Posts Tagged with “WEF”

India Economic Summit

December 6th, 2007

Last year Mozilla was named a “Tech Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum. The Forum’s best-known event is its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, but it also conducts a series of gatherings and programs during the year. Last week I attended the WEF’s “India Economic Summit” in Dehli. It was a combination of large events, small panels and discussions, invitation only meetings based on topics and interactive sessions known as the “Workspace.” I attended a couple of special sessions related to technology. One was the WEF’s program on the “digital ecosystem” through which the WEF tries to outline possible views of the future economic landscape, from the walled garden to a world in which individual people have maximum control over their own digital lives. This last possible is called the “U-topia” and is very similar to the worldview Mozilla strikes to create. I found the analysis quite sophisticated, I was very glad to see this.

I also went to a Workspace event on innovation. I ended up in a subgroup on “Inclusive Innovation.” The discussion leader at our table was Anil Gupta, who seeks out interesting innovations in rural India. This was a fascinating session. Once again much of the thinking was very close to what we are trying to do at Mozilla. The discussion ended up talking about frameworks for helping people innovate, make their work known and find ways for other interested people to improve the developments and distribute them more broadly. It was fascinating to find a group of prominent and successful business people find their way to many of the principles that are important to us at Mozilla.

Very few people recognized “Mozilla.” Everyone recognized “Firefox.” And I mean everyone. The attendees include a set of prominent India business people — usually the CEOs and one or two other people from their companies, government ministers, some social entrepreneurs, and a few who are hard to type. Well, perhaps the Ministers don’t recognize Firefox, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to them 🙂 I attend these events to help people put a face to Mozilla, to help them realize that we are not wild anarchists, to spread the message that we are a non-profit, public benefit organization pursuing the mission of a more open Internet.

Sometimes these events can be awkward because Mozilla is a hybrid organization. We produce software that is as polished — and often better — than commercial products but we’re not a commercial software vendor. We generate revenue — it’s a lot by open source standards, but *irrelevant* to most of the businesses whose CEOs attend these events. Our revenue is minuscule for the market space we represent, and in the past people will have dismissed me when they realize how “small” we are compared to the world. But that happens much less now. And to be fair, I’ve probably gotten better at presenting Mozilla in these settings.

Schwab Social Entrepreneurs

February 5th, 2007

I spent last week in Switzerland attending two related events. The first was the annual gathering of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in Zurich, and the second was the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The WEF was founded by Claus Schwab in the 1970’s with the goal of improving the state of the world. In 1998 Claus created the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Social Entrepreneurs are people who use entrepreneurial techniques to achieve social or humanitarian ends. (Generally this means developing ways to help people help themselves rather than giving to charities which disperse funds or resources, but which don’t necessarily help the recipients to help themselves). Sometimes social entrepreneurship carries the idea of using market forces to cause changes as well. The Schwab Foundation has a more complete definition here, and a list of current Social Entrepreneurs can be found here.

The days I spent with these folks were fascinating; they are extremely creative and focused people. Nicholas Kristoff wrote a column in Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Do-Gooders With Spreadsheets” (registration required on to view). They understood intuitively the Mozilla Foundation’s role of keeping the Internet an open platform, where many people can plug in at different levels in a decentralized fashion. They understood that we generate revenue to support this goal, but that the mission is paramount.

A number of the Schwab Social Entrepreneurs have created organizations that generate revenue to support their mission. This is the first group I have found where a number of people have created financially self-sustaining mission-driven organizations. The Mozilla Foundation has been working on many of the same questions. It was invigorating to spend time with other people who are working through similar issues.

My husband, who attended both events (which are rare in inviting spouses) noted that the Social Entrepreneurs were among the most vibrant, affirming people he met at either event. I’ve avoided “Social Entrepreneurs” in the past because somehow the term created a barrier. But having met a few of them now, I find myself very drawn to this group.

Davos Update

January 31st, 2007

Last week I attended the annual meeting of The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum is “. . . an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” Its annual meeting is by invitation only. This year Mozilla was selected as a Technology Pioneer for our innovative and effective work, and I attended as the Mozilla representative.

The annual meeting gets a lot of press, so I’ll comment only on the parts related to Mozilla.

First, the awareness of Firefox was phenomenal. I’d say 90% of the people to whom I introduced myself knew of Firefox instantly. Outside of deeply technical circles I’ve never been anywhere with this level of recognition and acceptance before. This made it much easier to describe our larger mission of keeping the Internet an open platform.

The other major thing I took from this gathering is that people think of a healthy Internet as a given. Here, “healthy” means available, ubiquitous, and providing a myriad of opportunities for people to plug in and participate in unstructured, decentralized ways. It’s a great vision.

This vision of the Internet is exciting, and optimistic. But it is not a given. It’s not something we can simply expect to happen. The Internet can be closed off in many ways, both by intentional and unintentional actions. It could become so unsafe that only the technically savvy can protect themselves from identity and information theft. The openness — open source software and open standards — that forms the basis of the Internet’s architecture could fade, leaving citizens in the dark about what is going on.

Creating a healthy, open Internet is the guiding mission of the Mozilla Foundation. Our first and most important tool today is Mozilla Firefox. Firefox makes the technical richness of the Internet available to the human beings who use it. In addition, Firefox embodies the principles of openness, transparency, community, and the primacy of the individual human end-user.

Firefox is a fundamental step, critical in its own right. Firefox has also given us an exceptional opportunity. This is the opportunity to be a voice promoting a healthy, open Internet, and to be heard. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the type of online life the world experiences for years to come. It’s a great challenge — who could hope for more?

Mozilla Selected by WEF as “Technology Pioneer”

December 4th, 2006

The World Economic Forum is a non-profit organization established in Switzerland 35 years ago to improve the state of the world. The WEF tries to affect the global agenda to promote the public interest. It tries to promote “Entrepreneurship in the Global Public Interest.” It has become a highly visible, active organization. Its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland attracts a wide set of members and special invitees.

The last few years the WEF has selected a set of companies as Technology Pioneers. To be a Technology Pioneer, “. . . a company must be involved in the development of life-changing technology innovation and have potential for long-term impact on business and society. In addition, it must demonstrate visionary leadership, show the signs of being a long-standing market leader – and its technology must be proven.”

The Mozilla Corporation has been chosen as a 2007 Technoogy Pioneer. This honor recognizes some of the core principles of the Mozilla project — the Internet is a life and society-changing technology; and how individual citizens and consumers interact with that technology is critical. It also recognizes that our technology and our techniques for developing it are both proven and highly innovative, and we are a market leader.

I hope everyone involved with the Mozilla project can appreciate the effects of our work and the voice it gives us for helping develop the Internet in support of the global public interest.

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