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Mozilla lays off 70 (techcrunch.com)
929 points by ameshkov 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 904 comments



I'm one of the 70. There were no signs that this was imminent, although Mozilla has been struggling financially for many years. I expected that it would happen eventually; I'm relatively well-prepared for it; and it's not too shocking. I did however expect that there would be some warning signs in the lead-up, but that was not the case.

I was working on Cranelift, the WebAssembly compiler that is also a plausible future backend for Rust debug mode. Before that, I worked on the SpiderMonkey JITs for 9 years. If anyone has need for a senior compiler engineer with 10 years of experience writing fast, parallel code, please do let me know.


Shoot me an email agal at apple. Also feel free to give my email to anyone else affected.


For others who are interested in who's the parent is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Gal


That's cool.


Sounds like a pretty clueless layoff, I guess I expected better from Mozilla than usual corporate derp. If there was truly no dead weight, surely the management could have scaled back their own comp for misdirecting the company? Very few people understand what it means to be a leader in corporate world.


> for misdirecting the company?

As someone who has been using Netscape before even Internet Explorer exists, and followed all of its development through to Firefox till recent few years. I am not surprised.

At first you give them benefits of doubt, because their ideal were good. Then it happened again, again, and again.

>Mozilla Corporation (as opposed to the much smaller Mozilla Foundation) said it had about 1,000 employees worldwide.

Yes, you do need lots of people for making something as complex as browser, But 1000? Out of the 70 employees, they decided to lay off more than a few senior engineers with a decade of experience.

I dont know if this will change HN's perspective on Firefox and Mozilla. Every time I pointed something negative on Mozilla there are someone quick to defend it. As someone who used to religiously defend Netscape and Mozilla when I was much younger. I get it. I could understand the appeal, the ideal. Until you grow older and realise, You didn't have that ideal, the ideal had you.


>I dont know if this will change HN's perspective on Firefox and Mozilla.

Even if it did, what can we do?

Giving Chrome more market share gives Google more power to shape the future of web technologies, controversial stuff like Manifest v3 and AMP that HN loves to hate.

Personally I'm rooting for Firefox and Mozilla, not out of being a fan of them, but because I'm afraid of the alternative.


Completely agree, but do we have to root for Mozilla if we want to root for Firefox?


I'm not sure what your question is, there's all sorts of uninteresting complications to the trademarks on the name "Firefox" and how Mozilla deals with it.


Interestingly this appears like the same misconception and misdirection that lets people be deluded by their idea of "science".

A field that should be an ideal, inherently good space for knowledge and humanity to expand is in fact a cesspool of greedy assholes chasing grants and prestige, reflected in the circumstances around journal publishing.

Egos first, then comes science. If your priorities are the other way around, then sincerely good luck to you.


What's the alternative? Google? Not really better even if this disappoints about Mozilla.


Edge or Brave. Different business models than Google's and to some extent Mozilla's.


But still beholden to the same rendering engine, and therefore Google's technical decisions about the future of the web. Which is exactly why I would strongly prefer for Mozilla to stay strong, even aside from the non-profit aspect of it.


Still 100% depending on Google, still supporting a near monopolistic position for the browser. Every Chromium fork is part of the problem, not the solution.


Engine consolidation happened, the fight now is over privacy. When and if Brave is big enough we will chart our own engine course.


To stay in the martialistic metaphor: In this fight you merely wield the weapons your opponent forges for you. If Google decides to dull your edge in the fight for privacy, you have little influence to sharpen it again.

The only reason you are even able to fight this battle is because of the existance of Firefox. All of the Chrome based browsers are toothless tigers without Mozilla.


I am a for-real founder of Mozilla so spare me. I poured 16 years into it, including a bunch of coding as well as recruiting key talent, managing, and strategic decision making. We restarted the browser market when conventional wisdom said it could not be done. This enabled us to restart web standards (WHATWG => HTML5, ECMA-262 new editions). We did that (not you, unless I know you from old days).

But Google is a monopoly now and has tied its browser to its other products to take over adjacent markets, or buy other companies that pioneered such markets. Mozilla depends on Google for most of its revenue, and on a declining (traffic) basis. Reality requires acknowledging my and others work on Mozilla but not dying on that nostalgic hill. Especially not with such arrant mismanagement as is going on there now.


I left Mozilla (brief undistinguished tenure; briefer overlap with you) in part because I felt it simply refused to acknowledge that the Internet of 2005 (dominated by 500M people using web browsers in democracies) was not the Internet of 2015 (3B people, mostly apps on smartphones, tracked by their SIM cards and social networks). I was thrilled to start working on FirefoxOS, then soon experienced it as a kind of doubling-down of denial. Skimming Brave's About page, I don't see anything that addresses the existence of Verizon or Windows OS-level security, let alone WhatsApp. I have no idea the extent to which other people think this way, but to me the silence of Mozilla and Brave on the extent to which browsers on laptops have simply been overwhelmed by the rise of other tools and other layers makes it hard to take their pronouncements seriously.

PS, thanks for saving the Web when you did. It seems genuinely heroic to me.


Brave isn’t making an OS or network (yet), but the browser is still critical, to the degree that bigs spend billions on their own, and now privacy law and user blocking demand are reshaping the $330B+ online ad ecosystem. That is a good place to start fighting for the user, imho.


"User" is a perfect encapsulation of the mindset we need to leave behind. For the people who use web browsers, Google's ad tracking is the least of their worries. Here's Schneier:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/20/opinion/facial-recognitio...


Oh come on -- that was a Tron ref and no offense to the clueful (which includes people on HN).

If you want to boil the ocean before helping people in an important segment of the population, good luck. Or were you just being defeatist?


On FirefoxOS, of course gal cjones shaver & I launched it (not quite with all the other execs on board) to address the next billion internet users. I’m glad it worked out but sorry the place and name are KaiOSTech — it was Mozilla’s to see through but they faded.


On engine futures, slow forking works, that is how chromium/Blink emerged from from WebKit. New engines taking lots of capital may happen, probably when there is a massive Bell’s Law device class shift. To argue for others without deep pockets dying on the last war’s hill is to wish those others ill (whether you mean it or not). Users deserve better browsers, and the big user value fight is truly a level up from the engine.


The more influence Google gets over the web standards, the more they will steer it in order to raise the barrier of entry for web engine makers. It will also get them more and more power over what can be commercially viable on the web. Making it easier for them to set the rules for everyone on the web seems directly detrimental to your business. As time passes by for Brave to became "big enough" (supposedly to develop a 2020 state of the art web engine), the complexity of starting a new engine from scratch would continue to grow.

It seems that keeping Gecko up to date with the web standards is the only way to have an concurrent implementation for mid-term. This will get more and more difficult to do the more marketshare Blink gets, since it gets easier for Google to shoehorn whatever they want in the web standards by first making it a "de-facto" standard by implementing it in Blink.


This happens already, e.g. AirBnB deploys new content that breaks in Firefox (perhaps not totally; could be cosmetic or a corner case). Webdevs do not test in low share browsers.


Find "slow forking" elsewhere to see my response to your concern that we would have to make an entirely new engine from scratch this year or next. That's not the threat. We strip out Google tracking already and work in W3C to keep them from jamming premature standards through -- if they try turning any such on without other browsers agreeing, we will disable.


You know better than anybody the size of the task of rolling a homemade engine. Is this some vaporware promise or does Brave already started something around this idea?


Not Brendan, but I don't think anyone doubts that Brave would break from the Chromium homogeneity if it were practical to do so.

