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 “history”
November 18th, 2010
August 31st, 2010
I’ve known Dan Mosedale a long time. He was already at Netscape working in the browser realm when I arrived in the fall of 1994. In fact, of all the people working on Mozilla and browsers in the world today, I think Dan was probably the first. Not the person with the longest continual history (Dan has taken some breaks), but the first chronologically.
I got to know Dan well when we both joined Mozilla full time in 1999. We had both been working on Mozilla part-time since before its founding, Dan on the IT/infrastructure side and me on the MPL and organizational aspects. We both joined Brendan at Mozilla full time at the same time in early 1999, as did Mike Shaver. In that era the very small group of us managing the project were known as “mozilla.org staff.”
In the next few years mozilla.org staff (which also came to include Myk, Asa and Marcia) made a number of decisions about the Mozilla project that we know put our jobs at Netscape/ AOL at risk. Each time we would all look at each other and make sure we understood what we were doing. We would plan how to keep mozilla.org up and running. In this we had support from many other long time Mozilla contributors who are with Mozilla today, including Chris Hofmann who ultimately became the liaison between mozilla.org staff and Netscape/ AOL after our decisions did cause me to be fired (technically “laid off”).
A couple years ago I mentioned to Dan that I had decided to learn to ice skate, since there’s a skating rink near my house. Dan suggested I try hockey, that despite its appearance it can be much less risky and worrisome than figure skating. I recall vividly his comment that once he has all his gear on, falling became mostly irrelevant. I’ve remembered this each time I’ve fallen without pads — the ice can be hard. Not every fall hurts, but the idea of falling is inhibiting.
Saturday night was Give Hockey a Try Day, with a session at the local rink. The Northern California Women’s Hockey League, a volunteer organization focused on getting women to play and enjoy hockey, takes this seriously. Members donate their gear for the session. They invite women of all skill levels and all ages. (One current coach had no idea how to skate when she started.) Members come with their gear, members come to help neophytes get dressed, member coaches come and get everyone out on the ice. In two hours you go from never having worn hockey skates or held a hockey stick to passing and scrimmaging. Poor quality scrimmaging for sure, but also sometimes hysterically funny as a result. The great thing is that once you’re thinking about the puck, you stop worry about the skating.
In Dan’s honor I rammed myself into the wall to make myself fall. He was right — it was barely noticeable, and not remotely inhibiting.
The NCWHL folks were universally positive and supportive. They end the event with a gear sale so that newcomers can get somewhat worn-out gear for very little money and get started in league play without a lot of expense. I travel too much and have far too little time to add anything structured to my life but still love the sense of racing around the ice not worried about knees and elbows and jaws.
The evening also reminded me of how astonishing people can be when they love what they are doing. As Esther Dyson keeps reminding me, a vibrant civil society is an awesome thing.
June 7th, 2009
Two artifacts from the Mozilla 1.0 release have got my mind spinning. They are the Mozilla press release for Mozilla 1.0, thoughtfully reprinted in part in an article by Glyn Moody at ComputerWorld, and the T-shirt Tristan posted.
First I noticed how consistent how core message has been. Here’s a couple of excerpts:
Mozilla.org is excited about releasing the Mozilla 1.0 code and development tools to the open source community, and providing developers with the resources they need to freely create and view the presentation of their content and data on the Web,” said Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler at mozilla.org. “As the browser has become the main interface between users and the Web over the past several years, the goal of the Mozilla project is to innovate and enable the creation of standards-compliant technology to keep content on the Web open.”
Mozilla 1.0 will be available in the following languages (with more to follow): Asturian, Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, Galician, German,Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Polish, Slovak, Sorbian and Ukrainian.
The message from 7 years ago was focused at developers and not so much on consumers, but it’s the same message. Open content and data, standards, Mozilla as a platform enabling many people to innovate, the importance of the browser to the general state of the Web, and the importance of a multi-language Web — these are key themes today as then.
Second, I’m struck by how we have expanded our reach by reaching out to consumers as well as developers. In the early days, the idea was that Mozilla would build technology, and others (such as Netscape) would build products. In fact, in the the very early days some people felt that Mozilla would release only source code, that even releasing an executable version was beyond the scope of the project. Clearly we’ve come a long way.
Tristan’s shirt shows the developer focus. How does one announce the release of a product? By closing a bug, of course. How does one represent this on a t-shirt? By printing the URL of the bug-tracking system. Today we complement the developer focus with a consumer focus as well. That’s a big change.
