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.
January 7th, 2008
2007 has been another year of extremely high growth for Mozilla and thus for the Mozilla Corporation. The number of Firefox users has grown to approximately 125 million. Mozilla’s mindshare in the industry continues to grow. We’ve launched both a number of significant new initiatives: a mobile effort, an innovation focus in Mozilla Labs, an integrated, ambitious support effort (support.mozilla.org) and a range of new outreach and evangelism programs. We’ve launched a serious effort in China and are vigorously supporting the new mail related Mozilla organization. We continue to build and ship great software, as the recent Firefox 3 betas demonstrate. Our contributors are increasing around the globe. Employees are increasing around the globe. We’re doing this in a Mozilla way, with a tiny number of employees for the work, distributed authority and tens of thousands of people contributing to create a more open and participatory Internet.
Our accomplishments are remarkable; the opportunity in front of us is enormous. To meet this opportunity we need to execute really, really well. And we need to make the best use of our resources, most notably people.
Today both John Lilly and I are spending a lot of time in classic “CEO” activities– organizational structure, employee well-being, budget and resource allocation, representing Mozilla products (especially Firefox) in discussions with other industry executives and the press, monitoring the progress of our product efforts, and overall execution of MoCo (our shorhand for the Mozilla Corporation). In addition to this work, I spend another chunk of time on overall organizational issues, in particular the relationship of the Mozilla Corporation to other Mozilla entities — The Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla Europe, “MailCo”, and the Mozilla community. I’m starting to spend time thinking about Firefox as a springboard in the Internet industry for bringing participation to areas not directly touched through using a browser– for data, for understanding what’s actually happening with the Internet. I spend time on Mozilla Foundation activities and project wide policies, including recruiting an Executive Director and filling in somewhat until we find someone. Each of these areas needs more time than it gets, and each will need even more time in the future.
So I’ve asked myself repeatedly: what is the best use of my talents? Not the use that is known, or that fits a standard model or is most glamourous. Those are all fine criteria, but not for Mozilla and not for me. More recently I started framing the question a little more precisely, asking myself: what am I doing that someone else could do as least as well? Are there unmet aspects of the opportunity in front of us that I could do a particularly good job of moving forward if I focused more on them?
I have some unique attributes within the Mozilla world. I’ve had a leadership role since the early days and along with Brendan Eich I’ve been involved in — and often instrumental in — almost every major strategic and organizational decision following the launch of Mozilla. My focus ranges across the Mozilla world, and no one title captures the scope of what I think about and where I try to lead. I have a vision of the Internet and online life and a positive user experience — and of Mozilla’s role in creating these — that is far broader than browsers, email clients and even technology in general. Mozilla has shaped me during this first decade of my involvement; constantly astounding me with the ingenuity, commitment and excellence of our contributors. And I’ve undoubtedly had a hand in shaping Mozilla.
Framed like this, a couple of things jumped out at me. One, I want Mozilla’s influence on the industry to go beyond the bits we ship as software. More particularly, I want to use the impact Firefox gives us in the market to get openness, collaboration and user control embedded in other products, services and aspects of online life. I’ve listed a few examples of what I mean below. You’ll see they are not yet precise and detailed. That’s why I want to dive into them– I can sense the enormity of the opportunity and a general sense of how to approach it, but I don’t have detailed project plans, and I’m not aware of anyone else who does. Some examples are:
- Making the standards process more effective.
- Encouraging more hybrid organizations like the Mozilla Corporation — organizations which serve the public benefit but support themselves through revenue rather than fund-raising.
- Making “security” understandable enough that people can help protect themselves.
- Providing individuals with the means to control their data and the content they create.
- Making the public benefit, distributed and collaborative nature of Mozilla and Firefox more generally understood.
The second thing that jumped out at me is that John Lilly is the right person to guide the product and organizational maturity of MoCo. John has been doing more and more of this since he took on the COO role in August of 2006. John understands Mozilla, is astonishingly good at operations and has an innate facility for our products and technologies and the directions in which they should develop. John has been instrumental in developing an organizational structure for MoCo that is both embedded in Mozilla and open-source DNA and which can function at the extremely high degree of effectiveness that our setting requires.