Production-quality browser engines are not basement projects. Even Google waited until they were the big kid on the block to undertake the project. Per Wired at [0]:

> "The browser matters," CEO Eric Schmidt says. He should know, because he was CTO of Sun Microsystems during the great browser wars of the 1990s. Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin know it, too. "When I joined Google in 2001, Larry and Sergey immediately said, 'We should build our own browser,'" Schmidt says. "And I said no."

> It wasn't the right time, Schmidt told them. "I did not believe that the company was strong enough to withstand a browser war," he says.

Piggy-backing on Google's engine for the time being is effectively turning the Goliath's momentum against itself. If Brave gets a sustainable revenue model and good-enough market penetration, I'd have every expectation that they'd feel liberated to take more direct control over the platform.

[0] https://www.wired.com/2008/09/mf-chrome/


May be in the future web will be simpler?

My theory: browser of the future will need to support wasm and webgl (well, not webgl, but something similar, providing fast and safe interface for GPU). Of course along with smaller standards like fetch api, but that's manageable.

Most of the useful websites will utilize those tech to build their UI from scratch without using of HTML, CSS or JS.

And HTML, CSS and JS engines could be just another wasm blob. For example parts of chromium engine adapted and compiled for wasm. So it's like jQuery.


That just sounds terrible for both SEO and accessibility.


I'm not sure "chart our own engine course" necessarily means "roll our own engine".


Privacy is not using Google's engine.

I would have given Brave a more serious try if it weren't for that.

(although I very much dislike the payment system, presented as an alternative to the tracking privacy nightmare the web has become. I'm not paying for the difference, that's ridiculous. I saw what they did to the web, I'm not paying to keep them away)


Engines do not by themselves raid user privacy, and we strip out front end and middleware tracking from chromium/Blink. See https://github.com/brave/brave-browser/wiki/Deviations-from-....

You have “who pays” exactly backwards about optional Brave Rewards in your closing parenthetical. We pay you, we do not make you pay.


[flagged]


Your comment shows malice (ascribing motives to us), as that blunder was quickly corrected, and the tokens at stake came from our fund. Try Hanlon’s Razor.


> Your comment shows malice [...] Try Hanlon’s Razor.

For the sake of internal consistency you should accuse GP of stupidity, not malice.


Do a search on that handle in connection to Brave/me, notice patterns. Also I do not take ascribing motives to be a sign of low intelligence, per se.

Product and design people who were involved in our blunder had the best of intentions, and I'm not saying they were stupid either, but they missed the mark and we corrected within a month.

To say "fraud" is to accuse us of a crime, deceiving for gain, which we did not do. We were the source of funds, we did not take anything due to anyone. But the product design was on edge of infringing rights to publicity, even if by scraping, and the appearance of donation fraud was bad. Sorry again for this error. The team learned from it.


Both run the Chrome engine! That's not an alternative. You really want all available browsers run the same engine, and one that is developed by Google?? You realize they are at step two of "embrace extend extinguish", right? And you realize that by showing their cards with AMP, they totally aren't above actually doing it too?

What do you suppose will happen when the entire web runs on the Chrome engine? No good things.


There are no good alternatives. The corporations have hijacked the design-by-committee "open standards" by requiring DRM. Hobbyists are shut-out.

Mozilla's FF was once a viable alternative to FAANG privacy monetization, but they're flailing around like their leadership doesn't know what to do but fire engineers and re-organize the deck chairs (org chart) on the Titanic.


i don't know what they do for money, but i suppose it's not giving away free internet browsers. so it might have something to do with that.


Search revenue share deals, mainly with Google.


Thanks. Although it doesn't really clear up the mystery of what that workforce of theirs is doing.


Look at the majority of the titles under https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/leadership/.


Many corporate leaders are Peters at work [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle


I would think the Peter Principle would be better represented if there was someone who was a star on the technical side, but messed up as the CEO in a role they couldn't handle. i.e. if Brendan Eich was CEO and this happened it would be a Peter Principle moment.

All these senior leadership people seem to be straight from the management track. Doesn't seem like they showed their excellence in another discipline and were then misplaced as CEO.


Through the bank my experience is that a technical background with someone growing into a leadership role ultimately creates better results. People whose only skill is "leadership" tend to perform pretty badly.

But the Peter principle, doubtful if it even can be taken seriously, doesn't say anything about this specifically.

I don't know anything about Eich, but I don't really see how he would have been bad for Mozilla as a CEO. He had some controversial views as some have reported, but I don't really think that would have been very relevant, especially if so many people disagree.

All that aside, that the execs at Mozilla get millions and they still lay off 70 people is bad leadership. Really, really bad leadership. And the recent focus seem to underline that failure in my opinion.

Mozilla has done incredible things for the net and technology. Sadly, I think this is subject to change.


> He had some controversial views as some have reported, but I don't really think that would have been very relevant, especially if so many people disagree.

As far as I know, he never expressed what his “views” were. People just found he donated $1000 (which was .002% of the total funds raised) towards a proposition opposing same-sex marriage. There didn’t seem to be anyone who had worked with him, regardless of orientation, who felt uncomfortable with him, or were even aware of it. His contributions having an effect were gated by a democratic vote, and his financial contribution was so small that I can’t imagine it having a substantial effect on the outcome.

To me the fact that he had the maturity to restrict his political discourse to the same means available to any other voter, to his private life, and was discreet enough that nobody knew about it for years, made him look better. Mozilla is supposed to be making the internet accessible to everybody, even people who hold conflicting views.

The quote comes to mind:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


Surely the Mozilla execs don't take millions? And beg for charity??

I know Mozilla Corp/Org are technically split, but if one head of Cerberus ate all the food surely it doesn't still need feeding.


they do take millions. the money they take is basically from Google's search deal (thought technically a few other sources too).

The money you donate only goes to the foundation, which does not pay the exec, so any donation does not actually go to exec. The donations are required for the foundation to function at all, regardless of how well the corporation does.

to be honest, the whole thing is a bit of a hack though, because really mozilla functions 100% like a corporation even if they had a real foundation inside. its just a way to ensure that the board is Mitchell Baker - not a bunch of people who want the company to profit. this has good and bad sides, and right now we're definitely seeing the bad sides: exec get paid 800k to 2500k (Mitchell), senior devs get fired for making - i bet, 100k to 300k.

foundations are made to be places where you make the world a better place without having the "i want to make money" motto and that's not what Mozilla does. Mozilla wants money to pay execs and keep on surviving. Many other foundations have similar hacks (or arguably, scams!). The other advantage is that the foundation side does not pay tax of course.


Read the link above. The Peter Principle does not require change from tech to mgmt — it simply describes promotion above one’s level of competence.


Yes, I'm just using tech as an example. It still requires them to be excellent in any one field and then move into another field on the basis of that excellence, but then fail to have the excellence carry over to the new and different discipline.

None of these people show some kind of original standout excellence in a different field that was lost in their transition to Mozilla leadership roles.


You are introducing a change of “field” where https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle talks only of skills from lower level position being insufficient for competency at higher level. No change of field in the standard definition. I’ve read about, heard, and used the PP for decades without any change of field or tech vs mgmt being required to use the phrase correctly. It may be that higher level management requires training in a different field from lower, but in many firms it does not exclude promotion from below. Some of the best CEOs confound the PP to rise from the ranks.


I think your comment falls into the same trap that Mozillas leadership probably fell into: Middle manager and top management are different, even if they look superficially the same. Not every good team lead or even department lead is a good fit for being part of a companies leadership.


Can give some examples or do you know of any blog posts, books etc that talk about this in more detail?


Just because they might have made excellent middle managers at some point in time does not mean that they would be any good at being executives.


Thanks. Today i learn something new


How much could they have scaled backed their comp to save 70 jobs?


