TL; DR: I’m leaving Mozilla. I’m writing a book. I’m a coach. I still plan to change the world with Open Source and Free Software and the Web.
The paragraph above sums it up pretty well. In case you’re interested in a little more details, here they are:
I’m leaving Mozilla
I have decided that starting mid-February 2015, I won’t be an employee of Mozilla anymore, but I’ll keep being a Mozillian and I’ll continue working with Mozilla as an advisor.
I remember being summoned in the Netscape Europe General Manager’s office early January 1998 to discuss a surprising announcement about what would be called the “Mozilla project”, which would host the now opened source code of Netscape Communicator. I totally fell in love with this idea which I was familiar with since I had met Richard M. Stallman in the mid-80’s in Paris as I was an Emacs user. I started right away helping the Mozilla project with PR in Europe and giving talks locally. I vividly remember one of these talks at ENST engineering school in Paris. The crowd was super excited and I felt like a rock star
And the rest is history… Here are a few memorable moments:
I started managing Netscape Client developer relations in Europe from 2001 to 2003 where I helped launching the OpenWeb community project. In July 2003, AOL/Netscape/Time Warner decided to give up on the Mozilla Project and employees working on it where reassigned or let go. Soon after, Peterv and I get in touch with Mozilla community members (hi Pascal & Pike!) and we decide together to create Mozilla Europe, a non-profit to develop the European side of Mozilla.
In February 2004 at FOSDEM, in Brussels, we announce that the legal structure has been created and we launch the www.mozilla-europe.org Website (now retired), first localized Mozilla Website!
In November 2004, Firefox 1.0 is launched and is an instant hit. On the US side, Mozilla Foundation starts to see some revenue coming in thanks to T-shirt sales then the Google deal. It now can afford to financially support Mozilla Europe. In April 2005, after 21 months of unemployement, I finally receive a paycheck! Considering the state of my bank account and my stress level, it’s pretty good news!
By end 2011, it’s becoming obvious that growing Mozilla in Europe cannot be done through an independent legal structure. We decided to fold down Mozilla Europe’s legal structure and have its activities transferred to Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiaries. It’s a new chapter for the European board of Directors, but many projects that were initiated by Mozilla Europe are spreading throughout the world. for example MozCamps, Mozilla Reps and localization of products and Websites all started in Europe and are now global.
I’m writing a book
There is an issue that’s annoying me for several years: online privacy and mass surveillance. I started conversations within Mozilla around this at a time when the word “privacy” was not in the Mozilla Manifesto. I wrote blog posts on this topic. I have read thousands of articles, several books, compiled hundreds of links on my blog. I have invited the TOR Project for a work week at Mozilla in Paris. I have started a set of conferences around Internet Decentralisation to avoid surveillance. I was very happy to see Mozilla announce the Polaris project with TOR and I hope this is just the beginning for Mozilla.
But this is not enough. I think this is a very important issue that threatens democracy. I think that one of my talents is to explain complicated technical stuff to non-geeks. I have therefore decided to write a book on this topic, a book for a broad audience.
The issue for me is that it’s not compatible with a full time job at Mozilla. I had to make a choice and I have decided to focus on writing my book and leave Mozilla as an employee.
Open Source, Free Software and the Web
When in comes to on-line privacy and mass surveillance, people can have 3 different responses:
- Becoming Luddites and rejecting technology. I don’t think it makes sense as we’re in the middle of the digital revolution.
- Apathy and resignation. I think most people with end up choosing this path, thinking that loosing their on-line freedom and privacy is “inevitable” and maybe “not that problematic”. But I do know it’s avoidable and that yes, it’s really problematic. This is actually the theme of my whole book!
- Creating solutions that serve the users and which are controlled by them.
Of course, I’m going for the 3rd option. I am certain that the Web and Free & Open Source software can play a central role in solving the problem of vanishing on-line privacy and increasing mass surveillance. I will keep contributing to projects in this field, including Mozilla, but this time as a volunteer.
The Decentralized / Indie Web, combined with Open Source and Free Software, along with cryptography and innovative business models (other than targeted advertising as we know it) can crack the nut.
I’m a coach
In 17 years with Mozilla, I have grown a lot and learned a lot. One of the best things I’ve learned is coaching and personal development.
In March 2012, I was invited to participate to a training called LEAD (Leadership Exploration and Development). It was a revelation to me. I was then offered to become a trainer for a similar personal development program called TRIBE . TRIBE is offered to all Mozillians, staff of not. This was a fantastic experience for me that enabled to grow. At the same time, I have been trained on the Co-Active Coaching (CTI) method and I am now a coach working with several clients. It’s an amazing experience! I plan to keep coaching a handful of people for the foreseeable future.
As I write these lines, I’m filled with gratitude for all that Mozilla has given me. It gave a meaning to my professional life. It gave me the opportunity to have an impact on hundreds of millions of people. It helped me learn new things that have changed my life for the better. It made me meet with amazingly smart, hard-working and generous people. I won’t name names, but you know who you are, with special thoughts for Mozilla volunteers. You’re my heroes, and I certainly plan to keep being one of yours.
 All right, I still need to: Mitchell Baker, Debbie Cohen, John Lilly, Peterv, Jb Piacentino, Pascal Chevrel and thousands of others.