Posts Tagged with “people”

Brief Update — CEO Search

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.

Planned Leadership Transition

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‚Äôs 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.

Eyeballs with Wallets

July 21st, 2009

Here’s the business approach of the then-current CEO of a very well-known Internet company. (He’s gone now.)

  • get eyeballs looking at my site
  • find or create content that keeps them at my site as long as possible
  • monetize them as much as possible while they’re there

There are times when each of us will be happy to be a pair of eyeballs with a wallet attached, to be a “monitizable unit.” In our physical lives this is a little like going to the mall. I may “window-shop” and I may enjoy a comfortable environment. But there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the point of the mall is to for people to purchase things.

There are times, however, when being a wallet attached to eyeballs is not enough. The possibilities available to us online should be broader, just as they are in the physical world. Sometimes we choose to skip the mall and go to the library, or the town square or the park or the museum or the playground or the school. Sometimes we choose activities that are not about consumption, but are about learning and creation and improving the environment around us.

We have public spaces for these activities in our physical lives. We have public assets, and the idea of building some part of our infrastructure for public benefit as a necessary complement to private economic activity.

Mozilla strives to bring this public aspect, this sense of compete human beings, the goal of enriching the full range of human activities to the Internet. We envision a world where the Internet is built to support these varied aspects of the human experience; a world where robust economic activity lives alongside vibrant social, civic and individual enrichment.

We’re building this world so that we can all live in it.

I Am Not A Number

July 13th, 2009

What’s the most interesting thing about the Internet today? To me, it’s not an application, it’s not a technology, it’s not a characteristic like “social.” The most interesting thing about the Internet is me. My experiences. And you. And your experiences.

I can name a set of applications that are important to me today. Tomorrow and next month and next year that set will be different. The things I want to do will be different. The types of information I want to access and share will vary. I will want to integrate some information across all the applications and sites I access. I will want to maintain some information under my control and share subsets of it selectively with Web applications. I’ll want to be able to access a website or its information with a very precise and rich identity, so the site delivers a highly personalized response. Other times I’ll want a general identity or anonymity so I see information which I can filter for myself.

In other words, I don’t want to be the invisible part of my life. Not in my physical life and not in my online life. I want to have a presence that is me. That presence won’t be a pre-existing Web application. It won’t be a number or an identity managed by a Web application. That presence will be an odd collection of information and approaches and unexpected connections that is the online manifestation of who I am. It will be idiosyncratic, it will be flawed, but it will be me.

Mozilla’s New Focus on Thunderbird and Internet Communications

September 17th, 2007

Mozilla has been investing in email since the Foundation was created. We have a good, solid client in Thunderbird, and we have aspirations to do more. We’ve spent the last few months working on how to meet those aspirations. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the discussions.

The result is that Mozilla is launching a new effort to improve email and internet communications. We will increase our investment and focus on our current email client — Thunderbird — and on innovations in the email and communications areas. We are doing so by creating a new organization with this as its sole focus and committing resources to this organization. The new organization doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ll call it MailCo here. MailCo will be part of the Mozilla Foundation and will serve the public benefit mission of the Mozilla Foundation. (Technically, it will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, just like the Mozilla Corporation.)

David Ascher is joining Mozilla to lead MailCo. David has been an active participant in the Mozilla project for many years, both in his role as CTO of ActiveState and personally through participation in our governance discussions. In fact it was one if David’s comments on an early draft of the Mozilla Manifesto that helped crystallize its structure. David also has deep experience in the open source world and is a member of the board of directors of the Python Foundation. David also brings familiarity with Mozilla technology and the Mozilla community through years of using Mozilla technology to build ActiveState products, including the new Open Komodo project. We are very fortunate to have David join us to lead this effort.

Mozilla will provide an initial $3 million dollars in seed funding to launch MailCo. This is expected to be spent mostly on building a small team of people who are passionate about email and Internet communications. As MailCo develops it and the Mozilla Foundation will evaluate what’s the best model for long-term sustainability. Mozilla may well invest additional funds; we also hope that there are other paths for sustainability.

We’ll be setting up MailCo in the coming weeks. Part of this is forming the team of people, part is developing a transition plan to move Thunderbird into MailCo gracefully while supporting the Thunderbird users. That will take some time. We’re on the path now though and that’s a great thing.

The goals for the new company are:

  • Take care of Thunderbird users
  • Move Thunderbird forward to provide better, deeper email solutions
  • Create a better user experience for a range of Internet communications — how does / should email work with IM, RSS, VoIP, SMS, site-specific email, etc?
  • Spark the types of community involvement and innovation that we’ve seen around web “browsing” and Firefox.

One of the things I find most exciting about the Firefox work is the way people use Firefox to dream up what the web could be, and then go out and so something to make it happen.We can spark the same kind of excitement and energy level and innovation in the email/communications space. And when we do, Internet life will get much, much better and much more interesting.

Help us make it happen.

Executive Director Search Committee

July 17th, 2007

I’m pleased to introduce the members of the search committee for the Mozilla Foundation Executive Director.