Mozilla has way too many VP and above employees that are useless (check what the once VP engineering, then interim CTO, then fellow is actually doing for instance). They should let go a few, but as far as I know, none has been fired. Gotta keep getting twice the bonus percentage as regular ICs...


You mean ekr yea? I don't know what he's doing either or why he's been promoted along the way. Nobody really knows.


No, not ekr. There's much worse.


Is 70x a strange multiple for an executive to make? I’m sure I’ve heard stories of more.

That said, I doubt the executives at Mozilla make north of 7M


Well a bit further down Mitchell Baker is being skewered for making $2,500,000 annually. I'd assume that the multiplier at Mozilla is much, much lower than 70x.


Mozilla has no equity so they make up for it in cash.. well for executives mainly. This makes for lofty salaries


For a single executive yes. But all of them combined could add up to 70x


Hardly any executive is just getting paid 7m in cash. They are typically paid in financial instruments that are time locked for several years. The media however, will go bananas on reporting about how they are paid crazy amounts when these instruments are finally unlocked, ignoring the tax implications, the lack liquidity and massive risk involved, and also just how much the rest of the market has increased during the time period of those instruments being locked.

When you pay yours executives a modest amount using such a method, it's often very feasible for this to be a massive windfall at the time of maturity (e.g. $1 options becoming $6, etc.).


If they scaled back their own compensation maybe it would be half of seventy? Better than inadvertently laying off someone you need I would imagine...


A fairly large number of managers have been laid off too.


And also a VP


We have many job openings at SpaceX for senior software engineers, please do apply! https://www.spacex.com/careers/list?field_job_category_tid%5...


Just curious, what is the breakdown of "classes" of people layed off.

By which I mean developers vs managers vs other assorted e.g. "tech evangelists" or whatever it's called.


Friendly tip: maybe put your contact info in your HN profile?


Oh, thank you! I added it.


We... like SpiderMonkey very much. Contact in profile ;)


Oh lol, almost forgot about your terminal stack.


> I was working on Cranelift, the WebAssembly compiler that is also a plausible future backend for Rust debug mode.

Just curious, but could Cranelift (or rustc_codegen_cranelift, I'm not sure which would be the closest) also acquire a C-transpiling backend, making it a viable replacement for mrustc? There might be quite a few people willing to fund that sort of work, since it could suffice to bring Rust to a whole lot of platforms that people care about.


Yes, it's plausible that were Rust to adopt Cranelift as a supported backend, you could use Cranelift as an intermediary to translate Rust MIR (via Cranelift CLIF) into C. Outputting functional-but-horrifying C would not be terribly difficult.

The CLIF format is low level but relatively architecture-independent.


Sorry for question, but will you continue work on adopt it to Rust?




LUNA (http://luna-lang.org) - write to us! :)

I'm one of the founders. We are looking for senior compiler engineers (GraalVM) and senior WebGL developers (Rust ) in our team. We are doing a visual programming language for data science and we just got funding of $2.5M. We'd love to chat :)


In case anyone is interested, here is a more formal description of positions we are looking for: https://github.com/luna/hiring


Are you guys moving away from haskell?


Scala apparently


Kraken is hiring Senior SW Engineers with extensive Rust experience for our backend services team. The team is remote. Check out the link below to apply or get in touch at leon at kraken dot com

https://jobs.lever.co/kraken/4c864c8f-bde6-443d-b521-dd90df0...


If you’re interested in non-compiler, HPC Rust work reach out at bernardo at standard dot ai


How many people are left working on Cranelift?


Igalia are hiring for WebKit and related work:

https://www.igalia.com/jobs/


Your experience seems like it would be great for embedded flight software development. Please email tyler.butler at lmco.com if you or others in your situation would be interested in working on NASA's Orion program.


GitHub is hiring, we have quite a few roles posted, and many more opening... https://github.com/about/careers


Your experience may be invaluable to us -- we're building a homomorphic virtual machine for machine learning, all open source and in Rust. Send me an email to pascal.paillier@zama.ai.


That’s terrible, really sorry that happened to you. The good news is that you have an extraordinarily rare and valuable skill set as a compiler eng


sorry this happened to you.


Stupid question, but doesn't Mozilla make around $500MM revenue a year, and have a little over 1000 employees. That seems like it should be profitable.


Your number is high, estimating from user population and search revenue share market rates.


Facebook is definitely looking for folks with compiler experience. Feel free to reach out at dannyz [at] fb


If you're interested in language runtime work (in C++) e-mail arseny at roblox.com


Shot me an email at julien at serpapi.com.


Is Dan still there?


I spoke to Dan to let him know that I'll need to hand off my work, and he didn't mention anything. So I assume he is.

At this point I don't know who was affected.


Well, it's been a truly amazing place to work, and I've enjoyed it so much, right up until being laid off today. Really the smartest and coolest engineers I've ever known and the best community! I have had my hand in shipping every version of Firefox since around version 30 and it's been great. Especially working in such an open environment. Onward to the next adventure.


As someone who jumped from chrome since quantum came out, I can't appreciate Mozilla enough, sadly things are not made to last...

I'm guilty too having used such great tool but haven't directly contributed anything.

But from what I hear, it seem the layoffs are directed not by technical reasons, and amazing people were let go. In this case, I fear for the future of firefox, which are not well protected or funded like the open sourced titan Linux.


Mozilla gets $$$$ from Google, they seem pretty well funded?


Getting funding from your biggest rival isn't exactly the most stable strat long term...

Mismanagement of funds/personnel not withstanding.


to be fair it worked for like 2 decades, it feels long termish. but i don't really disagree.

the current model really is: Google needs Mozilla to survive so that they have less chances to get split due to monopoly in the browser market


actually I'm pretty sure that the money goes to the mozilla innovation fund and not directly to mozilla? not sure how easily they can withdraw money from there.


Sorry to hear you were laid off today.

Good luck with your next adventure and thanks for your work with Firefox!

Yours,

An appreciative Firefox user.


I'm sorry to hear that. Thank you for helping create an amazing browser. Best wishes!


As a long time Firefox user, thank you! If Mozilla fails, the world wide web will be owned by corporations.


Sorry to hear that, but hope you find something you like just as much.


I was at Mozilla for a while and it was a two-class system. The execs flew first class, stayed in fancy hotels, and had very expensive dinners and retreats - sometimes in the high five-figures. This is not even included in comp. One time, the CFO sent out a missive urging everyone to stay in AirBnB to save money and the execs (literally the following week) booked $500/night rooms at a hotel in NYC. I think the moment that made it clear as day was during a trip to Hawaii for the company all hands. The plane was a 737 so you had to walk past first class. These all hands are a huge deal for families - many were struggling down the aisle, carrying booster seats, etc. And they were passing two of the C-levels sitting in giant first-class seats sipping tropical cocktails. The rule in the military is that men eat first, officers last. Mozilla has always reversed that rule and the result was a pretty toxic culture, all around.


"I was at Mozilla for a while and it was a two-class system. The execs flew first class, stayed in fancy hotels, and had very expensive dinners and retreats - sometimes in the high five-figures."

Mozilla was captured by career executives and people with an ageneda - and money for years was not spend on engineering but squandered. I've been using FF since Mosaic days on and off (lately on again as Brave doesn't block more and more ads) and I'm said there is no alternative (FF hangs Twitch for me for which I need to use Chrome, WHY?)

Now they lay of senior engineers.


Two days back I wrote this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22034293

I doubt if this is just with Mozilla. Things like these are come as job perks when you enter management. And this one of the reasons why you must aspire to be a manager and not a programmer on the longer run.

