Often, as T.S. Eliot wrote, words are inadequate. I’ve recently decided that Firefox 4 will be my last release working for Mozilla. Like Eliot’s lover, let me struggle to find the words explaining why.
Almost six years ago, when I left IBM Canada for Mozilla, my manager assured me I’d be back at Big Blue in a couple of years. “It’s just a web browser,” he said, “how much work can there be?”
A lot, it turns out. I knew very little about the technology used to drive the Web, about open source communities, about how to ship software, or how to not cause the trees to go orange by revving an entity name when changing a string.
I have had the great privilege to work with this community of employees, contributors, volunteers and enthusiasts in order to ship six “upgrades to the Web” from Firefox 1.5 through to the soon to be released Firefox 4. I am indebted to so many people at Mozilla for what they have had the generousity to teach me, for giving me the trust and opportunity to learn, and for some incredible memories, friendships and experiences.
There comes a time, however, when one needs to “just keep movin’ on.” I’ve been getting antsy for the past few months, as some people may have noticed, and have decided that it’s time to challenge myself by jumping into an industry about which I know next to nothing. Some things will be familiar, of course (I’ll be managing product strategy for a small team of incredibly smart people, developing advanced, disruptive technology in a stagnant market with a dominant market leader) but almost everything else will be different, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn and grow. I expect that you’ll see me trying to see how I can apply some of the tools I’ve developed here to that industry, too.
It’s not a choice I made lightly, I can assure you. I’m incredibly eager to see how Mozilla continues to evolve, shifting its strategy to the new world in which the Web is not just alive and thriving, but evolving and transforming daily. Changing to delivering those Web upgrades by shipping smaller pieces more quickly, providing a new stable of Firefox-ish services – it’s clear that Mozilla’s future is filled with exciting new challenges and opportunities. Add to that the dear friendships I have with so many people in this community, and the simply incredible global work environment we’ve created together … you may assume that the decision took time, consideration, and involved more than a few tears.
It would be the most absurd hubris for me to believe for one second that Mozilla couldn’t face those challenges and opportunities without me. My role here has mostly been that of a lens, focusing the efforts of others in order to burn away obstacles. I am constantly in awe of the energy, passion and quality of skill held by everyone involved in this project.
Now, I’m not leaving in the next couple of days or anything. I am in it to win it on Firefox 4, and plan on staying until that milestone is complete, as well as helping with a smooth transition to ensure that Firefox 5 is a success from the get-go. Even after I stop working for the Mozilla Corporation on a daily basis, don’t think you’re rid of me. I expect to continue to contribute as a life-long member of our passionate, engaged, and supportive community of people who love the crap out of the Web.
OK. Enough of that. Let’s get back to work and ship this thing.