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Thank u, next (steveklabnik.com)
535 points by steveklabnik 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments

I'm surprised and disappointed to learn that Mozilla didn't value Steve's work enough. The documentation, especially the book [1] which he authored, is the gold standard that every software project should aspire to. As someone who learned the language recently, it's possible that I might have abandoned it if the documentation and learning materials hadn't been so good.

I also thought his work in evangelizing Rust on HN, Reddit and a million other places was hugely important, and a big part of why there's a lot of positive buzz around the language. Steve, I do hope you'll find the time to continue at least a part of this work, because I think it's vital for the success of Rust.

[1] - https://doc.rust-lang.org/book/

Thanks! To be clear, the doc work was my job, but the evangelizing wasn't.

I plan on continuing both, as much as time allows.

I would miss the instant replies on most Rust topics from you. That and acemarke's similar quick response to any mention of Redux make the world seem like a more predictable place in these troubled times...

I want to thank you, and say sorry for any snark you received in the past from me, which was usually (exclusively?) for what Mozilla did and does.

Once again, thank you for promoting Rust, which has so many benefits in so many areas, and being friendly and helpful wherever I encountered your presence.

Would it be possible to crowdfund that role? People on youtube apparently earn a living by making videos in which they film themselves watching other youtube videos, so it ought to be possible :)

Maybe! I'm not sure I have the kind of skills needed to do such a thing.

Maybe setting up a Patreon account and posting what you did each week is sufficient. That seems to work for the youtubers, and it's more audacious to ask money for watching youtube videos than writing docs and promoting Rust ;-)

I have done this, and just for reference, my Patreon currently brings in $203/month. I am very grateful to my supporters, but making this scale doesn't look easy.

Thank you for all your work!

> I also thought his work in evangelizing Rust on HN, Reddit and a million other places was hugely important, and a big part of why there's a lot of positive buzz around the language.

Yeah. As someone working in Scala I honestly think I'm in the right language technically, but I wish we had even half the community spirit that Rust does, and Klabnik is a huge part of that.

Really? I've found the community of Scala really nice and welcoming, always ready to answer my stupid questions, one of the nicest communities I've had the chance to be around. A lot of people are critical of Scala sure, mostly around tooling and the language isn't mentioned a lot in discussion forums, but I think nonetheless there is a great spirit to be found in the Scala community and great learning resources for functional programming. Atleast that is my experience.


BTW, have you looked Scala/Rust interop? Both languages are ML-style languages, so they are close in spirit.

> BTW, have you looked Scala/Rust interop?

It doesn't look easy (there's no Rust ABI that preserves safety properties) and I'm not convinced there would be any benefit. The main reasons you'd want to write Rust rather than Scala would be faster app startup (and even then, scala-native or scalajs are options) or some realtime requirement that you couldn't meet with even carefully tuned Scala due to GC pauses (not a case that I'm convinced actually exists in the real world). In either of those cases a mixed Scala/Rust project would have the same issues as a pure-Scala one. Most things that scripting languages use native libraries for already have native-to-JVM implementations (e.g. media formats) and I'd sooner use a Java library than worry about an interop-to-Rust boundary. If Rust becomes the de facto standard for video codecs then I can eventually see maybe making occasional use of some ffmpeg-equivalent via JNI, but any such library would probably expose a C-ABI interface and be used through that rather than supporting any higher-level interop. (I suspect Rust is constrained by what LLVM offers in terms of stable interfaces).

Im a Scala guy that knows very little about rust so excuse the ignorance but what would the benefits be with regards to scala/rust interop?

Do all the stuff that can be done in a high-level GCed language in Scala, and drop down to a low-level language where GC is in the way.

I don't really see much opportunity for interop beyond the dog-slow JNI and C-style interfaces. Sure, you probably can do that, but it would be fairly exceptional situation where it would make sense, especially as afaik Scala has pretty decent perf by itself


I've been watching him from the sidelines since the shoes/hacketyhack days (a Ruby-based, cross-platform GUI toolkit and a programming environment for beginners built on the latter. He was leading those community-maintained projects after _why vanished from the Web in 2009).

He's been consistently excellent.

Before Rust, he also had a REST-based stint, writing about things like HATEOS.

A great loss for Rust, since he probably won't be able to dedicate as much time to it, and for Mozilla.

Of all companies, I would have expected the Mozilla Corporation to dearly value the work he was doing...

i think the point he's making in that post is he does have the time, and more importantly the passion and will to do so. the compensation he was receiving for having to work at a large org wasn't fair, and that's why he's changing directions.

Are there companies (outside of Mozilla) that would hire (or at least pay) someone like that to keep working on Rust and its documentation? These people are too important to not pay enough. I know it's perceived to be the price you pay if you work for a foundation like Mozilla (or open source software), but it's not fair.

I've seen a guy who worked full time on open source have a Patreon, which had a few big sponsors that would pay / donate $5K or $10k / month - that's another good option IMO. Although I'd donate it directly to him, instead of having Patreon scoop off their share.

There are a few companies who give some of their employees paid time to contribute to the parts of Rust that matter to them. As a team, we've been trying to figure out how to increase that number. We'll see!

One company that values documentation is Microsoft. There are technologies like Web Assembly/Blazor that could use an evangelist. Web Assembly within the framework of .NET Core+VS Code could be worth pushing.

Microsoft's documentation is really bad, in my opinion. So maybe Microsoft would be a good choice for Steve after all ;)

There are a few, but by in large, no. You have to have a company where OSS is part of the business model to some degree.

For most companies, the proposition for open source is that you get something of value for (almost) free. If you start paying someone to work on that thing the equation becomes more complicated. Now you are competing with 1) A different flavor of free (another project) and 2) Non-free but with an SLA that you can count on.