>>The execs flew first class, stayed in fancy hotels, and had very expensive dinners and retreats - sometimes in the high five-figures.

They will always come up with reasons why they need to do this. The most common one is they need to be fresh with brains in clouds so that they can to talk to clients etc well. And they are doing this for the employees good.

“Comrades!' he cried. 'You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.”

- George Orwell.

>>This is not even included in comp.

Things like this generally go in some top level budget and the are approvals are not even audited at item level spending. Like no asks if you had a $100 dinner. It just goes into a group by statement in some dashboard. This is also why so many managers spend lavishly. It's almost anonymous spending. And money once given is never asked back.

If you think this is saying something. Wait till you discover how comp works in those roles. Pretty much anything given is never audited and its given fairly unchecked. Big bonuses and stock grants are just every day activities.

As in Indian who worked in the US for a while, I've even seen Green cards handed to manager's pets like candies. Again no asks questions, no audits done. Its just how awesome managerial jobs are.

>>The rule in the military is that men eat first, officers last.

I doubt if military or any people structure works this way.

Don't fall for these pep talk like speeches.


I used to work at Stanford, once upon a time. Our boss got us training for a week around Hollywood with a Jag as a rental. Our boss'es boss seriously put in to have helicopter rides to work, and they definitely had $100+ per diem and expense accounts. What's interesting is when your boss has self-approval over their own budget and expenses. They're not really big on accountability so much as expanding prestige and pyramids on their sides of the org charts.

Similarly, Big 4 and MBB tend to have healthy expense accounts and fringe benefits.

PS: One of my coworkers kept a counter for all-hands meetings because previous said entitled boss'es boss tended to go full mission statement by overusing a particular "motivational" word during their carefully-choreographed, dog-and-pony PowerPoint. Dilbert and Dogbert would've both doubled hand/pawpalmed.


>>What's interesting is when your boss has self-approval over their own budget and expenses.

As you go up, its hard to say no to your friends. Because you might need a bailout from them someday, so you don't go cheap on them. Some one asks for money they don't say no.

>>They're not really big on accountability so much as expanding prestige and pyramids on their sides of the org charts.

There is also this thing that if you look rich and affluent you tend to command respect. That is from where the "Dress for the job" kind of saying comes from.


Since you said Stanford...I am more or less sure your 'boss' is your advisor or some Professor? Well, in that case, he really doesn't need to show anyone what he is doing with his funds (well not true technically, but its still pretty flexible than any company)


This sounds like you should aspire to overthrow, not become, management.


> As in Indian who worked in the US for a while, I've even seen Green cards handed to manager's pets like candies.

I wasn't aware greencards were something managers could hand out.


Only in the Marines.


Hawaii. Huh. Families haven't been invited to our company Christmas party for the past 7 years.


$500/night for a hotel in NYC sounds relatively cheap. $400 is about the lowest you can find. If you find $350, I would really recommend you not stay there.


I think you're out of touch with pricing or have a very high bar for what you consider acceptable in a hotel. When I was in New York last month I paid $125 for a perfectly pleasant room with good online reviews (in the top 20% or so of NYC hotels on TripAdvisor). It was well located in Manhattan walking distance from most of what I wanted to do and I had no complaints.


Price and value have very little correlation, especially in such a narrow band. Airbnb NYC Manhattan ranges from $35 to $326 with a high confidence interval, peaking at $95. 5 stars with excellent reviews costs from $153 - 295 on Orbitz. In conclusion, you're talking out of your posterior without evidence or experience.


Unless your criteria is 4+ stars in an excellent location, or at at very peak time of year, those prices are completely out of line.


Not sure of Mozilla’s financial or organizational structure but it seems to be part of a larger trend of de-emphasizing QA departments at software shops large and small over the past 10 or so years.

In many ways test automation tooling has become much easier to use, develop, and manage.

But I suspect the larger driving force is that it’s (arguably) a cost center for an org. The burden of ensuring software quality can be shifted to devs and PMs, though usually with mixed results.

For Mozilla, axing quality and security first is a bad look when those are crucial aspects of a privacy-first company value.


It sounds organizational. The one reference to QA is that the leads were let go, which might mean that the teams were re-orged under a product aligned structure.

There is a lot of "shift-left" emphasis out there, but ultimate their is a conflict of interest problem. I think there's no need to go beyond the "we are losing money" explanation and QA is considered more of a cost center.


>The burden of ensuring software quality can be shifted to devs and PMs

Heck, the burden can be shifted to users! But then you might not have so many users in the future. :(


We see this at Raygun with our Crash Reporting and Real User Monitoring products (measuring errors, and end user experience in general). Nearly all power users are more likely to be in product, or very senior/executive developers.

Very low engagement out of QA. I'm not sure if they just have a way they like to work, or they think that if they exist then no bugs make it to prod (don't laugh, plenty of our twitter adverts get comments from folks thinking you don't need any monitoring if you have a tester on the team or if a dev writes unit tests).

Understand how the end user experiences your software. That's the actual source of the truth.


That seems to work for Microsoft so far.


> The burden of ensuring software quality can be shifted to devs and PMs

This in itself is a not a problem, coming from an oncall minded company. You take care of code you write and you're given time budget to KTFLO.


i.e. Netscape.

It was a point of nerd pride on Usenet how well your operating system could handle a Netscape crash back in the day.



I wonder if it's improvements in automation or if QA responsibilities are increasingly rolling up into standard developer roles or because the line between QA and dev is blurring (e.g., software testing now requires stronger dev/automation skills so the QA job looks more like standard software engineering)?


I agree with the concept that it is turning into something else, as I see DevOps/SRE/CI/PM people doing QA work through trying to just make the thing go. It just is leaving a lot of gaps in longevity, complex setup, and building tests either manual or automated to do that better. In the last dozen or so teams I've interfaced with this is just getting worse as I'm seeing lots of situations where things like backup/restore breaks from the last hotfix, upgrade a system a few sequential versions, and only covering X-1/X critical features in ordinary testing. These are things that a traditional QA team would cover after it burns the business/org in one way or another, but since it's not a core focus of some of these people covering parts of the same role it's leaving a lot of not-obvious gaps in a lot of groups.


I don't think automation or shift of testing responsibilities to developers is harming QA role in any way, it's just the first candidate for layoffs, because it does not have immediate impact on business. Independent SQA is still relevant, even it it becomes a developer specialization.


That wouldn't explain the perceived increase in QA layoffs; you would need something else, such as worse economic conditions.


Developers are just turning into glorified hatracks at this point, and the results are discouraging. It's no wonder that people burn out when they are expected to do ever more and more with less.


Obligatory: quality assurance is not testing.

"...de-emphasizing QA departments..."

I feel like we (the industry) have forfeited. I did a stint as a SQA manager. Coming from a dev background, I took it very seriously, totally immersed myself in the domain, transmuted from skeptical to true believer.

I honestly don't know what to make of today's state of affairs.

For example, today's business analysts often do many of the tasks we used to associate with the QA role. Testing, verification, liaison with customers. Did we just rename the role?

Did "Agile" smother QA? Until very recently, I've never heard an Agile explanation for how to do QA/Test. I mean really do it, not just wave your arms. The "Test Into Prod" thesis, strategy, whatever, is the first intellectually honest, actionable, constructive (criticizable) methodology I've seen which is tailored for our new market realties.

I've never understood Agile. My teams were way more "nimble" (to use a different adjective) using PMI, critical path, iterative, lightest weight decision making, front loading work, managing risk, and so forth. All the battle hardened time proven stuff people untrained in project management pejoratively call "waterfall".