Once I allowed myself to think about this I realized that John will be a better CEO for the MoCo going forward than I would be. I’m sure that I was the right person for this role during the first years of MoCo; I’m equally sure that John is the best person for this role in the future.
As a result I’ve asked John to take on the role of CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, and John has agreed. In reality John and I have been unconsciously moving towards this change for some time, as John has been providing more and more organizational leadership. It is very Mozilla-like to acknowledge the scope of someone’s role after he or she has been doing it for a while, and this is a good part of what is happening here. I expect this transition to continue to be very smooth.
I will remain an active and integral part of MoCo. I’ve been involved in shipping Mozilla products since the dawn of time, and have no intention of distancing myself from our products or MoCo. I’ll remain both as the Chairman of the Board and as an employee. My focus will shift towards the kinds of activities described above, but I’ll remain deeply engaged in MoCo activities. I don’t currently plan to create a new title. I have plenty of Mozilla titles already: Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, Chairman of the Mozilla Corporation, Chief Lizard Wrangler of the project. More importantly, I hope to provide leadership in new initiatives because they are worthwhile, separate from any particular title. We will probably create an Office of the Chairman with a small set of people to work on these initiatives. I intend to remain deeply involved with MoCo precisely because I remain focused on our products and what we can accomplish within the industry.
There will be some differences with this change of roles. Most notably:
- John’s role in products and organization will become more visible to the world as he becomes more of a public voice for MoCo activities.
- Today — in theory at least — John provides advice to me for a range of decisions for which I am responsible. In the future I’ll provide input to John and he’ll be responsible for making MoCo an effective organization. I expect to provide advice on a subset of topics and thus reduce the duplication of work. On the other hand, I also expect to be quite vocal on the topics I care about most. John and I agree on most things these days, but that doesn’t stop me from being vocal 🙂
I’m thrilled with this development, both with John’s new role and with mine. If you’ve got thoughts on the kinds of projects I want to set in motion, I’m eager to hear them. And don’t be surprised if you see the Mozilla Corporation doing more faster — that’s a part of the goal. We’re all committed to doing things in a Mozilla style and you should expect to see that continue to shine through all that we do, whether it’s shipping product or developing a new initiative.
October 22nd, 2007
In this post I want to focus on two fundamental aspects of the Mozilla project. First, Mozilla as a giant, wildly vibrant open source project. Second, Mozilla as a force for building an Internet based on openness, choice, participation and public benefit. We’re a force in the lives of individual people and in the Internet industry as a whole. These two aspects of Mozilla are complementary; each strengthens the other. Either one alone would be a great achievement. The two together are a breathtaking accomplishment.
Today we are posting our audited financial statements and tax form for 2006. The highlight is that Mozilla remains financially healthy: we’re able to hire more people, build more products, help other projects, and bring more possibilities for participation in the Internet to millions of people. The Mozilla project is growing in almost every way — size, scale, types of activities, new communities, and in reach.
Mozilla’s revenues (including both Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation) for 2006 were $66,840,850, up approximately 26% from 2005 revenue of $52,906,602. As in 2005 the vast majority of this revenue is associated with the search functionality in Mozilla Firefox, and the majority of that is from Google. The Firefox userbase and search revenue have both increased from 2005. Search revenue increased at a lesser rate than Firefox usage growth as the rate of payment declines with volume. Other revenue sources were the Mozilla Store, public support and interest and other income on our assets.
Mozilla expenses for 2006 were $19,776,193. Expenditures remain highly focused in two key areas: people and infrastructure. By the end of 2006 Mozilla was funding approximately 90 people working full or part-time on Mozilla around the world. Expenditures on people accounted for roughly 70% of our total expenses in 2006. The largest concentrations of people funded by Mozilla were in California, Tokyo, Toronto, and Paris. The number of funded people and of multi-person locations continues to grow. As of October 2007 we have additional concentrations of people in Beijing and New Zealand, with announced plans to increase the number of people in Europe.
Mozilla’s revenue in 2006 exceeded our expenses. Our assets at the end of 2006 were $74,148,710, up from $52,396,387 at the end of 2005. In 2007 we expect our expenses to be significantly higher as we have continued to hire and fund more people and develop additional programs.