Finally, I must have worked on that press release in the cold and funky downstairs computer zone in my house — 2002 was during the period in which I was a volunteer at Mozilla after being “laid off” by Netscape / AOL in the fall of 2001. Next week I’ll move to a new Mozilla office. It’s a long way from 2002.
June 4th, 2009
We started building Mozilla browsers 11 years ago now. Our first “product” release was Mozilla 1.0, on June 5, 2002. Wired reminded me of this today, in a nice historical piece on the 7th anniversary. I find it extremely gratifying that Wired, as well as others, remembers that first release and choose to note its anniversary. It wasn’t Firefox, but we were proud of Mozilla 1.0, and I still think rightly so.
The anniversary has my mind spinning about a project that’s been kicking around in various forms. I would like to create a sort of timeline of Mozilla that is personal. Somewhat related to the existing timeline project, but focused on Mozilla contributors rather than events. I’d like to have some way to visualize when people came to Mozilla, what brought each of us. I have a story to tell, and I’m sure most active contributors do. I’d like to collect these somehow, with a way to visualize it. In other words, not just text or stories or books or posts, but something that makes use of the stunning ability we have today to visualize and interact with data.
Any ideas welcome.
June 30th, 2008
Late last week a colleague expressed dismay that we didn’t have either a recorded version or a text version of the brief comments I made from Seoul via Air Mozilla on the release day of Firefox 3. So I took my notes and put them together into something that is close — certainly in spirit — though not exact.
Every once in a while — for those people who are really lucky — we get to experience a moment where everything comes together. A period where dreams and hard work merge together with remarkable results.
This is such a time for Mozilla.
It’s based on hard work and execution of course. The number of people who have done something unexpected in the last few months, something that changes the outcome, is very high. But that’s only part of it. And there are plenty of times in life — most of life for most people, in fact — where people work hard and pour themselves into their effort but don’t experience the lift and buoyancy of sense of validation.
The periods that are so memorable often involve a team of people, and something that makes that group of people cohesive and satisfying. Sometimes these periods involve working on something that seems giant, hard to achieve and meaningful. Often then involve many things coming together in a way almost didn’t seem possible. And they involve a response from the world at large that demonstrates all the work and energy was worth it.
It’s incredibly fortunate to experience this at all. And it’s intensely gratifying to see these things come together for Mozilla. It’s not just Firefox, it’s the entire Mozilla community. Firefox reflects the Mozilla community, giving us a chance to see how broad and deep the Mozilla world is, and how much can be accomplished. Eight million people — not only aware of a piece of software but acting on that awareness — in a day is astonishing.
The excitement isn’t all about a piece of software. The real activity is about the Internet. It’s about people not just using but also creating the Internet; creating an experience that is fun, safe, and productive. The Internet is a big deal. The ability to participate in creating it is a big deal. It’s rare that such a fundamental resource can be created by voluntary individual participation.
We can see that people sense the opportunity, want to participate, want to build and are more willing to share than might have been expected. We see this in the open source world, we see it in activities like Wikipedia, we see it in the growing range of activities using an “open source” model.
Mozilla has a role to play here. What a great place to be.
March 31st, 2008
Today is a special day.
March 31, 1998 is the date that Mozilla was officially launched. It’s the date the first Mozilla code became publicly available under the terms of an official open source license and a governing body for the project — the Mozilla Organization — began its public work. It’s always been known in Mozilla parlance as “3/31.” We’ll be celebrating Mozilla’s 10 year anniversary throughout 2008. Today I want to look at our first ten years, and a bit at the next ten years.
Ten years ago a radical idea took shape. The idea was that an open source community could create choice and innovation in key Internet technologies where large, commercial vendors could not. This idea took shape as the Mozilla project.
Mozilla was not the first group to pursue this idea. GNU/Linux and the BSD operating systems were already providing a very effective alternative at the server-side operating system level; the Apache web server was already proving that an open source solution could be effective even in areas where the commercial players were actively competing. Each of these gave strength to the idea that this new effort could be successful.
At its inception, Mozilla was:
- An open source codebase for the software we call the browser
- A group of people to build and lead an open source development effort — the Mozilla Organization (also known as “mozilla.org”)
- A larger group of people committed to the idea — and the enormous work involved — in building a browser we all needed
- An open source license granting everyone expansive rights to use the code for their own goals — the Mozilla Public License (which is now at version 1.1)
- A website
- A mascot (the orange T-rex, alternatively referred to as a lizard)
During the years since 3/31 we have taken that radical idea and proved its power. We have broadened the idea beyond anything imagined at our founding. And in the next ten years we’ll continue to be radical about building fundamental qualities such as openness, participation, opportunity, choice and innovation into the basic infrastructure of the Internet itself.
