02
Nov 10

Goodbye, Mozilla

Almost two weeks ago, I had an emotional last day at Mozilla, the best place I’ve ever had the honor of calling “employer.”  The 22 months I’ve spent at Mozilla have been the most rewarding and challenging of my career.  I joined at a time of transition and had the great honor of working with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, on a mission that has fundamentally changed the internet for everyone, regardless of the browser they happen to use.  Mozilla has a reach and influence that is the envy of many organizations in tech, and they will continue to grow and advance the state of the art in some obvious and surprising ways.

I’ve always told people that Mozilla was the last job I would ever have, and there was only one thing that would get me to leave- the opportunity to start something new that has the potential to change the world.  Of course, like many asterisks and related clauses, this one was fated to happen to me, and when Joshua Schachter asked me to start a company with him, I said no.  I couldn’t leave Mozilla, and I felt that my participation was vital to the company and the very future of the internet.

It took a while for me to realize that there would never be the perfect time for a person to leave an organization where they feel like they’re making a difference.  It took an even longer while to crank my ego down to the point where I realized that no one is irreplaceable, and in fact, learning how to delegate and give others the opportunity to grow is also an honorable way to make an exit.  Upon some reflection, I came to realize, perhaps self-servingly, that being indispensable is not always the reflection of a person’s true value- because it means that responsibility, vision, and leadership are not being shared in any meaningful way.  Fligtar, Myk, and Jorge all know their own jobs better than I do and are more than capable of writing the future of add-ons for Mozilla.

So, we know how this story ends.  I did an Ione Skye to Joshua’s John Cusack, and now I’m the VP of Product at a joint called Tasty Labs, with Joshua and Paul Rademacher, who invented Web 2.0 and will be inventing the next version of the web with us, which we plan on calling “Web 6.” Right now, my days are unpredictable and exciting, and I’ll try my best to talk more to you, all twelve of you, about my startup adventure.  TTFN!


16
Jul 10

London Add-ons Workshop

Firefox has a ton of users, and a growing proportion of them are in Europe.  Since we have so many excited add-ons developers there, we held the Mozilla Add-ons Workshop in London this year.  It was, all in all, a fantastic time.  I gave a talk about Firefox Add-ons, and how our commitment to new ideas and browser customization allows us to provide a deeply personal experience for the myriad needs of hundreds of millions of internet users worldwide.  Five browsers make up over 98% of worldwide usage, and it seems like a foregone conclusion that there are more than 5 different kinds of users out there.

Continue reading →


13
Apr 10

Rocking your Firefox

AMO is a great site for finding and sharing your favorite Firefox add-ons, but as we like to say, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.  While we made meaningful improvements for the millions of loyal add-ons fanatics out there, it was clear that the tens of thousands of available add-ons were overwhelming for many users new to add-ons.  Enter Rock Your Firefox- a blog we launched last month that tells folks about the great add-ons out there.

Some of you may know Rock Your Firefox as a Facebook application, originaly created by Justin Scott to help add-ons users share their add-ons on Facebook.  While the original Rock Your Firefox has been retired with fond memories, we decided to resurrect and reinvigorate the brand for the new Rock Your Firefox- where we shine the spotlight on a single add-on while telling a compelling story about how an add-on can make your life better.  We’ve made an effort to try and make these stories fun as well; and we’re actively looking for new guest bloggers to help us tell the story of great add-ons.

If you’re reading this, chance are you’re a big add-ons fan, and some of you have wondered about the reason for a new site.  Rest assured that AMO will continue to evolve in useful and delightful ways, and Rock Your Firefox is intended to complement AMO by offering a low impact and easy way to discover add-ons, whether you’re a new user or a seasoned veteran.  Also- since it’s a catchy URL- we hope that you’ll tell interested strangers to check it out, we’ll do the rest with our witty prose and slickly produced videos. 🙂

Editor’s note: Patricia Clausnitzer has translated this post into Belorussian!


