Technical Leadership at Mozilla

Today, I am starting my role as Mozilla’s new Chief Technology Officer. Mozilla is an unusual organization. We are not just a software company making a product. We are also a global community of people with a shared goal to build and further the Web, the world’s largest and fastest-growing technology ecosystem. My new responsibilities at Mozilla include identifying and enabling new technology ideas from across the project, leading technical decision making, and speaking for Mozilla’s vision of the Web.

I joined Mozilla almost six years ago to work with Brendan Eich and Mike Shaver on a just-in-time compiler for JavaScript based on my dissertation research (TraceMonkey). Originally, this was meant to be a three-month project to explore trace compilation in Firefox, but we quickly realized that we could rapidly bring this new technology to market. On August 23, 2008 Mozilla turned on the TraceMonkey compiler in Firefox, only days before Google launched its then-still-secret Chrome browser, and these two events spawned the JavaScript Performance Wars between Firefox, Chrome and Safari, massively advancing the state of the art in JavaScript performance. Today, JavaScript is one of the fastest dynamic languages in the world, even scaling to demanding use cases like immersive 3D gaming.

The work on TraceMonkey was an eye-opening experience for me. Through our products that are used by hundreds of millions of users, we can bring new technology to the Web at an unprecedented pace, changing the way people use and experience the Web.

Over the past almost six years I’ve enjoyed working for Mozilla as Director of Research and later as Vice President of Mobile and Research and co-founding many of Mozilla’s technology initiatives, including Broadway.js (a video decoder in JavaScript and WebGL), PDF.js (a PDF viewer built with the Web), Shumway (a Flash player built with the Web), the rebooted native Firefox for Android, and of course Firefox OS.

For me, the open Web is a unique ecosystem because no one controls or owns it. No single browser vendor, not even Mozilla, controls the Web. We merely contribute to it. Every browser vendor can prototype new technologies for the Web. Once Mozilla led the way with Firefox, market pressures and open standards quickly forced competitors to implement successful technology as well. The result has been an unprecedented pace of innovation that has already displaced competing proprietary technology ecosystems on the desktop.

We are on the cusp of the same open Web revolution happening in mobile as well, and Mozilla’s goal is to accelerate the advance of mobile by tirelessly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with the Web. Or, to use the language of Mozilla’s engineers and contributors:

“For Mozilla, anything that the Web can’t do, or anything that the Web is not faster and better at than native technologies, is a bug. We should file it in our Bugzilla system, so we can start writing a patch to fix it.”

One thought on “Technical Leadership at Mozilla

  1. Any plans for Firefox OS on the recently announced Qualcomm A53 based SoC’s:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7573/qualcomm-announces-snapdragon-410-based-on-64bit-arm-cortex-a53-and-adreno-306-gpu

    Could be a great value platform for education with a 8 to 9 inch tablet – especially when combined with Quacomms Utrasound stylus. (Tablets – 10 inch is too big – 7 inch too small).

    MS have woken up after their decade long detour. Giving away Windows ‘Modern’ on 8 inch and below devices. Leveraging open Web standards on Arm64 could be an attractive story for Mozilla to compete. Especially in education – which needs open platforms not closed ‘products’. The A64 ISA in particular looks a good fit for ES6/7 and the new web tech – Animations, Components etc.

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