What have we accomplished?
- Converted a closed, proprietary development process into a vibrant, transparent, open source project.
- Grown into a massive global community, quite possibly the largest open source project in the world
- Developed exceptional technology
- Developed a set of long-term, vibrant projects — Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Camino, Bugzilla, Calendar –most, and possibly all of which have millions of users
- Become the software provider of choice for over 170 million people
- Proved that open source development can product great end user products
- Brought the Internet to millions of people in their language
- Moved the overall state of browser software forward dramatically
- Become a technology platform others use to create products built on Mozilla technologies, and in some cases competitive with Mozilla products
- Developed and implemented systems and community norms for a massive distribution of authority
- Conducted all sorts of new activities in a transparent and participatory way, including product planning, marketing, public speaking, UI and organizational decisions
- Developed a reputation that people trust and feel they have helped create
- Developed a sustainability model using market mechanisms to support a public benefit mission
- Become a significant force in the development of Internet technology industry-wide
- Developed a sophisticated organization that can — for example — service, update and respond to 170 million users
- Built and operated giant open-source web applications — where the source code that runs the application IS open source and available to others;
- Articulated our mission in broad, non-technical term
- Encouraged others to try open, transparent and collaborative techniques in a broad range of activities
- Created public assets of enormous value
That’s a lot. And we’re not done yet. The next ten years have challenges and opportunities equal to those of our first decade. The Internet is now interwoven into modern life, and it will certainly grow to be more powerful. There’s no guarantee that it will remain open or enjoyable or safe. There’s no guarantee that individuals will be able to participate in creating or (for the general non-technical consumer) effectively managing their experience. There’s no guarantee that there is an effective voice for individuals benefiting from the increased power of the Internet.
Mozilla can and should fulfill this role. But not as a guarantor. Mozilla is an opportunity for people to make this vision happen. Mozilla is about opportunity and participation. Mozilla is people getting involved, “doing” things, creating the Internet experience we want to live with. We’re not alone in doing this. Other open source and free software projects play a strong role, as do other organizations focused on participation, collaboration, and openness.
We want the Internet to be an open environment, where it’s easy to innovate, and where individuals, small groups and newcomers all have rich opportunities to create and lead. So, we’ll build technologies and products that make this happen. Mozilla offers each person who wants to see this happen an opportunity to do something. Using Mozilla products is an important step in its own right — every person using Mozilla products makes our voice stronger. And there is much, much more that any one of us can do.
What do we know is ahead of us?
- Hundreds of millions of people relying on us for the quality of their Internet experience
- Ensuring that the Open Web itself remains the developer platform of choice for new web applications; providing a compelling alternative to closed, proprietary development environments
- Bringing openness and consumer choice to the mobile environment as we have to the desktop world
- Handling data in a more transparent, participatory way for general consumers
- Bringing openness, paticipation and opportunity to more — and as yet mostly undetermined — aspects of Internet life
- Evolving the “browser” to support the new things we’re doing on the Internet
- Creating a new style of global organization: one where local involvement around the globe has increasing project-wide influence
- Broadening the sustainability options for “hybrid” organizations — that is, organizations that support public benefit activities through market funding mechanisms as well as traditional fundraising
And these are just the things we can see today. Many of the best, most exciting activities of the next ten years will seem to come from nowhere. In reality they will come from people combining their own ingenuity with Mozilla tools, techniques, technologies to build new, wildly innovative aspects to life that none of us can imagine today. And because the Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization we are focused on creating the maximum possible public benefit rather than revenue. We don’t limit how people can use our technology to maximize revenue; we encourage people to challenge us to be better.
Opportunity, Challenge, Excitement, Fun
During much of our first ten years people “knew” that our goal of creating choice and innovation in the browser space was impossible. From that perspective we have achieved the impossible. It certainly wasn’t easy, but here we are today in a radically different setting.
The challenges before us are great. But the opportunity is many times larger. We have the ability to affect aspects of Internet architecture and user experience. We have the organization, we have the frameworks we need to work in, we have the voice. And most important of all, we have the Mozilla community. The many thousands of people actively engaged, and the multiples of that who support Mozilla goals and offerings.
It’s our world. Let’s make it great.