One of my favorite companies of all time, NoRedInk, hired Evan the creator of Elm full time just to work on ElmLang. I think it shouldn’t be too hard for any company relying on Rust in production to hire Steve or some of his team members.

This is true. Books on programming are rarely done so well.

This is a bummer on many levels, but also personally, a bit of a relief.

For a while I was considering going all-in to try to get a role at Mozilla. I really believe in their mission, and I drink the kool-aid when it comes to the browser market getting gobbled up.

What held me back at the time were the company reviews. The culture sounds toxic, and the management sounds incompetent, and there's no force of change that has done anything to change that in the past ~5 years.

So this is a relief, because random online statements are often a limited glimpse into a company, and I've been worried that I made a bad choice by not going for a role there, but seeing something like this come from steve is very damning for Mozilla.

Best of luck Steve, I’m sure you’ll end up somewhere great.

Mozilla isn't a monolith. Like most medium and large organizations, your experience can vary greatly between teams and management chains.

If Mozilla's mission and manifesto resonate with you, give it a shot. With Microsoft throwing their weight behind Chromium, we're the last bastion standing against a WebKit-derived monoculture. It's an impossible challenge, but it matters, and we've beaten the odds before. Current openings are at https://careers.mozilla.org/listings/, and I'd encourage you to apply.

That's the problem though. From the outside, there's no way to know if you're going to end up in the "good" part of the company or not. Sure, you can do your best to screen the company, but it's not too hard in the short interview process to mask a lot of the warts.

You could say this is true at any company, but it feels like more of a problem when comparing a company with lots of really good reviews/testimonials to one with very few good ones.

I think I'd have to have a close friend, or someone who I trust internally, to convince me of the quality of a particular team at this point, and I haven't got that. Also, I've moved off the career path, I think, that would be of value at Mozilla.

> From the outside, there's no way to know if you're going to end up in the "good" part of the company or not.

I think this is a serious problem in all sorts of fields, and I've never heard of a good answer. Sometimes Glassdoor is enough to get impressions like "healthy devops team, unhealthy frontend and sales teams", but with companies where the same job title appears on many teams it's even harder to sort out. I suspect you're right that it's a significant reason for word-of-mouth job searches; they're a candidate's best form of diligence.

It definitely cuts both ways, too - no matter what the prevailing culture a large company is likely to have teams out of sync with it. Places like Uber and Riot Games that make the news for bad culture have teams who aren't exposed to that stuff, and on the other side we've all heard stories of localized tyranny and incompetence within otherwise-great companies.

Yeah, personally, when I am trying to find this out if I'm speaking with a current employee who is on the team I would be working for, I try to drill down to see if problems are related to poor middle management (a single bad manager can destroy an entire team and any team that is connected to it), or whether it's endemic in the culture, which is harder to suss out, but is usually something you can infer when asking about over-arching company strategy and how plans get executed from the top down.

But why is this a problem? You don't go to work there and then you are stuck for 20 years. You can learn in 3 months if it is viable and if not, assuming you are well credentialed and easily employable, move on. It's worth the chance if you've drunk the kool-aid otherwise.

You're just giving yourself reasons to fail. Give yourself a reason to succeed.

The time and emotional effort of changing companies is a huge fixed cost, and I personally don't want to do it twice in three months ever, but you are right, it's always an option.

Mozilla Corp keep painting themselves as the only bearers of the Mozilla Manifesto values. But the reality is that MoCo has done so many missteps that they have lost all credibility there. You are still relying on the same and only end user product as in 2004 and drink the coolaid of Mitchell's talks twice a year at the all hands.

You are losing against chromium because gecko was never made a platform for others to use. There is not even a platform engineering group with its own VP since it got folded into Firefox when the engineering VP decided to cut the support for the only other gecko product, FirefoxOS. But hey, he's still on the payroll with an executive assistant making his haircut appointments, so all is fine!

The management is so risk adverse it's ridiculous given how much they have in the bank. The good news is that innovation on the web happens in other places now - just look at all dweb projects, another area that MoCo refused to staff at a decent level.

> the only other gecko product, FirefoxOS.

Thunderbird still has more users than FirefoxOS ever did.

At a technological failure, the more-or-less passive decision to abandon any embedding story for Gecko is probably Mozilla's single biggest fault. (I say more-or-less passive because the transition to Gecko 2.0 necessitated adjusting embedding hooks, and the original intent was that it would be temporary until a new embedding story could be worked out. The direct embedding was then abandoned in favor XULRunner, itself abandoned in favor of webapprt, itself abandoned in favor of... nothing, so far as I know).

KaiOS has 50M users heading toward 100M. This is the lineal descendant of FirefoxOS and shows that the latter failed only due to Mozilla leadership failures. Blaming it for weakness within Firefox or non-OS platform teams is self-refuting.

>Mozilla isn't a monolith. Like most medium and large organizations, your experience can vary greatly between teams and management chains.

That sounds like part of the problem. Mozilla shouldn't "vary greatly between teams and management chains" like it's some fossilized megacorp -- that's for the Oracle's of this world.

It should be a nimble and efficient non-profit style organization.

Yeah, that's what bothers me. They get hundreds of millions of dollars a year and they still manage to act like a cash-starved corporation.

1) "Can't afford" the development time to allow me to customize keyboard shortcuts. They deprecated the old functionality and replaced with a limited "oh, extensions can do that, but they only take effect after the page has loaded." Super Metroid had that in 1992 for the SNES.

2) No unsigned extensions because of a phantom "security risk". Not even if you enable it in an obscure part of the config. Geez, if I can't modify my own open-source software, what's the point? You might as well shrink-wrap Firefox and make me get it from Microsoft at Best Buy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taGARf8K5J8

3) Mr. Robot marketing integration, where the marketing was so important that they got to override reasonable concerns about "gee, do you really think we should force an add-on for a security update that has a cryptic message in its description?"

