This is a time of change for the internet and for Mozilla. From combatting a lethal virus and battling systemic racism to protecting individual privacy — one thing is clear: an open and accessible internet is essential to the fight.
Mozilla exists so the internet can help the world collectively meet the range of challenges a moment like this presents. Firefox is a part of this. But we know we also need to go beyond the browser to give people new products and technologies that both excite them and represent their interests. Over the last while, it has been clear that Mozilla is not structured properly to create these new things — and to build the better internet we all deserve.
Today we announced a significant restructuring of Mozilla Corporation. This will strengthen our ability to build and invest in products and services that will give people alternatives to conventional Big Tech. Sadly, the changes also include a significant reduction in our workforce by approximately 250 people. These are individuals of exceptional professional and personal caliber who have made outstanding contributions to who we are today. To each of them, I extend my heartfelt thanks and deepest regrets that we have come to this point. This is a humbling recognition of the realities we face, and what is needed to overcome them.
As I shared in the internal message sent to our employees today, our pre-COVID plan for 2020 included a great deal of change already: building a better internet by creating new kinds of value in Firefox; investing in innovation and creating new products; and adjusting our finances to ensure stability over the long term. Economic conditions resulting from the global pandemic have significantly impacted our revenue. As a result, our pre-COVID plan was no longer workable. Though we’ve been talking openly with our employees about the need for change — including the likelihood of layoffs — since the spring, it was no easier today when these changes became real. I desperately wish there was some other way to set Mozilla up for long term success in building a better internet.
But to go further, we must be organized to be able to think about a different world. To imagine that technology will become embedded in our world even more than it is, and we want that technology to have different characteristics and values than we experience today.
So going forward we will be smaller. We’ll also be organizing ourselves very differently, acting more quickly and nimbly. We’ll experiment more. We’ll adjust more quickly. We’ll join with allies outside of our organization more often and more effectively. We’ll meet people where they are. We’ll become great at expressing and building our core values into products and programs that speak to today’s issues. We’ll join and build with all those who seek openness, decency, empowerment and common good in online life.
I believe this vision of change will make a difference — that it can allow us to become a Mozilla that excites people and shapes the agenda of the internet. I also realize this vision will feel abstract to many. With this in mind, we have mapped out five specific areas to focus on as we roll out this new structure over the coming months:
- New focus on product. Mozilla must be a world-class, modern, multi-product internet organization. That means diverse, representative, focused on people outside of our walls, solving problems, building new products, engaging with users and doing the magic of mixing tech with our values. To start, that means products that mitigate harms or address the kinds of the problems that people face today. Over the longer run, our goal is to build new experiences that people love and want, that have better values and better characteristics inside those products.
- New mindset. The internet has become the platform. We love the traits of it — the decentralization, its permissionless innovation, the open source underpinnings of it, and the standards part — we love it all. But to enable these changes, we must shift our collective mindset from a place of defending, protecting, sometimes even huddling up and trying to keep a piece of what we love to one that is proactive, curious, and engaged with people out in the world. We will become the modern organization we aim to be — combining product, technology and advocacy — when we are building new things, making changes within ourselves and seeing how the traits of the past can show up in new ways in the future.
- New focus on technology. Mozilla is a technical powerhouse of the internet activist movement. And we must stay that way. We must provide leadership, test out products, and draw businesses into areas that aren’t traditional web technology. The internet is the platform now with ubiquitous web technologies built into it, but vast new areas are developing (like Wasmtime and the Bytecode Alliance vision of nanoprocesses). Our vision and abilities should play in those areas too.
- New focus on community. Mozilla must continue to be part of something larger than ourselves, part of the group of people looking for a better internet. Our open source volunteers today — as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who donate to and participate in Mozilla Foundation’s advocacy work — are a precious and critical part of this. But we also need to go further and think about community in new ways. We must be increasingly open to joining others on their missions, to contribute to the better internet they’re building.
- New focus on economics. Recognizing that the old model where everything was free has consequences, means we must explore a range of different business opportunities and alternate value exchanges. How can we lead towards business models that honor and protect people while creating opportunities for our business to thrive? How can we, or others who want a better internet, or those who feel like a different balance should exist between social and public benefit and private profit offer an alternative? We need to identify those people and join them. We must learn and expand different ways to support ourselves and build a business that isn’t what we see today.
We’re fortunate that Firefox and Mozilla retain a high degree of trust in the world. Trust and a feeling of authenticity feel unusual in tech today. But there is a sense that people want more from us. They want to work with us, to build with us. The changes we are making today are hard. But with these changes we believe we’ll be ready to meet these people — and the challenges and opportunities facing the future of the internet — head on.