Of the people Mozilla funds, the largest single group works on the Mozilla “platform.” This includes all the underlying technology that individuals don’t manipulate directly — networking, layout, understanding content from websites, security, and so on. The work of the platform group supports all Mozilla products and most Mozilla projects. The next largest group is Quality Assurance, which provides formal verification for Firefox and Thunderbird, and informal assistance to other Mozilla projects. Other large groups are the Firefox application group, marketing and outreach, and IT or technical infrastructure. We have small but potent sets of people working on build and release, web tools, our websites (including add-ons), and other functions.
Mozilla’s technical infrastructure also grew dramatically in 2006. In late 2006 we served close to 600,000 Firefox downloads, over 2.1 terabytes of data and 25 million update requests — per day — making Mozilla one of the top 100 sites on the web. In addition, 2006 saw a vast increase in capacity and infrastructure reliability for all essential Mozilla services including the launch of a European datacenter, cutting server response time by 50% or more for much for Europe.
The improvements in infrastructure go beyond machines and moving bits. Our infrastructure for providing add-ons is an example. The add-ons site supports not only Firefox and Thunderbird but also the community projects of SeaMonkey and Sunbird. We’ve also spent a great deal of effort to make our sites multi-lingual, rather than simply “localized.” In the past, key sites such as addons.mozilla.org were English sites that could also provide translated content in other languages. Today add-ons has been rewritten to be language-neutral, meaning that the same service level is available to everyone. This was actually a very difficult and painful process. We did it because more and more non-English speakers are accessing the web, and we want to offer them equal ability to participate in the Mozilla world and the Internet in general.
The infrastructure work is an example of how revenue generated by Firefox is used to provide benefit to the entire Mozilla community. We now have a world-class infrastructure – machines that are tended and optimized constantly, prompt updates with security patches, on call response available when problems occur – which supports a range of Mozilla projects.
In 2006 we began giving grants and funding programs. One area of focus has been improving accessibility for people with disabilities, including people with low vision, mobility and learning disabilities. This work includes accessibility for Mozilla products and also accessibility in general. For example, funding to date has included better accessibility of AJAX-based dynamic web applications and support for building better open source accessibility infrastructure technologies on Windows and Linux. In addition to the accessibility related programs, Mozilla’s other major areas of expenditure have included support of third-party developers of add-ons, and support of a trial program at Seneca College exploring student participation in Mozilla development at colleges and universities. We have also made a series of grants to individuals making contributions to Mozilla projects. This includes hardware, funding travel to allow face-to-face meetings for our distributed community of participants, providing tools and infrastructure (machines and hosting) for community members. We also provided assistance to Creative Commons.
In 2006 Mozilla contributed approximately $300,000 to these efforts. This is a small first step as we learn to spend money without causing unintended consequences in our community. We expect the amounts to expand significantly in 2007 and beyond. For example, so far in 2007 we provided a grant to the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University for its ongoing operations in support of open source projects and the Participatory Culture Foundation for improving open source-cross platform video on the Internet through its Miro Player project.
We’ve started an FAQ and will add to it if new questions come up.
Our financial status allows us to build on sustainability to do ever more. More as an open source project, and more to move the Internet overall increasingly towards openness and participation.
Growth as an Open Source Project
Mozilla is a gigantic open source project and still growing. Tens of thousands of people are involved in the Mozilla project. Over 1,000 people contributed code to Firefox 2. Mozilla employed around 50 of those people. In 2006, approximately 10,000 people downloaded nightly builds every day; this number continues to grow. Sixteen thousand people reported bugs or potential issues in our bug-tracking system; something like a thousand comments a day were added to the issue-tracker. Our new, more precise distributed testing system gained approximately 2000 participants in the first months after its deployment. Tens of thousands of people test our beta and security releases before we offer them to the general public. The Spread Firefox referral program had over 65,000 participants displaying Mozilla or Firefox content (buttons, etc.) on their websites. Uncounted numbers of people participate through promoting Mozilla and helping others learn about Mozilla.