When is Atom/RSS support getting reintegrated into core Firefox, then?

As a Mozilla employee, I find the culture pretty good. Certainly better than in any other place I've worked.

I imagine that some other teams may have a different experience.

Good to know things are going fine for you now Yoric. I remember you were not he last one complaining a couple of years ago :)

Hello, fabrice_d :)

Oh, yes, I do remember of a branch that used to deserve complaints. As you know, that branch doesn't exist anymore :)

> culture sounds toxic

Is this an indirect reference to Brendan Eich's sacking or is it even worse?

Not the OP, but I don't have a problem with the Brendan Eich incident (if a CEO doesn't have the confidence of their employees, then they shouldn't be CEO), but I still have a bad impression of Mozilla culture. To me the clearest sign is their product decisions. They just haven't made a lot of sense recently.

I agree with you. I assume you are being downvoted because there is a lot of polarity around the Eich exit at Mozilla from ... both sides ... here on HN :)

I find it quite disappointing that drive-by downvotes are what happen, rather than more discussion, but that's life I guess.

Brendan Eich was never sacked by Mozilla (the company or the foundation). That said, it was the strong backlash from the community that impelled him to quit.

Please do not speak for me.

Even worse. I think the Brendan Eich sacking falls more in line with the management being incompetent.

I thought Brendan Eich /was/ management at the time of his defenestration.

Yeah, what I mean by this is that after his exit, management hasn't done much to help Mozilla, not that the act of his exit was a result of incompetent management.

I never knew Mozilla had a toxic culture. Could you expand on this (or any other former Mozilla employees attest to this)?

I have worked on Mozilla's JS team since 2010. I think our team culture is acceptable.

Glossing over details, Mozilla Corp seems to have two cultures: one for engineering and team management, and another for mid-to-upper-level management. When these two groups interact, it tends to produce unhappiness. Over the years, that has been the source of most griping I've heard from coworkers, particularly when they need upper management's approval.

Different parts of the company are pretty isolated from each other, and there's no real standardization, so experiences across the company likely differ from mine. The personal experience would depend a lot on who your manager is and how strongly they're able to advocate on your behalf, particularly when it comes to things like expanding your role and getting paid for that.

> Glossing over details, Mozilla Corp seems to have two cultures: one for engineering and team management, and another for mid-to-upper-level management.

This is in line with what I've heard from my friends who stayed longer than I did. But from my perspective now, wow does this sound toxic.

It's sad to see things be like this, I loved Mozilla for most of the time that I was there.

I haven't worked there so I don't want to go into detail as it would all be hearsay. I based this on some research I had done before considering a role there. I mainly read online, posts by former employees, and glassdoor reviews.

>The culture sounds toxic, and the management sounds incompetent, and there's no force of change that has done anything to change that in the past ~5 years.

The case regarding Daniel Micay and the Mozilla/Rust community is also worth looking into. But not sure how much is easy to come by as things have been deleted.

Thank you, Steve. You have personally done more to make the Rust community what it is today than possibly any other person. It speaks very poorly of Mozilla that they don't value your work.

Perhaps 2019 is the time to start the Rust Foundation, as mentioned by boats and others[0]. If so, you'd clearly be one of the founders. I would put my name into the ring for that as well, as we're now in somewhat similar circumstances. All it needs is some money, a lot for a pizza cook perhaps but a pittance by Silicon Valley standards.

Wherever our paths lead, I hope they continue to intersect!

[0]: https://boats.gitlab.io/blog/post/rust-2019/


I am really of two minds about a foundation. I've seen a few different variations of this idea, and they all have a lot of downsides, as well as upsides. It's not clear to me that it would be a win.

I'm with you. It would have to be well-run and not toxic, which is not the default in open-source, sadly. Perhaps I'm thinking about the world the way I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

I'm genuinely interested, could you expand a bit on what the downsides / upsides would be?

The pros and cons are both related to a thing that many people don't think about when it comes to non-profits: money. A foundation's job is to administer money. The pros are that well, someone has to do that work. Collectivizing helps; a random person giving $10 once isn't worth the management overhead, but 10,000 people giving $10 (or whatever) means you have a more substantial chunk of money. Additionally, projects also need things like legal support, which a foundation is well-set up to manage.

The cons are, well, that work is hard, and you can also end up in a position where you spend as much time fundraising as you do actually improving the project. This is why people talk about "efficiency" in non-profits, ideally these tasks take as little money as possible to do the administration, and spend as much as possible on the project. Also, when you're in the business of distributing money, you have to manage people's reactions to how you spend it, some people are going to be upset that you picked project A over project B, or person A over person B. That's also a form of overhead.

(and I'm not talking about MoFo here, I know very little about it or how it works. This is based on experiences with other non-profits and foundations that I've experienced and/or heard about elsewhere, and from lots of other people.)

Ah, I see what you mean.

Thanks a lot for the explanation, I've never really understood how foundations work.

IMO if no Rust Foundation already exists, it should. I don't chip in for much of anything, but I would chip in for this [1]. Of course, whatever I donate would be peanuts compared to corporate donors. Corporate donors might be fewer for now, but once GOOG/AAPL/FB/GE/GM/etc realize Rust's potential they should/would fork over big money to keep Rust going.

Steve, it's not my business to tell you what your career should be, and TBH I have no idea what your relationship is with the rest of the Rust dev team. But maybe you would be good at creating a Rust Foundation?

[1] -- it would have to be a real US 501c3 or global equivalent, not a kickstarter/gofundme.

> What I saw in Rust was something that the world really needed. And I wanted to help it get there. Beyond that, the only real way to get a job working on Rust was to work at Mozilla. And independently of Rust, that was something I’m really excited about.