February 25th, 2008
[Note: I was traveling and unexpectedly without Internet access last week, so this post is a few days late.]
Ten years ago Netscape planted a seed by launching an organization to create an open source development process for future generation browsers. At the time no one knew how that seed would grow, what kind of open source project would develop, how we would build the key aspects of open source and free software development — transparency, leadership through respect, peer review, participation — into the Mozilla project.
Today we know. We’ve built a vibrant open-source project. We’ve built phenomenal products in an extraordinarily competitive environment. We’ve built communities of people who know that their participation makes a difference in their Internet experience. We’ve built opportunities for people to participate in improving their digital lives. We’ve built an organization that no one could have predicted, that has defied all manner of difficulties and flourished.
We continue to build these things today.
Here is the beginning of that organization:
NETSCAPE ANNOUNCES MOZILLA.ORG, A DEDICATED TEAM AND WEB SITE SUPPORTING DEVELOPMENT OF FREE CLIENT SOURCE CODE
DEVELOPER COMMUNITY WILL GAIN ACCESS TO FREE CLIENT SOURCE CODE, INFORMATION AND OPEN DIALOGUE; INTERNET ADVOCATES CALL MOVE A WIN-WIN FOR CUSTOMERS AND DEVELOPER COMMUNITY ALIKE
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (February 23, 1998) – Netscape Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:NSCP) today announced the creation of mozilla.org, a dedicated team within Netscape with an associated Web site that will promote, foster and guide open dialog and development of Netscape’s client source code. As a follow-on to Netscape’s recent announcement to make the first developer release of Communicator 5.0 source code available for free, mozilla.org will act as a focal point for developers who are interested in modifying and redistributing Netscape client source.Accessible today by going to www.mozilla.org, the Web site will provide a central point of contact and community by encouraging developers to download the client source code, post their enhancements, take part in newsgroup discussions, and obtain and share Communicator-related information with Netscape and others in the Internet community. The mozilla.org site is also accessible through Netscape’s developer Web site at developer.netscape.com.”By making our source code available to the Internet community, Netscape can expand its client software leadership by integrating the best enhancements from a broad array of developers,” said Marc Andreessen, executive vice president of products for Netscape. “This Netscape team will be dedicated to assisting developers in the development of the source code, building a community that addresses markets and needs we can’t address on our own and allowing our customers to reap the benefits through access to superior products.”
“The popularity and success of Apache, the Linux operating system, the BSD version of UNIX and many other software applications prove the value and impact of open source development,” said Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. “By introducing mozilla.org, Netscape has created an environment that will bring the best of the Internet to a common locale, encouraging developers to create quality products for end users.”
“Netscape is the first major company to exploit the power of the open source strategy,” said Eric S. Raymond, open-source developer and advocate. “Making their client software source code free to developers is a bold move that will do great things for their products.”
As previously announced, Netscape plans to make Netscape Communicator 5.0 source code available to developers and the Internet community beginning later this quarter with the first developer release of the product. More information is accessible today by going to www.mozilla.org or by accessing Netscape’s DevEdge site.
January 22nd, 2008
2008 is a year to celebrate — Mozilla turns 10 this year. 10 years of open source history, commitment, product development, community building and accomplishments. An open source project of astonishing scope and diversity. A portion of the Internet that is more open and participatory than almost anyone imagined. A strong voice for what the Internet can be. That’s 10 amazing years.
2008 is a year to celebrate our history, our accomplishments, our community and our future. We have laid the groundwork for another great 10 years — years where we can influence the web for the better, demonstrate what openness, transparency and broad participation look like, marvel at the distributed excitement and fierce dedication to the Mozilla vision for the Internet, and do things we haven’t even dreamed up yet.
I really do mean a year to celebrate. Not one day, not even the actual date the code was released. That’s an important date and we’ll certainly celebrate it. But the code release was one part of what was a much larger effort 10 years ago, and is a much larger story today. 1998 saw some great accomplishments, and we’ll celebrate them this year. The project has seen great accomplishments all through this first decade, and we should celebrate these as well.
I don’t have precisely formed ideas yet for how we ought to mark our anniversary events. In general though, I’m intent on making sure that our activities are:
a) International in scope: notable events that take place around the globe.
b) Participatory. We’ve had crate-your-own parties in the past; that’s a good start. ‘d like to see us do some other things as well this year. Perhaps we might have a way for people to record their experiences with some event in Mozilla’s history. Perhaps we will create a timeline where people can note the various events they feel have been critical to the Mozilla project (this is not my idea). These are only early ideas; there’s lots of room for creativity here.
