Mozilla

Posts Tagged with “Project”

February 23 — The Mozilla Organization

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 22, 1998 — the Beginning of Mozilla

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 info@netscape.com or by calling 650/937-2555 (corporate customers) or 650/937-3777 (individuals).

Hybrid Organizations

January 14th, 2008

Mozilla is an unusual organization, perhaps even unique. But we are part of a new type of organization — organizations that are mission — driven but use market mechanisms to achieve their goals. By “mission driven” I mean an organization that exists to provide social and civic value. In Mozilla’s case we have a public benefit mission — building an Internet that is open and participatory, where people have meaningful choices about their Internet experience. By “market mechanism” I mean that we use tools that non-profit organizations traditionally haven’t. We use financial tools — we sustain ourselves by generating revenue from our activities, rather than relying completely on grants and donations. We also use the “market” to drive change. In the Internet industry today we are promoting open source, innovation and participation by building products people want to use. Because so many people use our products, we are able to influence technical and policy decisions.

Both John and I have been using the phrase “hybrid organization” to describe this group of organizations. It’s a useful word, but not necessarily precise. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

One important point is that Mozilla is not alone in being a hybrid organization. We are very rare in the technology space. And even rarer in having our size and scope in the technology world. But we are part of a large world of organizations that are combining a social purpose with new tools for financial sustainability. That means some smart people have already been thinking about how to describe these new organizations and we can learn from them.

So, what does a “hybrid organization” mean? There seems to be some academic history of using “hybrid” to mean different types of organizations working together. That’s not what we mean. Wikipedia has a definition of “hybrid organization” that is closer, describing them as operating

in both the public sector and the private sector, simultaneously fulfilling public duties and developing commercial market activities. As a result the hybrid organization becomes a mixture of both a part of government and a commercial enterprise.

The first sentence fits the world I’m trying to describe. But the reference to a hybrid organization being partly “government” is not what I think of with Mozilla. With a little poking around on the Web I found not only a nice description of hybrid organizations but also a very well thought out framework for distinguishing between different gradations of hybrid organizations. (Have I said recently how much I love the Web?).

Here I’m going to call out a few points. This is partly because I’m finding the framework useful for thinking about the broad range of organizational structures people are trying. And it’s partly because the materials help set Mozilla within a larger set of organizations working to create social value in new ways. The author describes a spectrum of hybrid organizations, ranging from “corporations practicing social responsibility” to non-profits that generate income. One type of hybrid with this spectrum is the “Social Enterprise” which is

“any business venture created for a social purpose — mitigating/reducing a social problem or a market failure — and to generate social value while operating with the financial discipline, innovation and determination of a private sector business.” Source

This definitely describes the Mozilla Corporation. (I’m leaving aside for the moment whether one applies this designation to the Mozilla Foundation itself; or treats the Mozilla Foundation as more of a pure non-profit parent of a Social Enterprise.

The world of Social Enterprises is further divided into social enterprises where the “social programs and business activities are one and the same” (the “embedded social enterprise”) and where they are related but not necessarily the same (the “related social enterprise”). In our case, our social programs — creating, distributing and helping people enjoy open source software products — and our business activities are the same.

This slide captures all of this in one place. It describes Mozilla extremely well. We are a mission-driven organization, a portion of which (Mozilla Corporation and soon MailCo) perform some traditionally commercial activities as an integral part of accomplishing the mission. (I would like to copy the entire slide, but haven’t yet contacted the author to see how much I can reproduce here.)

“Embedded mission-centric social enterprise.” That’s a lot of words and I’ll probably keep using “hybrid” in most settings. But each of these words has a specific meaning, often capturing a concept I’ve been trying to organize somehow. Each helps place Mozilla among other organizations. How are we like /unlike microfinance? How are we like / unlike kiva.org? How are we like / unlike the Fair Trade organizations? And, it helps distinguish us from the makers of other browsers and products, *whether or not those products are built using open source software.* The open source nature of Firefox and Thunderbird is fundamental; other products in the market may match those (though none do today). The public-benefit, mission-driven nature of Mozilla is also fundamental, and this regard we are very close to unique.

Mitch Kapor and Mozilla

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.

Project-Wide Activities

April 16th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I informally asked Mozilla Corporation employees what types of work they do that are “project-wide” or not related to Firefox. Here’s a summary of the results.

  • IT Support and Build
    • Hosting of tinderboxes for all Mozilla projects, including Thunderbird, XUL, etc. This includes both application and server support.
    • Support, hosting and maintenance of basic infrastructure — IRC, Bugzilla, CVS, etc. for all Mozilla projects.
    • Provision of ftp services for many of the other projects — often a large amount of traffic that would be cost prohibitive to any of the smaller projects.
    • Support of the community giving network, which hosts infrastructure (Bugzilla, localization) for a range of projects, including Seamonkey, Camino, etc. Build, development and production machines as well as network capabilities are hosted, in both the San Jose and Amsterdam locations. For example, in Q1 2007 the build team spent a good deal of time to get community build Macs set up for each of the Seamonkey, Camino, and Sunbird/Lightning teams.
  • Thunderbird: build, release, QA, marketing, PR and a range of other activities.
  • Web Services: addons.mozilla.org supports extensions for Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey, and Sunbird.
  • Talkback support for Thunderbird, Sunbird, Camino and Seamonkey. This includes the creation of reports for new releases as well as server and symbols management work.
  • The Community Giving program has provided support to the calendar and Bugzilla projects as well as the Oregon State Open Source Lab.
  • The Mozilla Developer Center includes content and documentation for a range of technologies; including XUL platform documentation to help XUL developers.
  • General module owner activities relating to code review and patch management.
  • Mozilla Store operational support.

I doubt this is a conclusive list. Even so, it gives an idea of the types of activities beyond Firefox that happen on a daily basis.

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