A big part of what drew me into Rust is that the people behind it have reasonable ideas which are very well documented. I know this doesn't sound terribly exciting but the older I grow the more I appreciate that as something very valuable - and amiss in many projects.

Besides other things Steve contributed a lot to these values by writing documentation and first and foremost by being there and answering questions - online and at the conferences.

> Well, the first thing is that I don’t plan to stop working on Rust. How much I’ll be able to depends on what’s next, but that’s the great part about open source; I can continue to help the thing I love, even if it might not be full-time anymore.

Glad to hear that he continues working on Rust. I really hope he will find a job that allows him to work on Rust full-time though. Having to split ones attention isn't often going well. Maybe this is kind of litmus test for Rust even: As much as it hurts me to write this but if there isn't a well paying full-time opportunity in the Rust space for someone like Steve then maybe Rust isn't going anywhere.

I want to say from his past blog posts- Steve is a very thoughtful writer. And from all my online interactions in comments- a very respectful person.

Knowing him (whatever little) things must be really frustrating for him to call Mozilla out in public.

Rust is what it is- not because its an amazingly well designed language - lots of languages are very well designed Haskell, f#, Scala. But Rust has a very public development and Steve has been great at managing the public aspect.

I sincerely hope Steve takes a public facing role again.

> Rust has a very public development

I don't know how far Rust will go in adoption breadth and lifespan, but it's already clear that it's had a major impact on the community. Both personally and on HN, I've seen it drive a new cohort of people to take an interest in PL design, low-level languages and safety guarantees, and even kernel design theory. Talented people who have never previously gone in for C or C++ saw a chance to start in on those fields with Rust, to all of our benefit.

It's obvious to me that Steve (and the Rust team more generally) deserve a lot of credit for that. Their communication and community outreach have been unparalleled, and it's sparked great deal of interest and engagement that might otherwise have been missed.

" I've seen it drive a new cohort of people to take an interest in PL design, low-level languages and safety guarantees, and even kernel design theory. Talented people who have never previously gone in for C or C++ saw a chance to start in on those fields with Rust, to all of our benefit. It's obvious to me that Steve (and the Rust team more generally) deserve a lot of credit for that."

Exactly. They've done what Ada and other safe, systems languages couldn't do. They made it go mainstream with stronger protections than before on top of thriving community. Quite amazing.

This surprises me on so many different levels. To me, Rust is nearly the same thing as steveklabnik. Considering his level of engagement and enthusiasm I figured he was one of those people making easy SV money.

Between this and Jess Frazelle (another household name) never getting a promotion shows how wrong this industry is.

Mozilla is actually the best-paying job I've ever had, if that tells you anything. And it was an okay salary. I've never been more financially secure. But I'd like some of that "easy SV money" :)

Why do you think Mozilla was paying you less than your peers?

Mozilla overall pays less than your FAANGs or unicorns. Mozilla is in a pretty unique position here, and so I think doing so makes sense.

This doesn’t answer the question why you were earning less than your peers though?

Oh. My peers are engineers, my job title was technical writer. Across the industry, writers make less than engineers do.

If you asked your engineer peers how they would feel if you were paid an equivalent salary, I am confident some of them would admit that they would not like it. Privately, I think most of them would definitely not like it but would probably refrain from publicly admitting as much.

Which to me is the crux of the matter. If I was your manager at Mozilla and looking to maintain team cohesion and minimize talent loss, engineers would always come first. In my experience it is very common for managers with an engineering background to think that anyone can be a technical writer. Same for evangelizers. People do it for free if they like the technology that they are using. These are not strong bargaining foundations.

I think your first paragraph is on the money, this is indeed how many engineers and engineering managers think. You seem to throw in your cards with that viewpoint in your second paragraph, though, and I think the logic there is circular. Engineers and engineering managers persistently devalue the skillset behind being an excellent technical writer, and the value that an excellent technical writer brings to a project, which in turn weakens the “bargaining foundations” of technical writers artificially. It’s been my experience as an engineer that this artificial devaluation is harmful to projects both directly and indirectly, because technical writers are inevitably aware of the fact that it’s happening. That technical writing maybe has a greater foundation in so-called “soft skills” doesn’t mean that it’s less valuable, and especially in cases like Rust where the documentation can very reasonably be considered part of the product, it’s a huge mistake to undervalue the work of someone like Steve Klabnick that way. In general, I can’t imagine being resentful of a technical writer earning as much or more than me as an engineer: a perfect gem of software engineering that no one uses is a failed product, and it’s very much because of the work of technical writers that good projects see widespread use.

> he was one of those people making easy SV money

Yet what I see most of the time is that organizations exploit employees' passion. The more you like your job, the less likely you will leave, so why bother paying you more?

I had a moment of epiphany when my manager said to me in a 1-to-1: "You've been very passionate and doing great. Now $competitors are in town, so we will raise your pay by $a-double-digit-number %".

I went out of the meeting and said to myself "Screw it, I have been exploited for $X years. I will start looking for my next job tomorrow".

> "we will raise your pay by $a-double-digit-number %" ... "I will start looking for my next job tomorrow"

I've always wondered how much value employers lose via this sort of error. 'Reactive' compensation absolutely does drive people away, for good reason. Retaining employees by matching outside offers is even worse; outside the very highest levels it fosters instability and encourages people to interview elsewhere.

So sure, your employer saved ($X annually * years without raise). But then they lost an experienced employee, likely to a competitor, had to go through a new search-and-training period, and quite possibly had their prior crappy salaries on Glassdoor driving away candidates.

I assume it's a net win sometimes, but I strongly suspect it's often a short-term tactic that ends up not only mistreating employees but losing money.

> I've always wondered how much value employers lose via this sort of error.