If you’ve got ideas, let me know (or Mary Colvig — mary at mozilla dot com). We may come up with some other tools for making planning easier, but comments here are a good start.
January 22nd, 2008
Anyone remember this?
NETSCAPE ANNOUNCES PLANS TO MAKE NEXT-GENERATION COMMUNICATOR SOURCE CODE AVAILABLE FREE ON THE NET
BOLD MOVE TO HARNESS CREATIVE POWER OF THOUSANDS OF INTERNET DEVELOPERS; COMPANY MAKES NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR AND COMMUNICATOR 4.0 IMMEDIATELY FREE FOR ALL USERS, SEEDING MARKET FOR ENTERPRISE AND NETCENTER BUSINESSES
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (January 22, 1998) — Netscape Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: NSCP) today announced bold plans to make the source code for the next generation of its highly popular Netscape Communicator client software available for free licensing on the Internet. The company plans to post the source code beginning with the first Netscape Communicator 5.0 developer release, expected by the end of the first quarter of 1998. This aggressive move will enable Netscape to harness the creative power of thousands of programmers on the Internet by incorporating their best enhancements into future versions of Netscape’s software. This strategy is designed to accelerate development and free distribution by Netscape of future high-quality versions of Netscape Communicator to business customers and individuals, further seeding the market for Netscape’s enterprise solutions and Netcenter business.
In addition, the company is making its currently available Netscape Navigator and Communicator Standard Edition 4.0 software products immediately free for all users. With this action, Netscape makes it easier than ever for individuals at home, at school or at work to choose the world’s most popular Internet client software as their preferred interface to the Internet.
“The time is right for us to take the bold action of making our client free – and we are going even further by committing to post the source code for free for Communicator 5.0,” said Jim Barksdale, Netscape’s president and chief executive officer. “By giving away the source code for future versions, we can ignite the creative energies of the entire Net community and fuel unprecedented levels of innovation in the browser market. Our customers can benefit from world-class technology advancements; the development community gains access to a whole new market opportunity; and Netscape’s core businesses benefit from the proliferation of the market-leading client software.”
Netscape plans to make Netscape Communicator 5.0 source code available for modification and redistribution beginning later this quarter with the first developer release of the product. The company will handle free source distribution with a license which allows source code modification and redistribution and provides for free availability of source code versions, building on the heritage of the GNU Public License (GPL), familiar to developers on the Net. Netscape intends to create a special Web site service where all interested parties can download the source code, post their enhancements, take part in newsgroup discussions, and obtain and share Communicator-related information with others in the Internet community. Netscape will also continue to develop new technologies and offer periodic certified, high-quality, supported releases of its Netscape Communicator and Navigator products, incorporating some of the best features created by this dynamic community.
The ubiquity of Netscape’s client software facilitates Netscape’s strategy of linking millions of individuals to businesses. Today’s announcements will help to further proliferate Netscape’s award-winning client software which today has an installed base of more than 68 million, providing a ready market for businesses using Netscape’s Networked Enterprise software solutions and Netscape Netcenter services. Netscape’s research indicates that in the education market where Netscape’s products are free, the Netscape client software commands approximately 90 percent share, indicating that users tend to choose Netscape when the choice is freely available. Making its browser software free also will enable Netscape to continue to drive Internet standards, maximize the number of users on the Internet, and expand the third-party community of companies and products that take advantage of the Netscape software platform.
Netscape has successfully shifted its business over the past year toward enterprise software sales and to revenues from its Web site business, and away from standalone client revenues. In the third quarter of 1997, standalone client revenues represented approximately 18 percent of Netscape’s revenue, with the rest coming from enterprise software, services and the Web site. Preliminary results for the fourth quarter of 1997, which Netscape announced January 5, show standalone client revenues decreased to approximately 13 percent in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter of 1996 by comparison, standalone client revenue represented approximately 45 percent of Netscape’s revenue.
In conjunction with its free client, Netscape separately announced today that it is launching a host of enhanced products and services that leverage its free client software to make it easy for enterprise and individual customers to adopt Netscape solutions. The new products and services reinforce Netscape’s strategy of leveraging market penetration of its popular client software and its busy Internet site to seed further sales of Netscape software solutions in the home and business markets. The new products and services include enhanced subscription and support packages, an investment protection program for Netscape Communicator users, new reduced pricing on Netscape’s retail and enterprise client products, new Premium Services on its Netscape Netcenter online service and Netscape SuiteSpot server software upgrades featuring Netscape client software.
