Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Aug 2020

We're all in the same lifeboat

The hashtag #MozillaLifeboat is highlighting the ~250 people laid off by Mozilla.

Here’s Mitchell Baker’s official announcement.

Daring Fireball has further links and commentary, including that the layoff number is “about on-third of its workforce”:

Firefox was very popular, and Google paid Mozilla a small fortune to make Google search the default in Firefox because it was so popular. But then came Chrome. Why should Google fund Mozilla when Chrome is about 10 times more popular than Firefox, other than out of the goodness of their heart?

It is a very good thing for the world and the web that a truly independent browser exists from a privacy-minded company, but there’s not much of a business model for it unless it’s popular enough to get the dominant search engine to pay for placement.

The Open Web, open source, Web3, global Internet commons infrastructure. Security. Privacy. Data ownership. We’ve got a lot on our plate that is looking pretty concerning.

I pretty much felt the same in the early 2000s, facing down FUD from Microsoft vs. open source. And we … won? Sort of? Except now it’s time to reboot again, because the ad supported web and big tech owned open source is an awkward place to have ended up.

I don’t know Chris Riley who just got laid off and tweeted this, but I’ll bold the key part here:

It’s been a heck of a ride at @mozilla for the past 7 years. But this is where I get off the train too. I’m sad; I’m going to miss the people, a lot. For me, my calling to make the internet better will continue. I just need to find the right next venture for it. #MozillaLifeboat – @MChrisRiley

We’re all in the same lifeboat. Grab an oar and get involved.