I suspect nobody can come up with a number that would convince everyone in the chain in a large organization. If that could be done, I wouldn't end up in this situation in the first place.

But many employees would stay if they got the raise they asked for. Is it worse that the employer initiates the raise?

The act sent out two messages to me.

1. They have low-balled me before, they will do it again.

2. They don't pay based on how much value I generate but as little as they can to prevent me from moving.

Royality is a two way street. While the company doesn't have my best interest in mind, why should I have theirs in mind? It would be foolish for me to not look around. Once I put in the effort to look around and got a better offer, I might as well leave the company for good.

> To me, Rust is nearly the same thing as steveklabnik.

He's certainly very low-latency.

being a household name is very weakly correlated to "getting that SV money" (an exception being household names in machine learning, where you will indeed make all the money)

> To me, Rust is nearly the same thing as steveklabnik.

I thought it was designed by Graydon Hoare?

How is that relevant? GP literally used the words "to me". To anyone who has become acquainted with Rust in the past few years, steveklabnik is a much more familiar name than Graydon, who hasn't been actively involved in Rust development in a long time.

There's probably room for more than one person in building a new language/platform.

Well that's what I meant.

> To me, Rust is nearly the same thing as steveklabnik

That widespread perception could have been part of the problem.

> Why’d he quit? ... he told me this: at each stage of a company’s growth, they have different needs. Those needs generally require different skills. What he enjoyed, and what he had the skills to do, was to take a tiny company and make it medium sized. Once a company was at that stage of growth, he was less interested and less good at taking them from there.

This is an aspect that gets overlooked in many businesses & careers. I've heard it phrased that companies go through 3 stages: Startup, Scale Up, Optimize. The above quote is a sub-stage of Scale Up. Some people are built for just a single stage and knowing how and where your skillset fits in is crucial to career happiness. As well as knowing when to encourage employees to move on.

Great post and I wish @steveklabnik continued success in his career!

In my current role, I've seen the company go from 6 to 120 people, and it's absolutely true that there are some people that are really amazing at a 6 person company who can be extremely counter-productive in a company of even 30 or 40.

Also, startups, since they are often run by people new at running companies, are often slow to respond to these kinds of folks. It's also rare that folks recognize this in themselves. I very nearly quit my job when going through a bunch of rough patches, because I thought, maybe the company finally scaled past me. I'm glad I didn't because it's smooth sailing again, but it's always important to reflect on yourself and ask if you are really doing the best you can. It's really hard to quit a role that is going poorly, let alone going passably well.

Can you elaborate on what types of people you mean?

There's no one type, and it depends on the company. But a general archetype which seems to reoccur is that of the generalist.

Early on, people wear a lot of hats, which means they get to be involved in a lot of different parts of the company and its growth. At a certain stage, teams compartmentalize, and people who don't like being isolated to one or two teams tend to get frustrated with companies as they become more structured.

There's also often a phase where that structure is just starting to be formed, and it can be very awkward and unappealing to people as it plays out.

Thanks for the reply....

To borrow from the Harry Potter universe, early stage startups need Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, but then as the company grows more and more Hufflepuffs get hired, and sooner or later the company ends up on the radar of Slytherins, who are focused mostly on obtaining fame and renown, and who are more likely to have what muggles call "dark triad" personality traits.

What's most fascinating about the Hogwarts metaphor is that members of each house each bring some useful value, but the core values of each are often in conflict with the core values of the others.

At some point Mozilla went from being a heroic struggle that appealed to people who had a specific vision for the future of the internet, and turned into a status symbol like having Harvard on your résumé. This happens to any successful startup. A company that would never have appealed to a lot of workers suddenly becomes desirable (all else being equal) because of the status associated with it. Not to bash MBAs, but this is why I advise a "absolutely no MBAs" policy for startups.

MBA diplomas are simply status symbols and most people who have the degree joke about how easy it was to obtain and how much partying/networking they did while in school. They also graduate expecting to be placed in a leadership role due to the degree, even though young MBAs typically have little to no actual work experience or hard skills. I've seen overly confident MBAs nearly sink funding rounds for startups because they thought they were being clever with accounting and the investors saw right through it.

For what it's worth, I don't know if anyone here, me included, considers Mozilla a "status symbol" on the resume. It certainly is nowhere near FAANG in terms of inbound recruiter volume. People who want status symbols go to Google.

(I chose Mozilla over large company offers a decade ago because the work seemed more interesting, knowing full well it was more of a gamble in terms of my career. I've never regretted the decision.)

I obviously can't speak for anyone else on this, but I have actually given ex-Mozilla people a bit of a boost in the past when I've interviewed people because I view it as a) a semi-prestigious company, and b) a company filled with people who really like programming.

Great points. I agree with you on most counts except hufflepuffs are known to be loyal and I don't know if that's how I would characterize the middle stage employees. I'd say they are more like muggles. Quietly do what's told, no more no less.

An old thread[0] used different terms like “commandos, infantry & police”; or “pioneers, settlers & town planners” but which correspond roughly to your “startup, scale up & optimize” description, to explain the 3 stages of a company’s lifecycle.

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9159398

I've interacted with Steve a few times on the Rust IRC channel and he's always been super awesome and helpful. He's also been very receptive to feedback on the Rust documentation and helped me to contribute to it.

Thanks for all your hard work on Rust, Steve, and good luck with the future!

Mozilla sounds like your average PHB-led corporation.

This is also one of the reasons I'm skeptical about Rust, since Mozilla is the backbone of Rust development. They don't strike me as an organisation that can shepherd a programming language long term and with their market share taking a nose dive they're bound to get even more desperate and cut non-essential projects or make new data-sharing partnerships.

Anyways, good luck on your next adventure. Based on your work, you don't deserve to be the lowest paid in the team...

