F**k it, I’m going back to Mozilla.*
2015 started off well for me. My wife and I had just welcomed our daughter Ada into the world, my team’s latest app was crushing it in both downloads and ratings, and I felt like I finally knew what I was doing. It was not an obvious time to make a big change in my life.
Of course, this is when Mozilla called and asked if I’d consider coming back. As a loyal Mozillian, I was open to the conversation but was also very happy doing what I was doing. Our apps were setting records in terms of scale and reception and I didn’t know how often this kind of luck would come my way. Still, after some fairly intense discussions back and forth, we had both concluded that there was an interesting opportunity at Mozilla.
Still, I was working for a team that I admired and our work was far from done. Walmart was a different place from Mozilla, but making technology useful to everyone was something the two places shared. They were nonetheless different in many ways, and I kept thinking about Mozilla. When I arrived in 2008, Firefox 3 had just launched to great fanfare, and I joined to help the Add-ons team because I was a huge believer in personalization of experience; after having helped launch the Firefox extension for a thing called del.icio.us. It was a crazy ride, and a place where I met and made many lifelong friends.
After joining Mozilla, I came to believe in many more things. I believed that the Internet was going to be the most significant human achievement in my lifetime. I believed that robust competition on a level playing field was a rising tide that would lift all boats, be they commercial or otherwise. And most of all, I believed that working at Mozilla was a natural place for someone like me to end up.
I got into Product Management because I was the kid that helped all his friends’ parents set up their computers. I did this because I believed that technology was beautiful and powerful, and I wanted everyone to benefit as I did from my countless hours of tinkering and reading, but without having to go through the pain of my trials and errors.
Being able to do this at scale- to make technology serve everyone in a way that truly empowers them- is at the core of what motivates me to do what I do, and I came to understand that there is no better place for me to do this than Mozilla. As I looked at my young child, the daughter of two technologists and auspiciously named after the first person to write a computer program, I realized that Mozilla is vital to ensuring that opportunity and innovation remain at the core of the Internet.
Mozilla is a grand experiment- the hypothesis to test is whether or not a non-profit, public benefit organization can build better products than the most well-run companies in the world. Products that are not only better for the health of the internet, but better in experience and capability. The positive result of this testing allows a small upstart to push the giants in the right direction, incentivizing innovation over feudalism as not just good user experiences but ultimately good for innovators as well. I believe that they must, that we must always be testing this, be pushing for these results, because there isn’t anyone else to do it. I’m proud to be returning to Mozilla, a place that feels like home, even after so many years away. As VP of Product Strategy, I’ll help run those tests and tell those stories.
* Obvious homage to this Gizmodo article: http://gizmodo.com/fuck-it-im-going-back-to-firefox-1685425815