28
Jan 10

Thoughts on Vietnam, technology, and THE FUTURE

My parents took me to Vietnam for the very first time last December, and I’ve been thinking a lot about technology, the world, and the incredible times that we live in.  When my parents left South Vietnam 34 years ago, they were not only leaving a country that was dissolving around them, but also lives of comfort and prestige to start all over again as a factory worker and short-order cook at a truck stop.  As a child growing up in Ohio, I had this impression that Vietnam was a faraway and fuzzy land, one that, truthfully, was no more real to me than Middle Earth.

From the moment I arrived, this impression evaporated, replaced by the reality of what I experienced.  I saw a place where 65% of the population was under 30, where education is perceived as the path to upward mobility, and a society where the past 30 years of economic development has been compressed into 10 years.  Vietnam is a place of unsurprisingly delicious foods and amazing vistas, but it’s also a place where many people live without plumbing and sanitation, and the average person earns less than $100 a month.  Vietnam is definitely a developing country- one with a vast gulf between the Bentley-driving elite and the average person, and it’s also a country that’s getting its first music television channel and 3G broadband at the same time.

This was a significant trip for me- I saw the birthplace of my parents, heard stories of their escape in 1975, and met family members I didn’t know I had.  We slept on a boat in Ha Long Bay, visited the thousand-year-old capital of Hanoi, heard government music every morning at 5am for daily calisthenics, toured the former Independence Palace in Saigon, saw the floating markets of Can Tho, and saw the imperial villa in the mountain city of Da Lat.  While my parents were patient and generous tour guides, it was clear that today’s Vietnam was almost as new to them as it was to me and my wife.  Even the language had evolved after 35 years of reunification and modernization.

As a Mozilla employee, I work on making the internet better for everyone.  As the Director of Add-ons, I want to empower people to change not only the world but their own lives with open and free technologies.  I get constant reminders of how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to focus my professional energies on such a noble pursuit, but nowhere has this been more poignant than Vietnam.  Over there, I saw idealistic young people who were empowered and determined to not only change their own destinies, but also the destiny of their entire country.  The Internet remains a new and wondrous thing there, and throngs of aspirational young Vietnamese spend their entire savings on computers and internet access.  Free distance learning programs empower the motivated with the technology skills to become programmers and make a transformational change to the quality of their lives.

This is amazing.  When someone has the potential to increase their income tenfold from free lessons on the internet, it underscores how vital it is that the basic technologies for creating and browsing content on the Internet remain free and open.  First-world software economics here are patently ludicrous- the iPhone developer program costs the equivalent of an entire month’s salary.  The fundamental web technologies that drive innovation on the web and browser should continue to be free without a tax on innovation, and many of these free technologies form the building blocks of commercial services and software.  There is no irony in earning a living with Open Source.

On a more personal note, my father spent the first 61 years of his life without the ability to type in Vietnamese- until a Firefox extension made it trivially easy for him to do so.  A tiny piece of software written by a Vietnamese-American college student gave him the gift of written communication in his native language.  Add-ons are often written by people who are trying to meet their own needs.  The fact that our needs are so similar is a reminder that we are more alike than we are different.


12
Nov 09

Contributions in the press

Saw this blog post on CNET about Contributions in AMO, and it was great to see the positive response from the Add-ons developer community.  Nate Weiner, the author of Read It Later, mentioned that we were going about the problem ‘backwards’, an assertion I wholeheartedly agree with acheter cialis en ligne.  We’re talking to the Firefox team about redesigning the Extensions Manager in a future version, and Contributions are definitely something we want to support.

Don’t worry, Nate- we won’t be annoying with it.  🙂


26
Aug 09

don’t be so jaded

For those of us in the business of making technology for the People of the Internet, it’s easy to get jaded by the mainstreaming of technology which we once found new and exciting.  Americans in particular seem to be a little guilty of this, particularly if they live near a coast.  While Twitter, Facebook and Firefox move further into the homes of our friends and parents, it’s good to see this as an opportunity and not a sign that the end has come.

