing, radio and television broadcasting, telecommunications, and printing services; and glu mobile, a leading global publisher of mobile games. In 2005 she was one of eight industry professionals named “Masters of Information” by Forbes magazine. In addition, she is on the boards of directors and advisors of a number of private companies including 4info.net, the leader in mobile SMS marketing. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, including Ad-Tech, Search Engine Strategies, and Supernova.
June 4th, 2008
The Mozilla Corporation is welcoming a new board member. I’ll introduce her in a moment. First I’ll describe the role of a board member, and what we looked for.
The board of directors is generally responsible for the conduct and the management of affairs of a company. More specifically, they have fiduciary and ethical responsibility and accountability for what a company does. There are many opinions about specifically what these means as a couple of Wikipedia entries make clear. The main point for this discussion is that a Board is really not like the operational groups. To use more traditional terms, the Board is not like the “management team.” The Board asserts authority in the areas of governance and accountability; it provides assistance, guidance and support in strategic decisions and tactical activities. There’s no one better equipped to understand our world than the people building it every day. We look to the Board to support and improve those efforts, rather than try to micro-manage those efforts.
As in all roles related to Mozilla, we’re looking for individuals who are fundamentally excited about the Mozilla mission and what makes us different, and are highly attuned to MoCo’s role as part of a much larger community. For a board member we’re also looking for someone who can execute the fiduciary and accountability responsibilities required of a board, and is likely to work well with the existing members of the board and the people with whom the board works most closely. We’re also looking for people who understand the consumer and developer Internet world where MoCo lives, and can help MoCo perform better against our mission within this world. Operational experience in running an organization the size or scope of MoCo is very helpful. Experience in working with other organizations and companies in the consumer Internet is also a plus.
All Mozilla directors — those of MoCo, those of the Mozilla Foundation, and those of Mozilla Messaging — are volunteers. There is no compensation for being a board member. This is true of many non-profits but a difference from board membership in many private and public companies.
When the Mozilla Corporation was created we had three board members. Chris Blizzard left the Mozilla Foundation board and joined the Mozilla Corporation. At the time Chris worked at Red Hat. I remained on the Foundation board and also joined the MoCo board. I was (and still am) the only person to be part of both boards. Reid Hoffman joined the MoCo board to bring his insight into the consumer Internet space to moving the Mozilla mission forward. That gave us a board of three, two of whom were “outside” directors. “Outside” here means not part of the management team and employed by MoCo. When John Lilly became COO (“Chief Operating Officer”) in late 2006 he joined the Board as well, and we had a board of four.
Last fall Chris Blizzard changed jobs, moved to the Mozilla Corporation as an employee and resigned from the Board. (We’ve been extremely lucky to have Chris’ contributions in many roles over the years.) We began a search for at least one and perhaps two additional outside directors. We talked to people who have solid experience with what a board does and how good boards interact with the people making things happen on a day to day basis. This is normally called the “management team” or the “executive team.” At Mozilla we don’t use those terms as much, but the concept is the same: a good Board is not trying to manage the operations of the organization, it is providing support and guidance and governance to the group that is. In our case, that’s the Steering Committee.
Legally, Mozilla Corporation board members are responsible to the Mozilla Foundation as the sole shareholder. The Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors is the group responsible for electing board members. We talked to a bunch of people; always looking for people with a good sense for the Internet and a fundamental understanding that MoCo is a mission-driven organization dedicated to building the Mozilla vision. This is key — MoCo must provide consumer offerings that excel — that’s the way we move our mission forward. And yet we do it for a public benefit mission; not for the reasons companies usually create software.
Eventually a few people appeared whom had great expertise and we thought might fit well. John and I asked them to talk with a bunch of Mozilla folks. From there the person with the best fit spent time with the Mozilla Foundation directors. We did some due diligence, talking with people who’ve worked with her before. When everything lined up, the Mozilla Foundation board of directors formally took action to elect a new board member to the MoCo board of directors.