One correct criticism of all failing methodologists, including Agile, is lack of feedback loops. The "throwing over the wall" of work downstream. We designed feedback loops into our processes, some of what today would be called CI/CD. We were definitely not waterfall. (Another is managing transaction costs, something Agile has manifestly failed to do.)

Rant over. Sorry. Now get off my lawn.


> For example, today's business analysts often do many of the tasks we used to associate with the QA role. Testing, verification, liaison with customers. Did we just rename the role?

The person asking for a features should absolutely be the one signing off on the feature.


Mozilla uses AFL, which is a genetic algorithm that tests code paths. They are also transitioning to Rust, which will give them a much bigger safety guarantee over most of their code and a much smaller audit surface for the rest.


They're transitioning quite slowly, a sibling comment mentions https://wiki.mozilla.org/Oxidation#Rust_Components this page. Even accounting for how they're obviously prioritizing their efforts to get the best bang for the buck, there will be a lot of critical C/C++ code in Mozilla products for a pretty long time.


American Fuzzy Lop? It's a fuzzer. I've never heard of a fuzzer described as a genetic algorithm that tests code paths, but that is technically correct.

A fuzzer is not going to replace unit tests or good SDLC, which often involves QA.


GA's are a good generative path for fuzzers; at a low level that's exactly what they do.


Mozilla is good at everything except making browsers. rr is the best debugger I've used. I wonder if there's a way for them to monetize Rust. It seems impossible to monetize a programming language without owning a platform e.g. Microsoft (*.NET), Apple (Swift), Borland (Delphi), JetBrains (Kotlin). FirefoxOS for mobile with Rust as the first-class citizen would have been huge for them. Maybe it's not too late. Take note Mozilla.

If there's anything they're going to be in the history books for, it's going to say Rust, not Firefox.


Hi, I'm the architect of rr.

Mozilla is very good at making browsers. Making browsers is incredibly hard and it's amazing that Firefox is competitive with Chrome given a fraction of the development resources Chrome has.

Mozilla has made some big mistakes, but so have the other browser vendors. It's easier to brush over your mistakes when you have an ocean of resources and market power.


Thanks for rr - it's such an amazing tool, and a really impressive engineering accomplishment.


In terms of contributing to declining market share, my personal opinion is that Mozilla's big mistake with Firefox was killing embedding around 2010.


Could be, but it's awfully hard to say. What would have been cut to make room for embedding work, and what would the impact of cutting it have been? Did we know enough at that time to make a good decision about that?

Given that the embedding API would have had to change dramatically due to e10s pretty soon after 2010 (and maybe again due to Fission), I think 2010 was probably a bad time to promote a stable embedding API.

Embedding doesn't rank high on my list of Mozilla's mistakes.


If Mozilla used all its income derived from Firefox on Firefox would it really be that underfunded compared to Chrome?


Absolutely.


Absolutely it would or wouldn't be underfunded?


I assume he meant "absolutely it really would be that underfunded", because that is true.

Elsewhere in these comments people have estimated that Google pays at least 1000 people to work on Chrome. That's about the size of all of Mozilla, and a lot of those Mozilla staff are necessarily not working directly on Firefox --- you need HR, accountants, marketing, etc. Also, Google pays its developers significantly more than Mozilla does, on average; Mozilla developers tend to get big raises when they move to Google.

And that's just direct spending. Historically Google has done a lot of Chrome marketing on its Web sites, which is prime advertising real estate that would cost astronomical amounts of money if it was for sale. And historically Google has paid hardware and software vendors to preinstall Chrome, which is also expensive, though I'm not sure how much that happens these days.


I've not seen any estimates that Google employs 1000 devs to work on Chrome. Only that in the more than decade long history of Chromium 1000 Google devs have worked on it in total.


I don't want to dig through hundreds of comments again --- but as someone who worked on Firefox for 15 years and knows a bunch of Chrome people, I believe those estimates.


Thank you for rr, once again. Great tool. I hope to contribute one day, as soon as I find an itch to scratch.


You're welcome!

One contribution we can always use is people writing and talking about rr. One of the biggest things holding rr back is so many people just don't know it exists (or they know it exists but they don't appreciate what it could do for them).


Mozilla is already in the history books for Firefox, any way you slice it. Firefox has been the only serious refuge from proprietary browsers and their vendors for nearly two decades, and has made history in many ways. It would only be omitted if the book was written by a competitor's PR department.

Quality and popularity are rarely correlated, but such metrics are even further confounded when you have monopolistic factions like Google and MS pumping huge money into user acquisition for their competing platforms. It's ridiculous to imply that Firefox is being rejected by users just because Google has been dumping millions into getting people switched to Chrome (and doing so not only with marketing dollars, but increasingly with bully tactics).


Indeed, and if you count the value of in-kind support for Chrome, such as constant "switch to Chrome" advertising on the most important Web real estate in the world, we're talking billions, not millions.

I would love someone to estimate an actual figure for total Chrome marketing spend including in-kind. I'm guessing it would be well over $10B.


Rust has nothing to do with QA things since most bug are business logic / UI / UX related. QA don't test for those kind of errors.


In my experience, that’s the exact sort of errors that a QA team our position tests for.


Their comment meant that QA don't test for the kinds of errors (safety) rust protects against.


If there's anything they need to axe, it's the Gecko team. Just replace it with V8. The whole layout engine too--replace it with Blink. It is inevitable, so might as well get over with it now and save the wasted human effort and $$$.

I tried to use Firefox recently. It leaked 28 GiB of RAM on x86_64 GNU/Linux with no extensions except uBlock Origin. Happened a few times over the month whenever I visited JS-heavy websites. Never had that happen with Chromium, which runs through megs of JS like butter.

Wouldn't it be nice if an experienced browser dev team maintained a privacy-oriented libre version of Chrome (without manifest v3, sync, and all that trash). Or should they keep doing what they've doing and make the best pro-privacy browser that no one ever uses except indirectly through Tor Browser.


> If there's anything they need to axe, it's the Gecko team. Just replace it with V8. The whole layout engine too--replace it with Blink. It is inevitable, so might as well get over with it now and save the wasted human effort and $$$.

And further contribute to the browser monoculture?

> I tried to use Firefox recently. It leaked 28 GiB of RAM on x86_64 GNU/Linux with no extensions except uBlock Origin. Happened a few times over the month whenever I visited JS-heavy websites.

And you've reported this, I assume?

> Never had that happen with Chromium, which runs through megs of JS like butter.

Really? I explicitly avoid Chrome on my computer because it can't handle the web without chewing through my RAM.

> Wouldn't it be nice if an experienced browser dev team maintained a privacy-oriented libre version of Chrome (without manifest v3, sync, and all that trash). Or should they keep doing what they've doing and make the best pro-privacy browser that no one ever uses except indirectly through Tor Browser.

I would like the experienced Mozilla team to continue to work on their pro-privacy browser than a decent number of people use.


>And you've reported this, I assume?

This is a total non-response. They're not actually under an obligation to report a bug and use their time - Mozilla, however, is obliged to make their browser work properly, and to ensure the team that's working on it is properly staffed/resourced/competent.

Your response is downplaying someone's actual concern by acting like it's wrong that they don't spend their spare time participating in open source software development.

Furthermore, this "browser monoculture" argument is ridiculous. WebKit and Blink are both open source, and Mozilla is increasingly becoming what Opera was back with Presto: a lone engine with quirks that nobody wants to waste their time working around.

If Mozilla gave up Gecko tomorrow and forked WebKit (a la what Blink is) I don't think I'd bat an eye. This is like what junior programmers wind up learning at some point - nobody cares what the code looks like, just that it does what it's expected to.