The geographical distribution of Mozilla contributors and usage has expanded significantly. In November of 2006 we shipped Firefox 2 in 37 languages. That’s unprecedented. Comparable products ship in as few as 1 language, with some tools available for a handful of other languages. Thunderbird 2.0 shipped in 33 languages. We’re adding more languages all the time; Firefox 2 is now available in 44 languages and Thunderbird in 36. The translation and localization work for these languages is overwhelmingly done by volunteers who want to see Firefox and Thunderbird optimized for their culture and then vetted through our Quality Assurance team. This is demanding work, often done on a tight time frame. It reflects much of what makes Mozilla great: people’s willingness, even eagerness, to commit time and energy to create something worthwhile. The results bear out the importance of this work: today about half of Firefox usage is in a language other than English.
Mozilla is best known for the Firefox web browser, but the Mozilla community creates many other things as well. This includes the Thunderbird mail client, and a set of other significant projects such as Bugzilla, SeaMonkey (cross platform browing and mail integrated product), Camino (Mac-only browser), Sunbird (calendar application), and Lightning (calendar add-on for Thunderbird). Thousands of people create new functionality for Mozilla products through the mechanism known as add-ons. In addition, people and companies are using Mozilla technology to create whole new applications, ranging from video browsing to music to specialized “in-house” applications.
Impact in the Industry
The Mozilla mission is not simply to be a successful open source project. It is also to develop an Internet where choice, innovation, participation, individual empowerment and public benefit are integral to the fabric of online life. It’s a big vision, and we’re making progress. Already about 120 million people use Firefox and enjoy a safer, more personal browsing experience. Millions use the Thunderbird email client and enjoy an open email experience.
This userbase makes Mozilla relevant to the Internet industry. We’ve always had high mindshare but combining mindshare with a significant number of users makes an enormous difference. As a result, good things happen. For example:
1. Web content is increasingly written to be accessible through Firefox and other standards-focused browsers. This is a fundamental requirement for keeping the Internet a good place. It’s a prerequisite for individuals to have choice and for commercial players to have room to innovate.
2. We are able to drive innovation into the open, interoperable layer of the Internet rather than see it end up in the closed, controlled communities of commercial platforms. An example of this is video. We are working publicly on a shared specification that allows videos to be manipulated in the browser like other content. We have the technology working already. By “manipulate” I mean much more than watching a video, a la YouTube. I mean being able to combine, rotate, overlap, cut and paste video just as we do text today. You can see the possibilities here. This might seem obvious until one realizes that there are commercial initiatives underway to demonstrate that video should be manipulated not so much through the web, but through closed, proprietary development environments and plug-ins. An environment where a single software vendor controls the formats, and ultimately controls whether people using Firefox or other browsers can see the content that results.
3. Innovation is flourishing. Thousands of people have created and tested improvements to human interaction with the Internet. Some of these have been significant commercial successes, such as StumbleUpon which started with a Firefox-specific product and later moved to other browsers.
5. Safety and security of Internet life can be improved. Firefox users have been at risk far, far less frequently than people who use the dominant browser. Mozilla is regularly cited as an example of how to respond when alleged safety issues are uncovered. Our approach to security allows more people to do more to protect themselves and others.
6. Public benefit, civic and social value become components of the Internet’s future, complementing the creation of private economic value.
7. Millions of people who would not otherwise know of or care about open source software are exposed to it and experience its power.
Mozilla is a global community of people working together to build a better Internet. We work to build an Internet that is open, participatory and exciting. We create a portion of the Internet that is a public asset, forever dedicated to public benefit.
We do this through by building communities of people who believe in this mission and enjoy working together to make this happen. It’s an inspiring task. It’s hard work. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. And it’s growing.
Mozilla is growing because people choose to join us, because individual human beings make a decision to take action. People participate in a myriad of ways, from building our software to telling others about our goals.
We can make the impact of the Internet on our lives better — better than it will be if Mozilla doesn’t exist; better than we can imagine.
If you are already a Mozilla participant, I urge you to take a moment and reflect on the contributions that together we are making to online life. If you’re not yet a participant, now is a great time to join us.
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.
March 9th, 2007
Chris Blizzard was in town last week and came to dinner. Chris has been active with the Mozilla project since the very early days. He somehow convinced Red Hat to pay him to work full time on Mozilla way back in 1999 and has been involved since. Chris stopped working on code a while back; he was one of the original Mozilla Foundation board members, and is now a Mozilla Corporation Board Member.