I’ve had the good fortune of meeting fellow nerds from all over the world, and I’ve noticed the ones who don’t come from Silicon Valley remain enchanted by technology and its promise to make the world better.  They’re the ones hacking away on Twitter and Firefox and really pushing the envelope on the future for those products.  Many of  top Firefox add-on developers come from Europe and Asia, and Brazil’s wholesale adoption of open source and social software is a phenomenon to behold.  Korea’s obsession with Starcraft shows no signs of waning eleven years after that game’s release.

While our short attention spans compel us to keep creating and trying new things, does our eagerness to invent prevent us from honing our craft?  Does great software evolve through people who lose their otaku sense of wonder?  Seesmic relocated to San Francisco in an attempt to secure respect in the startup world, but I wonder if Silicon Valley, with its populace of short-attention-span inhabitants, will continue to be the epicenter of technology moving forward.

I’m not terribly worried about America- I still see that twinkle in the eyes of my friends and colleagues from other parts of the country, but I do think that we should get over ourselves and try to remember that technology that makes the lives of people better is something that we want in the hands of as many folks as possible.


16
Jul 09

Meet us at the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend in San Francisco

A few months ago, I blogged about how add-ons were like a Renegade Craft Fair, so we decided it might be a good idea to come to one to spread the word about Mozilla.  Thanks to the hard work of Mary, Sarah, and Sean we’re going to have a presence at the San Francisco RCF in Fort Mason this weekend to spread the word about Firefox, Add-ons, and Personas.

If you’re around and want to say hi and grab some swag, come to the Renegade Craft Fair– it’s totally free and totally AWESOME.


26
Jun 09

Obrigado Brasil

Mozilla Community at FISL

My 3.5 day whirlwind tour of Brazil is now over, and I found it incredibly enlightening and wonderful in so many ways.  The South American Mozilla community is amazing- their energy and dedication is an enormous testament to the foothold that FOSS has in that region of the world.  People were genuinely excited to learn more about Mozilla and I was honored that so many came to my talk- I hope that those who attended found it useful.  Brazil is a very close #5 in overall traffic and I can easily see them getting to #3 by the end of the year.  I also mentioned Extend Firefox as a way for community members to submit great add-ons and win prizes and recognition for their hard work.

Mozilla is a truly global phenomenon- something I knew before but my visit to Brazil makes it something I feel much more.  I’m proud of how our team has created a site that is localized in dozens of languages and I want to do more to make sure that add-ons are presented in a way that’s specifically engaging to each region of the world.  If you have any ideas- please let me know.

Enormous thanks goes to Alix Franquet for making sure this was no meaningless junket- every second of our time was spent engaging with the community- from students to entrepreneurs to companies interested in Mozilla.  A big thanks as well to Bruno Magrani- without whom we would certainly be lost, eating the wrong things, and getting in trouble.  Finally, thanks to everyone who helped us at the booth- in no particular order those would be Felipe, Augusto, Clauber, Andrea, Bruna, the other Felipe, Guillermo, Marcio, Antonio, Mario and anyone else I may have missed.


23
Jun 09

See you at FISL in Porto Alegre

If you’re going to be at FISL in Porto Alegre, Brazil- I’ll be presenting tomorrow at 11 am. This has been a crazy and amazing year for add-ons and I’m working on a presentation so I can put on a nice little show for everyone.  Hope to see you there.


10
Jun 09

The new AMO is live!

add-ons-for-firefox

Lots of late night coding, testing, pondering and pushing has resulted in the birth of a healthy baby-blue AMO!  Lots of people worked hard on this release and I’m incredibly proud of what we launched.

Beauty, in this case, is much more than skin deep as we’ve also released Collections, a new feature that allows our users to share their favorite add-ons with the entire Mozilla community- because you don’t have to be a developer to be a valuable part of our ecosystem.  Next up- add-on contributions and tagging.  This train isn’t stopping anywhere…

A big thanks to the AMO team (you know who you are) and the design team at Clearleft for their hard work!