I say this all as someone who's contributed to some Mozilla repos, has a massive personal investment in Rust (and has read a good chunk of Servo, and liked it), and has been a fan since the Mozilla Suite days.


> Your response is downplaying someone's actual concern by acting like it's wrong that they don't spend their spare time participating in open source software development.

Anything that broken would be fixed, almost instantly, had they reported it. I am not very amenable to people who discuss their very extreme personal anecdotes that they have failed to even put even the basic (some may even say courteous) amount of help and instead talk about their experience like it's typical.

> Furthermore, this "browser monoculture" argument is ridiculous. WebKit and Blink are both open source, and Mozilla is increasingly becoming what Opera was back with Presto: a lone engine with quirks that nobody wants to waste their time working around.

Open source does not ensure that a monoculture will not develop; both WebKit and Blink are financed by billion (trillion?) dollar corporations that have almost complete control over what will or will not be worked on or merged in. Every engine has its own quirks and slant on how it interprets the web standard: if WebKit was the dominant browser today we'd all be even more hesitant to roll out WebM or WebGL 2.

> If Mozilla gave up Gecko tomorrow and forked WebKit (a la what Blink is) I don't think I'd bat an eye. This is like what junior programmers wind up learning at some point - nobody cares what the code looks like, just that it does what it's expected to.

Who exactly are you likening to "junior programmers"?

> I say this all as someone who's contributed to some Mozilla repos, has a massive personal investment in Rust (and has read a good chunk of Servo, and liked it), and has been a fan since the Mozilla Suite days.

And you know my personal history on this pretty well too, but you'll notice I'm advocating for Mozilla in this case.


> WebKit and Blink are both open source

Doesn't mean much since Google controls what features are planned, implemented and included in Chromium.


There already is a browser monoculture. Even Microsoft's default browser is now Chromium with a different logo on it. The way to get diversity in browsers is to have adoption. There are hundreds of alternative browsers out there, but they do not diversify the browser market because they are unusable. You want diversity of browser adoption, not diversity of implementation.

There just aren't enough users out there to stick to a bad browser for religious reasons. It has to actually be better.

The browser market is as free of a market as you can get. Chromium has won. It had an advantage of being written mostly from scratch with lessons from the failures of Firefox and IE. It's basically too late to catch up. While trying to catch up, they will lose what little market share they have left, and the result will be an undisputable browser monoculture. What Mozilla can offer is a different frontend (or "userspace" if you will) to Chromium. That is the realistic approach.

> I would like the experienced Mozilla team to continue to work on their pro-privacy browser than a decent number of people use.

desktop user agents: 8% and dropping, about to be overtaken by Internet Explorer (lmao)

4.9% with mobile included

<1% mobile only

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#Su...


> The browser market is as free of a market as you can get.

Given all the UA-sniffing and purposefully sending broken or degraded sites to various browsers going on nowadays (including on Google properties), no, it's not.


> It had an advantage of being written mostly from scratch with lessons from the failures of Firefox and IE

Chrome's main advantage was/is the limitless ocean of resources of one of the biggest three companies in the world, and incessantly being featured on the front page of the biggest (90%+) search machine in the world.


I'm skeptical of this argument. Advertising companies shill garbage to us all the time. If it were bad, people would have stopped using it. As strong as the Google brand is, I don't think people are using it just because they were told to. Consumers, even the least technical of them, are still savvy enough to notice "slow internet". Their friends tell them to switch to Chrome, then they stop complaining about it, done.

> Chrome's main advantage was/is the limitless ocean of resources of one of the biggest three companies in the world

Yes, this is the reason why it became the best. It had loads of talented developers deployed on it for years and years. You can either complain about it or be happy that it happened and you have access to the fruits of this labor for free.


I guess you liked Internet Explorer best until Microsoft finally abandoned it.


> I tried to use Firefox recently. It leaked 28 GiB of RAM on x86_64 GNU/Linux with no extensions except uBlock Origin. Happened a few times over the month whenever I visited JS-heavy websites.

Of course this is not the experience of the vast majority of Firefox users, so it's pointless to suggest that this means something about Firefox's overall quality. You can easily find people making the same sorts of complaints about Chrome.


Considering he was on Linux, btw, that was probably not a Mozilla build.

Sadly, one of the drawbacks of opensource is that people can take your code and butcher it, and users will blame you.


Firefox gigantic leaks happen to me on Windows too. Depending on the mood, it ends with a crash or with Windows warning me that it will kill some processes if that keeps going on.


Happens on mac, too.

Some mornings I'm beachballing for my whole first coffee. Eventually I just wind up power cycling the mac if I can't open a shell prompt with which to `pkill -9 plugin-container`....


I'm on Mac too and I've never seen anything like this. The odd tab will crash (particularly after I started using containers extensively and more than one adblocker/anti-tracker), but that's it.

> pkill -9 plugin-container

Ahhh, ok - that's not FF, that's a crap plugin (likely Flash). It's the browser equivalent of blaming Windows when a crap taiwanese driver gets it stuck. You could try uninstalling all that crap.


Amazing how it happens neither with Chrome nor Safari. Any idea how they solved that problem?


It could be a genuine leak, but it sounds an awful lot like Firefox using 28 GiB of virtual memory.

Firefox often appears to use large amounts of memory in top / htop, but I believe that's just reported address space allocations. The RES column gives a more accurate depiction of memory usage.


It was real memory. I know the difference. I only noticed because I got an OOM error in my Java program and X11 froze, couldn't use my mouse. This happened multiple times with different heavy duty JS websites, particularly SPAs.


Could you clarify "recently" a bit more? Clearly it's after the release of uBlock Origin, but I'm pretty sure that there was a big effort to clean up memory use a few years ago.

Maybe it's poor Linux support, I have a distressingly high 4 digit number of tabs open on a Windows box and I don't think I've seen it go past 8gb with multiple weeks of runtime.

Edit: Win10 Pro on a Xeon with 48gb ram available


What do you with a 4 digit number of tabs? How can you even find what you are looking for? (Honest question, no attack)

I hardly ever have more than 10 tabs open, and aggressively close everything I am not working with. I also shut down my browser twice a day (2 working locations) and never restore the previous session. I do bookmark some pages, but as a matter of fact I notice that I hardly ever refer to my bookmarks. I don't have the feeling that I am missing out on anything.


What do you with a 4 digit number of tabs?

Fail to go back and clear them out, mostly. Most were left open because of something relevant at the time, so I mostly need to spend a little time going through and nuking or nothing. There's been little friction due to leaving them open so it hasn't been a priority.

Pretty much the same thing that leaves some people with tens of thousands of messages in their inboxes (I deal with someone who does that and it makes my teeth itch, so my inbox isn't so bad).


Right, my private Gmail inbox has more than 70,000 conversations (no clue how many messages). Using search I typically find quickly what I want.

As a programmer who has spent significant time with performance work, having useless tabs in a browser would hurt me. But that Google has to search through a bit longer list of messages I can accept as the typical wastefulness of computing these days. (I am old enough to have done time-sharing on 4 MB with 11 other students on their VT100)


> How can you even find what you are looking for?

Type '%' (no quotes) followed by parts of the URL or title or both in the URL bar. Searches only your open tabs. I can usually find exactly what I want quite quickly.


> I hardly ever have more than 10 tabs open, and aggressively close everything I am not working with.

I must be quite an outlier, because even 10 tabs open at once sounds like a distressingly high number to me.


You might consider usint Zotero as a bookmark manager. It is originally for bibliographies. I don't think I can ever go back.

It has a fantastic FF extension.