Mozilla doesn't really "shepherd" Rust development. We've constructed the Rust project so that Mozilla cannot control it; decisions are made via consensus, and Mozilla employees make up ~10% of the overall Rust team. There's never been some sort of mandate to do something specific with Rust from upon high, and I don't expect there to ever be. If they tried, it wouldn't work!

Which is fantastic - I'm very glad that the people of the Rust project were so forward thinking. Thanks for all of your work so far - I know it's helped me and so many others get started using Rust, which I managed to be able to use for a new project at work, where it has been a joy.

All the best, and I hope an even better opportunity comes your way!

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure I fully agree. If you quit a position where you get paid full time to work on Rust because of reasons having to do with your working relationship, maybe MoCo doesn't control the project, but it clearly has an important influence.

Ultimately, if you regard money as somehow inherently corrupting, you're never going to be satisfied unless nobody is getting paid to work on the project. Even a foundation has to get its funding from somewhere.

The big concern is not that it wouldn't work, it is that they might try, and that you may have been one of the things preventing that from happening.

All the best luck going forward, because you absolutely deserve it.

If that's your worry, then you should be relieved by this change. This is one more person who is involved with decisions in Rust who isn't employed by Mozilla.

That said, to repeat, I don't believe this is something Mozilla would ever try to do.

And thanks.

I can assure you that Mozilla will not try to take control of Rust development.

(It's unclear to me what that would even mean anyway. Rust is getting pretty mature, and the direction of the language is largely fixed at this point.)

> This is also one of the reasons I'm skeptical about Rust, since Mozilla is the backbone of Rust development.

The most important thing is that Mozilla's management has never tried to control the direction of Rust. That's more than can be said for most other languages with corporate backing.

What does "PHB" mean? (Google isn't giving me any answers)


Think of it as roughly synonymous with "empty suit" or "airhead".

Pointy Haired Boss, from Dilbert (https://dilbert.com/)

Why is it that nonprofit tech organizations see such value in maintaining a San Francisco office location (looking at you Mozilla and EFF) only to lowball employees on compensation?

Surely the perception of having a trendy location can't be worth more than market salaries in the pursuit of talent? Are there other benefits to the location besides perception?

> Are there other benefits to the location besides perception?

Definitely. Access to talent pool, networking opportunities, easy customer research, marketing, and so much more.

It really seems like a double gut-punch from my perspective. I was approached by a recruiter representing EFF when I graduated (state school in the midwest) and while 75K for a fresh grad seemed like reasonable compensation for a non-profit, when I viewed that in the context of both a cut for the recruiting body shop and the high cost of living in SF for both a company and individual that it was a farcical proposal.

Would the fight for digital liberties really be _that_ encumbered by a location in Kansas City, Austin, Atlanta, or even a generic Valley office park?

KC native here. I haven't been to SF, and don't ever plan to. I live 12 miles away from my work (to the East, thank goodness), and bought a home a few years ago in a very nice suburb for $160k. 3 bed, 2.5 bath, gigantic finished basement and 2 car garage. My mortgage is like $1.3k/month

For the same $1.3k in SF, I could get a deluxe cardboard box by the side of the road. No thank you. And KC is google fiber as well, so I'm getting great internet for $50/mo.

I really think more tech companies should try KC or Austin. The cost of living is much lower, so more of people's salaries becomes spending money.

> Would the fight for digital liberties really be _that_ encumbered by a location in Kansas City, Austin, Atlanta, or even a generic Valley office park?

Probably not, but it's hard to convince your entire company to up and move. SF is not perfect, and there are big problems with it, but there are also lots of nice things about it and it's a known quantity. Personally I do want to leave soon, but to where is a big question with no obvious answer.

Mozilla was big on remote work, at least while I was there. In fact I can't think of too many other places that had as many remote workers doing that level of systems programming.


I don't know you but I wish I did.

You seem like one of those really lighthearted folks that make everything better in life. From reading your answers on IRC and Hacker News, You are always humble and eager to provide answers. When confronted with arrogance and ignorance on several replies here, You reacted with facts and without ever taking the conversation in an impolite manner.

You see, one thing I believe is the cancer of our current line of work (tech) is the notion that we must obey blindly to some kind of savior or master, and that we have to put up with the masters' erratic and disrespectful behavior, for he is the 'bringer of the vision' to us not-as-enlightened folk. We don't need to put names but several come to mind when it comes to FOSS and stuff, right? In your case, I consider you a true master, for that you encourage collaboration without ever being uncouth to others just because of a position of power.

Your honesty and kindness shines specially in your post regarding Mozilla. You are one of those people that are able to talk "uncomfortable stuff" without making people reading it uncomfortable.

Thank you for being an awesome leader and I hope to read more and more of your answers and informational posts here, take it from the unknown no-names of the Internet like me: you are doing it right and being like this is gonna keep making people gravitate towards your works throughout your life.

May you multiply your ability of connect people with your heart, a skill which is much lacking in the current world of ever greater egos.


In my opinion Steve's efforts have been nothing short of herculean, proving invaluable to Rust. If Mozilla can't recognize this, then that is a tragedy.

Interacting with him on HN has been nothing short of a pleasure.

Best of luck wherever you go, Steve!

For those that missed it, this is a subtle nod to Ariana Grande's "Thank u, next" song/tweet:



Never did I ever expect to see that on HN. <3

2019 culture clash is already wild.

It's not really subtle thb.

Steve, thank you for your work on Rust. I can honestly say that your writing was the most important factor in getting me excited and into Rust. Your book is a pleasure to read, it's a gold standard. Overall, the quality of Rust's documentation is a beacon in the field, and I understand you've contributed much there.

I'm sad (and a bit angry at Mozilla) that you didn't get the career recognition you deserved at Mozilla. I look forward to seeing what you work on next.