Dan Mosedale: Dan has long experience in Mozilla governance, as well as experience with multiple products, from the Mozilla Application Suite to calendar to Firefox. Dan joined Mozilla as a member of staff in the early, early days. Later he moved to the product group to work on LDAP and related capabilities. He spent a few years away from the project in daily life, but never in spirit. Dan returned to the Mozilla project a few years back when he joined Oracle to work on the Mozilla calendar project. Dan remained at Oracle as the lone Mozilla developer for some time after the Mozilla team there disbanded. He moved to the Mozilla Corporation a while back, worked as the lead calendar developer, and has most recently moved to working on Firefox.

Deb Richardson: Deb is a long-time member of the Linux world, and one of the founders of the Linuxchix. She came to the Mozilla project a few years back. Deb’s initial challenge was to create a useful developer documentation site. We had always known our documentation was poor. If you look today you can see the results of Deb’s efforts, now under the leadership of Eric Shepherd. The Mozilla Developer Center contains documentation for multiple aspects of the Mozilla project, from technologies to projects to products. Deb most recently turned her attention to product management, working on Firefox product planning.

Deb also has a significant interest in Mozilla organization and governance. It was Deb who took my initial draft of a document about the Mozilla vision, teased apart the separate threads, and created the structure for the parts that eventually became the Mozilla Manifesto. Many contributed to the Manifesto, but Deb’s early, giant contribution made a huge difference in getting this done.

Robert Kaiser: Robert has also been part of the Mozilla project for many years. He started as a localizer of the Mozilla Application Suite. Today he is the one of the leaders of the SeaMonkey project. The SeaMonkey community group took over ongoing development of the integrated mail/news client known as the Mozilla Application Suite when it was retired as an official project. SeaMonkey is a vibrant, successful community project with ongoing development work and project releases. Robert interacts regularly with other members of the Mozilla project across a range of topics.

Stuart Parmenter: Stuart came to the Mozilla project as a high-school volunteer. He joined Netscape in 1999 and has been working in the Mozilla world almost constantly since then. Not long after the Mozilla Foundation was formed Stuart joined Oracle to work on the Mozilla calendar team there. He moved to Mozilla a year or so later, returning to his original interest in graphics.

Stuart also has an interest in Mozilla project dynamics. Stuart lead the recent effort to review and restructure our code modules, as well as started the process of thinking about non-code modules. He’s been active in thinking about the role of super-reviewers and other governance mechanisms.

Bob Lisbonne: Bob is a long-time friend of the Mozilla project. Bob was involved in the launch and early days of the Mozilla project at Netscape, and has been involved in the browser space since the early Netscape versions. Bob has consistently provided reasoned and thoughtful advice to the Mozilla project, and joined the Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors in late 2006. Bob is currently a general partner with the venture capital firm Matrix Partners. His involvement with Mozilla is a personal effort, not to be associated with or attributed to Matrix Partners.

Mitchell Baker: I joined the Mozilla project part time in 1998 and full time in 1999. I’ve been the general manager of the project (known as the Chief Lizard Wrangler) since 1999 and have been involved in a broad range of Mozilla activities. Together with Brendan Eich I lead the effort to form the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation, and to articulate the Mozilla vision through the Mozilla Manifesto.

Welcome David Boswell

June 18th, 2007

David Boswell is joining the Mozilla Foundation this week. The details are in Frank’s post. I want to echo (amplify, really) the welcome. David Boswell has been involved with the Mozilla project for many years. When his experience with convinced him that more understanding of non-profit and organizations in general was necessary, he went back to school to learn. I remember writing a recommendation for David when he applied to the Colombia School of International and Public Affairs. At the time I thought, how cool is this?? Graduate study in a field other than computer science and still intimately related to Mozilla, open source and the type things Mozilla is trying to do.

Enough time has passed that David has finished his program. Even better, he’s back with Mozilla full-time. This strikes me as an important milestone for several reasons. To start with the obvious, it will be great to have David focused on Mozilla. We are working on building the Mozilla Foundation’s capabilities, and David is a part of this effort. (The Executive Director search is another part.) David has always been remarkably low key and effective. For a while I couldn’t understand how he could get things done in such a quiet, unassuming way. But he does, and it’s great. I’ll be talking with both David and Frank quite a bit this week to figure out some starting points for David. I’ve got a lot of ideas, the key is to be realistic!

Less obvious, but I think equally important, is the cross-fertilization of open source ideas and organizational activities beyond coding. David now has a rich background in open source activities, a world-class education to bring to bear, and an opportunity to combine those two to help move the Mozilla mission forward. And David is not alone. In just the last week or two, another long term Mozilla contributor has been accepted into the Business School at the University of California at Berkeley. He’ll attend the business school while continuing to work full time on open source activities. He too will have the chance to combine open source DNA with a world-class education and bring the resulting connections back to the open source world.

It’s exciting to see long term contributors bring open source expertise into the graduate educational system, and then to see them bring their education back to the open source world.