Previously, Firefox was fine on computer with 2GB of memory and hundreds of tabs. Now, 8GB is not enough.


Have you checked how Chrome does with 8GB now?

Sadly, the sites out there have changed far more than any of the browsers have, and not for the better. They load a ton of crap that does not contribute to the value delivered to the user, but instead contribute value to the site owner and the dozen layers of intermediaries in between user and site owner.


Recently meaning 1 month ago


If you have a limited number of sites that blow FF memory usage up like that within a limited time (and that you're willing to share in a bug report) then that might be something helpful to report. Failing that, there may be some telemetry available that might be able to identify problem areas, though I'm not sure what details would be.


SpiderMonkey? SM and V8 are javascript engines. Gecko is a browser/layout engine.


Cpu usage of chrome is higher on chrome on mobile. Cpu affects battery life more than memory... so firefox is a good choice on mobile.


Websites are not tested for Firefox for Android.


Indeed. I keep Brave around just to handle the 5% of sites that are decidedly not FF friendly.

FF -- fix text sizing. As an example, old-style Reddit renders wonderfully on Brave and terribly terribly small on FF mobile. Another tester site is BOFH.


This is probably too late for anybody to notice but I got FF memory usage down significantly by:

1) Not using the recommended performance settings. Setting 'Content Process Limit' to 2 removed more than half the memory usage IIRC. There are other settings that you will need to go to about:config to change like what size images are cached to memory etc.

2) Use the 'Auto Tab Discard' extension. You will have to configure this to not discard tabs on certain sites or you may lose info you have typed into a webpage. Fortunately this is easily configured by right clicking a tab.

At the moment Firefox is using 700MB to display 5 tabs. 4 HN and on Reddit tab. Given that these sites are close to just text I find 700MB absurd, but that is just the web these days.


> I tried to use Firefox recently. It leaked 28 GiB of RAM on x86_64 GNU/Linux with no extensions except uBlock Origin. Happened a few times over the month whenever I visited JS-heavy websites.

Not sure what was going on with your experience, but I use Firefox on x86_64 machines with far less than 28 GiB of RAM daily and several extensions (including uBlock Origin), and I've never had anything like that happen. I'm not sure how JS-heavy the sites I visit are though, as I don't have any issues, so I don't really pay attention to that.


Weren't Quantum/Servo/e10 Firefox's saviors?


Strangely after Quantum, Firefox worked worse for me. It is still the case, with Firefox regularly pausing all network activity for a few seconds or even a minute, so I am stuck with websites stuck loading or video stuck loading for a decent amount of time. The UI and everything functions, it is just the network communicating that is stuffed, so anything that requests something has to wait until Firefox's network part decides to respond. I am used to it now, but this happened when Quantum came out and has remained the same for me since.


How, exactly, would you replace Gecko with V8?

One is a layout engine, one is a JavaScript interpreter.


You were probably not using a production-grade Mozilla build, or a recent one. All sorts of shenanigans go on in the Linux world when it comes to builds.


I used the official, automatically-updating build from getfirefox dot com. Package managers are always outdated, which you don't want for browsers (CVE madness).


Brendan Eich tweeted that they laid off about 70 people: https://twitter.com/BrendanEich/status/1217517703914643456

This is about 7% of all their employees.

People report that a lot of QA, security, and release management folks were sacked.

A lot more details in the TechCrunch article: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/15/mozilla-lays-off-70-as-it-...

> In an internal memo, Mozilla chairwoman and interim CEO Mitchell Baker specifically mentions the slow rollout of the organization’s new revenue-generating products as the reason for why it needed to take this decision

edit: fixed the numbers, added some more details.


I'm not sure why they don't largely sack half their marketing budget and concentrate on community outreach from the developer side... that's how they grew in the first place.

I'm also surprised they haven't tried to create commercial mail and communications products. Thunderbird used to be one of the best options out there, and they could easily spin this off into a SaaS and self-host product on the server component. As much as I hated Lotus Notes, something between Lotus Notes, Outlook and MS Teams could be something great and that the Mozilla org would be in a good position to create.

I know they may have good reach with the VPN service as well... I'm unsure how they can reduce security, qa and release management people when orchestration, automation and verification are such huge needs.

They get enough income from search (for now) that they could concentrate on best of breed tech, build mindshare from that, then re-introduce marketing for critical mass.


The world today is different. Can't skimp on marketing any more, as the competition is extremely heavy on marketing.


But this is a game they could never win, if they try to compete against google on marketing.

Where Mozilla could have the upper hand, is the idealistic community. They would do the marketing, if FF would align with their goals ... which seems to be more and more a problem.

I was really alienated when FF tried to sell me advertisement as a feature some time ago. Those moves destroy trust. "Ah, so just another bullshit company. No thanks. Why should I support them?"

But the community and people who actually love open technology, privacy and the internet and don't want to hand it all over to google, facebook and co. are still there.


If you believe that Mozilla has no chance in the marketing game against Google, then maybe this is proof of Google's monopoly position and maybe this will convince you it is time for antitrust action against Google.


I think a lot of us came to that conclusion years ago, and that's why we want to like Firefox. Unfortunately I have not yet ascended to my rightful throne as emperor of earth, so I cannot simply snap my fingers and command the dismantling of Google.

If Mozilla were throwing resources at a legal battle against Google, I'd be skeptical but interested. But marketing? I've never seen a paid advertisement for Firefox. Where the hell is that money even going? They should have purged their entire marketing staff after that "Mr Robot" advertisement debacle, but instead there was little other than half-hearted apologies.


Mozilla's competition is default apps and chrome which I've only seen advertise on google and youtube, on the random day I use a computer without an ad blocker. Not like Safari is putting out any ads, or that Edge has any fans outside of geriatrics who don't know any better.

The competition (chrome) is just enjoying the runaway success of being the household name for over 10 years, simply by being a better product than firefox was 10 years ago when the market shares were much closer.

If firefox wants to enjoy this runaway success that chrome has, mozilla should steal the playbook of being the contrarian option for tech minded people just like how chrome was the foil to IE and Safari a decade ago before it became the dominant web browser. The focus should therefore be on dev tooling, not marketing, and the rest of the user base will follow the devs.


Firefox got where it was by being faster and less bloated than the current alternatives at the time. Then it lost its way completely and Chrome was that and took all the market share. There’s a theme here. People like fast browsers that just work and don’t do a lot of extra crap. If Firefox ever wants to take market share this is a great time to do that with how bloated Chrome is becoming and how much privacy it constantly encroaches on. If Mozilla is smart it will figure this out and go for the kill. Is Mozilla smart? I keep trying to use Firefox and every time I go back to Chrome (or Brave or Safari on my phone) because Firefox is too slow, it changes radically every version, and things just don’t work right in it that do work on other browsers. I don’t need marketing, I just need them to make the browser better. I’m the target audience; I want to switch!


I started using chrome originally 10ish years ago because the company tech person said it was good and fast (I was not in tech at the time). I think you’re right.

(I use Firefox now)


I don't think I have seen any marketing material from Mozilla. I have seen some Chrome marketing though.


They pour a ton of money into events like SXSW. They had huge displays of their new branding up and down Congress Ave a couple of years ago, with several other "brand awareness" things going on throughout the conference.


I don't want to second-guess the marketing team, as I clearly don't know all of the things I'd need to know to do that.

But let me second-guess the marketing team: wouldn't all that money be better spent marketing to potential customers rather than things like SXSW?


Actually, given the current demographics of SXSW, that probably IS good marketing to potential customers. SXSW now costs quite a bit and is often a hipster corporate management perk. That sounds like a good demographic for Mozilla to market to.