Agreed, I've started spending more time learning rust, and the book + your comments here on HN about Rust internals makes the learning so much pleasant, thank you for those!

> Furthermore, I don’t have any personal opportunity at Mozilla; I recently discovered I’m the lowest-paid person on my team, and Mozilla doesn’t pay particularly well in the first place. In order to have any kind of career growth

A tech company couldn't find a better evangelist IMO. Steve, you should be commanding a top tier salary.

I wonder if he was told, repeatedly, "if you don't like it, leave". My experience has been that companies who don't want to change say this to their best employees, whilst dragging along their worst ones indefinitely. The best eventually follow the advice.

Re Fuchsia: "They use a lot of Rust, and plan to use more."

When I look at Fuchsia source I don't see much Rust. There is Fargo, a Cargo wrapper that integrates Rust into the Fuchsia build system, but I don't see a lot of actual Rust code in the system.

What am I missing? I've cloned Topaz, Zircon and some other large Fuchsia repos, but I see only a smattering of Rust source.


I'd be interested to know more about what disenchanted him -- if he's willing/able to share, of course -- from Mozilla, besides what he briefly mentioned regarding pay and opportunity. I can understand the need to move on from a position that is no longer of interest, but are there "political" reasons? He hints at incidents, for example.

I don't think it's particularly professional to get into more detail than I did in my post, as much as I'd like to. As the saying goes, there are three sides to every story. I'd rather focus on the future.

Why hint at it at all then? Without details it won't satisfy the curious nor help fix whatever problems there might be. As someone who still works for Mozilla out of conviction, this feels like an unnecessary low blow.

I can’t speak for steve, but having been in a similar position, hinting at it signals to peers that if they are feeling similar things, they aren’t alone. It’s easy for a lot of toxic culture to go unspoken, and to be gaslighted into thinking things are great, a post like this helps reinforce that stuff (yes vague) is not great and maybe it will lead more folks within Mozilla to pull off the rose colored glasses.

Basically: it’s not for the general reader, but a specific subset of them, if I were to take a guess.

Working for Mozilla, I feel I should be able to make sense of these hints, but I can't. I have no clue what issues or missteps were deal-breakers for Steve, apart from the compensation issue. Any organization of the size will have /some/ problems, and I fail to see the usefulness of signaling that's so vague that anybody can interpret it in any way they want.

Maybe you should ask someone in your management chain why Steve was punished for expressing his concerns, thereby ensuring you wouldn't have heard about them internally at Mozilla.

Fair, then the alternative interpretation could be that he wanted to vent :)

I tried to stick purely to facts. I don't want this to be taken as some sort of low blow. Maybe email me with some specifics that you think are bad and I can edit the post?

You talk as if you are _owed_ these explanations. You are not.

I read the post as an explanation of his decision, with as much information as he was comfortable sharing. And since it's his post, his job and his _choice_ then that's all we get.

I don't want to and can't prevent Steve from blogging about whatever he wants. But I want him to know that the vague hints feels sour and not particularly professional.

I have no problem with hinting at it. If someone inside Mozilla whom Steve normally does not deal with is concerned and as curious, and wants to know the problem(s) AND fix it, they will give Steve an opportunity to chat (not necessarily asking him back). If they are not interested in fixing or listening then it will be a typical exit interview.

I suspect you might be able to get more info over a non-public channel. For me as an outsider, seeing this is helpful to put it into context (and evaluate what sort of failure this is and how this impacts my future trust of Rust / Mozilla / Steve / etc.) but it's certainly not something that's my place to fix. And I understand that many people are unhappy with their management for what sounds like broadly similar reasons, and this isn't a statement that Mozilla is uniquely bad.

Proponents of the open web should be very, very worried about the terrible mismanagement of Mozilla.

Perhaps it's time Rust (which in the meantime has been adopted from many teams, from Microsoft, to Dropbox, FB and more) to get some more independence, and have an independent structure and organization fund them.

If Mozilla doesn't play well with their core business, and actually innovate, and piss people off even in their side projects like Rust, they'll continue the race to irrelevancy in browsing market share and loose their search engine placement deals. It's not that difficult to go from hundreds of millions per year to nothing fast.

Steve, just wanna thank you for the excellen twork you've done at making Rust more accessible to normal people like myself. Your book is an invaluable resource to newcomers to the language.

Departures happen, but the way in which they happen determines the culture and maturity of a company; its sad to see Steve leave like this.

I hope you go somewhere that truly values you.

I'm not a programmer (yet?) in any large sense. I've done some simple old-school web-dev including some JS, PHP, etc. and have only dabbled with other languages otherwise back in college and on my own.

I've read through a large portion of the Rust book and really appreciate how good it is. It's very clear and made me feel like I grasped quite a bit in a short time. Maybe someday I'll be writing or contributing to Rust projects.

Thank you Steve!

With regards to Fuchsia it's not really much new in OS design: a microkernel with the same old issues of each 'component' being a server and the complexity it entails.

If I could work on an operating system it would be something like http://www.barrelfish.org/ but with a few big changes.

Hi Steve, I looked at the title and I had this gut feeling of what the post is going to contain. It was a real bummer to hear about your leaving Mozilla. You did some serious job with Rust. My first contact with the Rust language was through your posts here. There was a feeling that you are virtually everywhere on the Internet where someone mentions Rust. Always very helpful with your writings. On the other hand, I'm happy for you and hope that you can find a place where your work is appreciated and well compensated.

Your post makes me a bit worried with what's going on with Mozilla, and also for the future of the Rust language. I have mixed feelings about Mozilla myself. Some people mentioned in the comments something about a Rust Foundation. I will definitely be happy to chip in if it's in the plan.