Please join me in welcoming David.

Ever More Global

April 26th, 2007

The Internet is increasingly global, and so is the Mozilla project. This is true of the user base, where we expect the number of people using English versions of Firefox to fall below 50% shortly. It is true of our development community, with increasing numbers of developers living and working on Mozilla from their home locales. It is true of our infrastructure, with the Mozilla add-ons site recently re-implemented to provide support for people creating add-ons in multiple languages. It is true in the increased coordination and cross-pollination between Mozilla Europe and Mozilla Japan and Mozilla contributors in the US.

In 2007 we plan to invest time and resources in making Mozilla an even more global project.

One particular area of focus is China. Mozilla has had an organizational presence in China since March of 2005, focused on building a bit of community around our technology. This year we plan to expand our understanding of China and activities in China. In particular, we hope to:

  • Listen and learn. There’s a lot happening in China today, there’s at least a small Mozilla community and user base, a blogger community and a range of other Internet-based activities.
  • Develop a dialog with the Mozilla community, together find ways to make Mozilla known to more people and expand that community.
  • Articulate how Firefox can help improve the Internet experience in China as it has elsewhere in the world and then act to deliver Firefox to consumers.
  • Offer our expertise – in open source, Internet software, community-building, etc., to Mozilla contributors in China.
  • Increase Chinese participation in the Mozilla project.
  • Increase the Mozilla project’s understanding of online life in China.

Doing this well requires someone focused on these goals. It requires someone who resonates with the Mozilla vision for online life and also has a good feel for China.

We are extremely fortunate to have found such a person in Li Gong. Li has a distinguished background: he graduated from Tsinghua University, China’s pre-eminent technical university, and earned a doctorate from Cambridge. He’s worked at the Stanford Research Institute, was Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect of Java Security while at Sun Microsystems, was the general manager of Sun’s software organization in China and most recently was GM of Microsoft’s MSN organization in China.

The most salient point to me is that Li has been thinking about Mozilla, and about Mozilla in China since early in the Mozilla Foundation’s history. Li and I talked out a Mozilla China effort starting in 2004, and Li was the fundamental force in the creation of our current Mozilla organization in China. When we planned for Mozilla China in 2004 the Mozilla Foundation was small and young and extremely resource-constrained. Li introduced us to the Chinese Academy of Sciences and helped us form an organization compatible with the Foundation. Now that the Foundation is larger, stronger and more experienced, Li is the perfect person to help Mozilla expand the Mozilla project in China.

Just about a week ago, Li joined Mozilla full-time to lead our efforts in China. You’ll start to see information about what we’re learning, thinking and doing, as well as how to keep up to date and participate shortly.

Please welcome Li and help him find his way more deeply into the Mozilla project!

Demographic Moment #2 — Blizzard Comes to Visit

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.)

Looking for a General Counsel

February 6th, 2007

The Mozilla Corporation is looking for a General Counsel to join its executive staff. The Mozilla Corporation is focused on creating great software and maintaining choice and innovation in key Internet activities, such as the highly acclaimed Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird applications. The Mozilla Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting choice and innovation on the Internet.

The Mozilla Corporation

The Mozilla Corporation is at the heart of one of the largest open-source software development projects in existence. It includes a userbase of 70,000,000 people, paid and volunteer contributors numbering in the thousands, a range of spin-off projects, and a set of companies using Mozilla technology to build products. The Mozilla Corporation is also at the heart of the burgeoning innovation in web-based activities.

Mozilla Corporation employees work within a unique structure that combines open source DNA and development methodologies with extensive commercial involvement. Successful Mozilla Corporation employees are quick learners, excited by change, unbothered by ambiguity, motivated by personal excellence, happy when doing many things and highly dedicated to the success of the project.

The General Counsel

The General Counsel will provide legal, business and strategic advice to the CEO, management team, and Board of Directors regarding legal aspects of the company’s objectives. The General Counsel must have an exceptional understanding of software and Internet business transactions, intellectual property issues, and the trade-offs between legal and business risks, as well as a good grasp of corporate governance and other operational issues (HR, etc). He or she will be expected to:

  • Identify, articulate, execute and publicly explain legal initiatives to the management team, Board of Directors, employees, participants in the Mozilla project and the public;
  • Use expertise to create new and innovative solutions;
  • Lead industry-wide discussions and initiatives relevant to the Mozillla Corporation;
  • Work well with the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit parent of the Mozilla Corporation; and
  • Help shape business relationships between the Mozilla Corporation and commercial entities.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Significant leadership experience with management teams across a range of issues; preferably as a General Counsel
  • “Knock ’em dead” understanding of the software and online business and legal worlds
  • Proven ability to identify, design and implement creative solutions
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal and team skills
  • An aggressive creative streak, coupled with extreme flexibility
  • Strong affinity for open, transparent, distributed work environments and for the goals of the Mozilla project
  • A driving interest in the overall health of the Internet and related public policy issues
  • Familiarity with and high interest in open source software

If you think you are this person, please contact Dan Portillo at

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