Chris is also deep into the One Laptop Per Child project, working primarily on software aspects. Red Hat supports Chris in this work — kudos to Red Hat!
Anyway, Chris was in town so he joined us for dinner one night. Here’s what it looks like when Chris comes to visit:
Yup. That’s 4 people (including one 8 to 10 year old) and six — count ’em, six — computers around the dining room table. As you can see, the OLPC sample was warmly received.
(For those interested, here is demographic moment number 1.)
March 13th, 2006
As part of talking about organization, goals, etc. it might be helpful for me to lay out where I think things stand today. To the extent other people agree we’ve got something written down. To the extent others have corrections, changes and disagreements we can identify those and start discussions. I’ll start with the Corporation.
1. Mozilla Corporation Employees. The Mozilla Corporation has about 40 people working for it now. That’s about 40 “FTEs” or” full-time equivalents.” Some people work part time. Most of those employees are in the United States or Canada. That’s partly because of the history of people working on the project from before the Foundation/Corporation were formed. It’s also in part because it is difficult to hire people without having a legal organization in the country in which they live. It’s hard for the Mozilla Corporation to hire people in Europe of Asia without having either a series of branch offices or forming subsidiaries. We are able to engage people as contractors in some cases, and try to do this when the work involved fits with the legal definition of “contractor” applicable to us and the potential contractor. One of the things on our list of things to do is to try to figure out how to improve this. I’m distressed at the idea of forming more legal organizations. But the difficulties in not able to hire people outside the US and Canada is a bigger problem. More legal organizations is annoying but living with the limits on hiring is something that has to change.
The largest number of Mozilla Corporation employees in a single place are in Mountain View, California. The next largest concentration is in and around Toronto. Others are spread out, often one person to a locale.
2. Mozilla Corporation Revenues. The Mozilla Corporation pays its employees from the revenues we receive from our product. We are very fortunate in that the search feature in Firefox is both appreciated by our users and generates revenue in the tens of millions of dollars. People sometimes ask if there are other features from which we could make money. The short answer is: We don’t know. Perhaps search is the only feature that will both benefit users and generate this kind of revenue. We’ve seen browsers that appear to have sold off all sorts of features and links to website with an eye to revenue rather than helping people make sense of the web. We won’t do that. The people working on the product couldn’t stand it and our users would abandon such a product.
I sometimes hear people refer to Firefox’s “Google bar.” I understand this but it’s not quite accurate. The Search Box has Google as default in many languages, but always has options for the consumer to choose. I think it’s a *big deal* that both Google and Yahoo are next to each other in the same product so that consumers can choose. (The UI for this is tough, I agree about that.) And Yahoo is the default search for Japanese, Chinese and Korean. So if you are using Firefox in those languages the “Google bar” wouldn’t make sense.
We’ve been using the money generated from the search providers exclusively to build the capabilities of the Mozilla project. We’ve hired people. We’ve built a much more robust infrastructure. (This may not sound like a big deal, but the server load of what we’re doing with update and extensions is significant.) We’ve got a “reserve fund” now which I view as extremely important. Having savings means that people are much more likely to believe us when we say we will turn down revenue if it doesn’t benefit the user. We’ve always said this, and we’ve meant it. Or to be more personal, I’ve always said it and meant it. One sounds naïve when one says this, particularly to large commercial enterprises. It helps people comprehend my statements when we have a reserve fund that allows us to operate whether or not we’re interested in them.
In the near future the Corporation will be looking at how to disperse some of the funds generated outside of our corporate structure (and here I mean outside both the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation). I’ve been told by some people that this is risky and that the thought of money distorts the community. I’m sure all that is possible. But we do have money in the project now and some of it should get spent on a project-wide basis unrelated to employment. I’m hoping we can do this in a way that reflects our community organization and distributed authority. I’m not sure what the mechanism is yet but I know it needs to happen.
3. More Topics. Now that I’ve started, there’s a lot more to say. Topics that are on “the tip of my tongue” include: the health of the community, the relationship between the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation; long-term goals of the Mozilla project; developing a more open communications style in non-code topics; how do coordination and “management” fit in; what roles has the Mozilla Corporation been hiring for and why. But in the spirit of writing more informal, *digestible* posts I’ll stop here now and put those thoughts in separate posts.