Wait and Hope

After 15 years, today is my final working day at Mozilla.

When people leave Mozilla, they frequently exercise their privilege to send one final email to the entire company saying goodbye. I’ve elected not to do that and am instead posting my thoughts here. Call it hubris, but there aren’t many people left at Mozilla who can appreciate what 15 years means. Most of my colleagues have already moved on.

2020 has been hard. Layoffs at Mozilla, and the threat of more layoffs, made this a particularly rough year. As a manager, putting on a brave face for others has left me emotionally spent at the end of every week. This is on top of the malaise associated with a decade of declining market share (and associated relevance) for Firefox.

As I reach the end of my tenure at Mozilla, inevitably I look back to try to figure out what I could have done differently to make Mozilla more successful. Did I miss a window of opportunity somewhere to help Firefox succeed? Might this year have been avoided, or its impact softened?

In broad strokes, sure, I could have worked longer or harder, pushed to get projects completed faster or to a higher standard. More specifically, if we had accelerated our transition from tinderbox to buildbot, or from buildbot to Taskcluster, could we have kept better pace with competitors? Maybe we could have recognized the scaling needs sooner and avoided migrating our entire continuous integration infrastructure twice?

The safe answer is that, yes, there are many things I could have done differently, but hindsight is also 20/20.

When I started this reminiscence, I felt like maybe my impact had decreased over time. It was tempting to think that my influence peaked back in 2005 when it was just 25 of us hacking together on Firefox under the Can Bridge in Ellis St.

But that’s absolutely not true.

Mozilla, at its core, is about people. The manifesto is an invitation. This is a long game; the changes that Mozilla wants to affect in the world aren’t best measured in quarterly earnings reports.

As a manager at Mozilla, I’ve had the opportunty to hire dozens of people. I’ve helped interns develop into kick-ass engineers. I’ve touched the careers of countless people and hopefully instilled some fundamental values along the way. Many of those people are no longer with Mozilla. This is a good thing, both for them and for Mozilla.

The world needs more Mozilla. In an industry largely bereft of introspection and in many cases lacking a moral compass, the Mozilla diaspora has some serious work to do. At the end of the day, if all I’ve done is helped spread Mozilla values out into the wider world, I’m happy with that legacy.

Mozilla has gone through big changes this year. I don’t know if those changes are enough for it to be successful, but I am hopeful. As part of the old guard, I am happy to step aside at this juncture to create space and opportunity for the new guard in my stead.

I’m starting a new adventure as a Senior Development Manager at Unity in January. I’ll be taking my Mozilla values with me.

Source: Mozilla Release Engineering

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