In addition, the company separately announced the launch of an aggressive new software distribution program called “Unlimited Distribution” to broadly distribute its market-leading Internet client software for free. Unlimited Distribution enables Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), telecommunications companies, Web content providers, publishers and software developers to download and redistribute Netscape Communicator and Netscape Navigator easily with “no strings attached.” In addition, beginning immediately, individual users can download Netscape Communicator or Navigator for free, register for Netscape Netcenter and, beginning tomorrow, enter the Choose Netscape Sweepstakes to win exciting travel-related prizes including a grand prize of two all-inclusive, seven-night tropical resort vacations.
Individuals can download a free copy of Netscape Communicator client software or the Netscape Navigator browser from the Netscape home page at http://home.netscape.com, or by clicking on any of the thousands of “Netscape Now” buttons on the Internet. Netscape Communicator Professional Edition, which adds features for enterprise customers, will be available for US$29.
Netscape Communications Corporation is a premier provider of open software for linking people and information over enterprise networks and the Internet. The company offers a full line of Netscape Navigator clients, servers, development tools and commercial applications to create a complete platform for next-generation, live online applications. Traded on NASDAQ under the symbol “NSCP,” Netscape Communications Corporation is based in Mountain View, California.
Additional information on Netscape Communications Corporation is available on the Internet at http://home.netscape.com, by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 650/937-2555 (corporate customers) or 650/937-3777 (individuals).
January 12th, 2008
Mitch Kapor recently announced the end of his involvement with the Open Source Applications Foundation and the Chandler project. Included in his comments is the brief note that:
OSAF also served as the fiscal sponsor for the Mozilla Foundation between its spinout from AOL/Netscape and when it secured its own tax-exempt non-profit status. In that respect, it played a small but important role in the great Firefox success story.
This is absolutely true but dramatically understates Mitch’s and OSAF’s role in helping Mozilla. Mitch began assisting Mozilla in late 2002. This was long before discussion with AOL about the the Mozilla Foundation began. 2002 was not the best of times for Mozilla. There was no Firefox. Our product was the Mozilla Application Suite. It was a good product, released in mid 2002. It far exceeded what anyone had expected us to produce and I remain proud of it to this day. But it wasn’t a well-adopted product. It wasn’t glamourous; it wasn’t elegant. It wasn’t the product that would spread like wildfire.
Mitch didn’t help Mozilla to join the bandwagon of something exciting. Mitch helped us because he knew that open source applications are important, and he knew that the browser’s place in an open source ecosystem is critical. I suspect we appeared more like an “ugly duckling” than anything exciting. But Mitch has a good eye for recognizing important things and he stepped up to help us.
I was working on Mozilla as a volunteer at the time, and had been doing so for about a year. I had been laid off from Netscape in early September of 2001. (I actually met Mitch face-to-face for the first time the day I was laid off from AOL. The meeting with Mitch was, as far as I can remember, the only thing that I did after I received the lay-off notice and before I left the building. At the time I knew it was interesting to meet Mitch, but I had no idea what that meeting would set in motion.) In late 2002 Mitch and I talked about me working at OSAF. I said I only wanted to work part-time because I wanted to keep volunteering with Mozilla. Mitch not only agreed, OSAF agreed to subsidize something like a day of week of my time for Mozilla.
Mitch and OSAF’s support of Mozilla grew from there. When the chance came to form the Mozilla Foundation Mitch’s assistance was invaluable. There was financial assistance. There was also Mitch’s personal involvement in helping the Mozilla Foundation get started and strengthening my courage to be responsible for the welfare of our initial employees and the fund-raising we expected to need. (Remember, at that time there was no Firefox, no Google, very little interest in the then-obscure piece of software known as the browser, and no obvious sources of funds.) A number of people thought we should take the $2MM pledge from AOL, hire 2 or 3 people to keep the machines running, and try to last as long as possible. Brendan and I knew more was required but it was a lot to take on. Mitch brought a level of sophistication and assistance that made a big difference in our ability to lay the foundations of the organization we know today. His assistance to me personally was enormous.
The Mozilla Foundation would have come into existence in some form without Mitch — an astonishingly dedicated and talented group of people were determined to see this happen. But it would not have started life anywhere near as strong without Mitch. Even with Mitch’s help, my role in building and funding the Mozilla Foundation was almost more than I could manage. Mitch’s involvement made a big difference. Mitch remains a member of the Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors and I continue to value his input enormously.