Lone gone are the days where SXSW was a bunch of grubby hippies listening to a bunch of crappy bands. Now it's a bunch of hipster drones listening to a bunch of crappy mainstream pop artists.


> That sounds like a good demographic for Mozilla to market to.

Why does that sound like a good demographic? Sure, cover that group, but not at the expense of the much, much larger demographic of "ordinary people".


That demographic can cut you checks with 7 digits or more.

"Ordinary people" earn you nothing unless you vacuum up their personal information.


Firefox users don't cut checks, though. What Firefox needs is a much larger number of users. How wealthy they are isn't terribly relevant.


I've seen firefox ads in the subway in Paris. Mozilla is absolutely paying big bucks for marketing.


Is it though? Tesla is very light on traditional marketing, while its competitors are spending heavily.

Nothing changed. People are the same.


Tesla has Musk who has become extremely popular, he's probably better than whole marketing department with good funding.


Tesla also has a product that basically sells itself


This is usually what people do say of successful marketing campaigns. Note, that Musk is a walking ad.


I see a big gap in the market when it comes to self-hosted Office 365 or G Suite alternatives. Microsoft Exchange is a beast both in terms of complexity as well as licensing cost, and I think most small/medium orgs don't actually need the complexity which is why they're going towards G Suite which is a less complex product to manage.

I can see them succeeding with an open-core enterprise e-mail & calendar solution where the base features are free to use and an enterprise version with extra features, like the Gitlab model with self-hosting as the key selling point.


If this was easy to do, Office 365 and GSuite wouldn't have a lock on the market.

IBM can't even be bothered to try anymore - they sold off the carcass of Lotus a while back.


Which is partly why Mozilla is in a better position than most, being mainly tech and open-source at their heart. They are making enough off of search that they could create a product then sell/saas it themselves.


> I'm not sure why they don't largely sack half their marketing budget and concentrate on community outreach from the developer side... that's how they grew in the first place.

Which worked because IE 6 was a dumpster fire for both users and developers. Developers were looking for any excuse to jump ship off it.

The browser market in 2020 is 'good enough' for users and developers. It's like gasoline - nobody cares which refinery the gas in their tank comes from.


> The browser market in 2020 is 'good enough' for users and developers

Sadly, I agree.

I find it sad because I haven't personally found any modern browser that I'm happy using.


Totally, I'd be a lot happier if they cut efforts on the branding side of things and strengthen the technical one.


I kinda disagree, as a huge Mozilla fan. I think their technical development is fine, if not fantastic (especially for all they're doing with WebRender/Servo).

Personally I'd like to see them roll out paid privacy products. Like Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1. I currently pay for that, and if Mozilla rolled out a similar service across the Firefox ecosystem I'd gladly pay for that too.


I'm not saying their development isn't fine, but they're laying off the people that support development... which will make it worse, when they're spending far in excess of that cost in marketing and imho not even getting the best value out of that space.


Marketers are usually pretty good at selling themselves.


> I'm not sure why they don't (...) concentrate on community outreach from the developer side.

Unless e.g. Lin Clark was among those who were laid off, they've been doing some excellent developer-side community outreach through the Mozilla Hacks blog in the past couple of years.


It's hard to say one way or another without the data. How big is the marketing team and budget/headcount/overhead? What's their ARR? How many QA people were laid off and at what salary ranges? How big was QA compared to other departments?


I seem to recall some article about their expenses a couple years ago, and that their marketing department and budget exceeded development and infrastructure combined.


I'm surprised they're laying off security and QA, considering how focused on privacy and security their marketing campaign seems to be. In the last 6 months, I think 90% of cases where I saw Mozilla mentioned were about how it's the 'hot new browser' for the privacy-concerned. Although, perhaps, that's more to do with a good marketing team and less with a sprawling security department? Would love to see some expert opinion on what this means for the company's current trajectory.


Unless they really were redundant, firing QA/Security/Release engineers strikes me as an act of desperation. Cutting back on those disciplines will really jack up the interest rate on your tech debt.


Perhaps Rust is delivering better than expected results.


Only a tiny part of Firefox is in Rust now.

See https://wiki.mozilla.org/Oxidation#Rust_Components .


Also, Rust code can have security bugs. Memory safety bugs are not the only kind of bugs.


Rust code integrated into a C/C++ codebase can have memory safety bugs too unfortunately.


Do Mozilla execs understand this?


From the 2018 State of Mozilla annual report: With over 1,000 full-time employees worldwide https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/annualreport/2018/


I don't know why, but for some reason, I was thinking there were about 600 of them. Thanks for the link, I've edited my comment.


It was Microsoft (or other company I don't recall) that every 5 years would lay off 5% of its work force (the least capable or productive people) - this would cause those that remain to work harder next year. Then, they would open positions. Rinse and repeat.


Microsoft used to do stack ranking which puts everyone on a curve and ranks them against each other but they got rid of it when the regime at the top changed.

This sort of ruthless management is a way to destabilise the workforce and disrupt the team. What I've often found is management might cull the worst performing people but the best people follow them voluntarily because of the toxic culture, and then there's the fact that the worst performing person in the best performing team might be better than the best performing person in the worst performing team.


I think they don't do that any more. For one thing, it was too easy to game the system by hiring lousy people as targets for the next year's firings. And if a group was all good people... you ended up firing someone anyway.


General Electric was famous for doing this is the problem is you cant keep doing it every year.

Also people just game the system and only do what will get them a good review.

I know some on at a big UK company who was bucking for a promotion and they blew through 1 Mill and 15 Man years for no good reason.


> Also people just game the system and only do what will get them a good review.

Wouldn't doing a good job earn a good review? This reminds me of the xkcd comic about the bots starting to have constructive messages to avoid spam filters. Mission fucking accomplished.


You get what you measure, for better or for worse.

But what tends to happen with stack ranking is that people only do what their direct manager values and rewards in the short term, and avoid other work that really needs to be done, or what the actual customer wants. Your boss becomes your only customer. You invent redundant new shit because that's more impressive than fixing your existing shit that's broken. This can be incredibly damaging to the quality of the product, and also to the careers of anyone the boss just doesn't personally like for whatever reason. It creates a monoculture of like-minded, demographically similar people who suck up and shit down.

You even can see pathological behaviors like managers purposefully recruiting low performers as sacrificial lambs to offer up at the next review time.

Companies got rid of the rank-and-yank system in the last decade or so for a very good reason.


> Wouldn't doing a good job earn a good review?

Nope, because incentives are not aligned to that extent. The whole point of a company is that it's not a pure market where incentives are everything by definition; it's a rather more complex organization and these often rely on "soft" constraints as better sources of drive, guidance, cooperation/coordination etc. If you're relying on "hard" incentives (like firing the 'worst' 5% no matter what) you'll invariably distort behaviors in ways that are hard to even predict, and are almost never what you really want.


I thought this was an interesting take on the review process from an xoogler:

https://mtlynch.io/why-i-quit-google/


> Wouldn't doing a good job earn a good review?

If only life were that simple.


it also makes for a miserable work environment



See: stack ranking


Note, the fatal mistake in Microsoft’s case was not laying off the bottom 5%, it was laying off the bottom ranked people WITHIN small groups, even if said groups were doing very well.

If you’re going to lay off the bottom x% every n period of time, it might be fine. But you’d better be damn sure your metrics are good (sales comes to mind though even then there’s a lot of ambiguity). If you’re dropping the weakest performer in groups you’re not only going to create the most toxic environment ever, you’re going to lay off plenty who are probably middle of the bell curve.

Microsoft’s plan was, in addition to being unwise, just poorly reasoned statistically.


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