Thank you for everything, and good luck wherever you go next (:

> A company that thinks they can take webassembly (and their product built on it) to the next level

Epic? Unreal Engine was one of the first 3D engines with WASM output, and if you thought you'd never work at a payments company and loved it, you might enjoy gamedev (or gamedevdev in this case). Also Raleigh NC is a nice place to live.

Raleigh is great and is absolutely worth moving across the country for. Low cost of living, significant cultural capital, and very easy access to both the beach and mountains.

It's ideally located to live in a nice house, have a great job in software, and not die of boredom. Plus there's a lot happening in tech in nearby Durham.

Only complaint (and why I left) is that the region lacks good public transit. Having a car is pretty much a requirement.

Raleigh’s nice. I grew up and went to school in Raleigh.

It’s not nice enough to move cross country.

I dunno. Last I checked Raleigh was one of the fastest growing cities in the country. And I doubt all of those people are coming from the rest of the East Coast. I'm pretty sure at least a handful of people are, indeed, moving cross country to relocate here.

We both know Durham is better though ;P

And Chapel Hill is better than both! :p

All joking aside, colloquially speaking, I assume that "Raleigh" is shorthand for the entire greater Triangle region when speaking to, or in regards to, outsiders. Personally, I live in Chapel Hill, but I consider myself a "citizen of the Triangle". :-)

I feel fairly certain, Steve, that I wouldn't have learned Rust without you writing the docs and having you contribute here on HN. Thanks! You're amazing.

1. What happen to the Ruby and Rails part of the History?

2. How on earth did you came from Pizza to Tech?

3. I read it as if you were working on Firefox Pre 1.0 and Rust in Mozilla. And I don't think that is the case?

4. Finally someone pointing out the problem with Mozilla. ( Far to often they want to play themselves as the Saint or as David vs Goliath )

5. Have you thought about doing something with Rust and BlockChain?

Anyway Best of Luck.

1. It just wasn't super relevant! I left the pizza job for an internship at a company doing PHP, then left that internship to do a startup in Rails.

2. The pizza job was through high school and college, I transitioned to tech after I had the degree.

3. I have never contributed to Firefox, but I have been a passionate user for years (I'm writing this comment in Firefox, for example)

5. I'm not particularly interested in blockhain stuff. There is a lot of Rust in that area though!

Thank you.

This is sad.

I plan to do Rust in 2019 more. I'm amaze by performance of Rust software(Parity of Ethereum). My friends who read HN that I talked to knew Rust because of Steve. It sounds ridiculous but it's what I observed.

Mozilla do a lots of experiment and weird projects. yet they aren't willing to put him on same level of pay scale.

> I started working at 15, when I took a job as a pizza cook. Over the next seven years, I moved up the ranks, to a driver, shift manager, and then as part of the “new store opening team.”

Driver is up the ranks from cook? I don't know why, but I always assumed that it was the other way around.

They're sort of close, status wise, at least at the chain I worked for, but a driver has more requirements (I started as a cook at 15 and so legally could not drive a car) and pays better (tips are substantial, cooks are un-tipped.)

Yet another Mozilla blunder. When is it going to stop? It's sad, because the world is better for having Firefox as the only competition to Chrome (and more generally Webkit/Chromium browsers).

Every good thing people are saying about Steve's contributions are true. His efforts stand out not just within the Rust community but across every open source project I've engaged with. Thank you Steve and good luck!

Really a bummer. I learned about Steve when he did awesome stuff with Rails, and knowing him work on Rust and frequently answering questions about Rust everywhere makes learning Rust a privilege to me. Thank you, Steve.

Wyldfire's comment got me thinking- you should go work for Microsoft. They value developer relationship immensely. And I hear they treat their employees well, not just monetarily.

It saddens me that he got disciplined for voicing his frustrations

Steve, you have inspired me many times over for your diligence and incredible work. Good luck on your future project, whichever one it is!

Congrats and all the best!

The 2nd half would make a great cover letter to those organizations.

If Mozilla paid well it would be known and people would actually criticize them for doing so (being a non-profit).

The Mozilla Corporation isn't a not-for-profit, that's the Mozilla Foundation, though I think your point is that they are intertwined and people would make a fuss.

The title comes off as kind of an F you.

I understand that intentions don't always matter, but if you read the lyrics to the song, I think it's more the opposite.

I accept this explanation, but am not going to look up a pop song to verify it.


I've known Steve for a long time in the pgh tech scene, and not knowing the exact reasons for this transition, I will say money has never been top of mind for him.

never let the content get in the way of a good sneering, i guess.


I guess Steve should have been grinding leetcode problems for hundreds of hours instead of helping out with Rust in order to not be "looked down upon by serious engineering teams".

In all seriousness, had really good interactions with him in the Rust channel. Neat to see an author engage with the community and help out. Contributions, should they decrease, will be missed.

Nobody said anything about what Steve should have been doing. Given that money is the core issue in his post and he's mentioned sweet SV dollars in this thread, it doesn't hurt to note the prevailing attitude these days which (largely) favors engineering and 'show me the code'. Good engineers have tremendous leverage and can command extremely good salaries. Evangelizers not really and as I said they _are_ often looked down upon by engineers.

Looking at Steve's 177 'source' repositories @ Github and disregarding documentation and presentations, there is absolutely nothing that can be described as substantial engineering. Throwaway code, small sample projects and tiny tutorials and more often than not, skeletons and incomplete beginnings. Yes the Rust book is excellent but at the end of the day, nobody who is in the position to give out SV $$ really cares. Had Steve spent his years using Rust to solve hard problems, he'd have recruiters banging on his door 24/7 but the fact is that documentation and hype on HN and reddit is not a good recipe for a solid career.

I don't know Steve personally and I have no dog in the Rust race, merely expressing what I have personally experienced working in SV for over a decade.

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