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Mozilla lays off 250 employees while it refocuses on commercial products (blog.mozilla.org)
1602 points by rebelwebmaster 47 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1456 comments



There have been multiple submissions. I guess this one wins because it's the original source and was posted first. But since corporate press releases leave much to be desired (https://hn.algolia.com/?query=corporate%20press%20release%20...), I've pilfered the title from https://www.zdnet.com/article/mozilla-lays-off-250-employees... via https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24121166.

Please note that this thread has multiple pages of comments. You can get to the later pages via the More link at the bottom, or like this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24120336&p=2

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24120336&p=3


[I am a Mozilla employee, and yes, I do recognize how my position influences my perspective.]

One thing that always frustrates me a bit whenever Mozilla comes up on HN or elsewhere is that we are always held to impossibly high standards. Yes, as a non-profit, we should be held to higher standards, but not impossible standards.

OTOH, sometimes it just seems unreasonable and absurd. Stuff like, to paraphrase, "Look at the corporate doublespeak in that press release. Fuck Mozilla, I'm switching to Chrome."

Really? That's what's got you bent out of shape?

Sure, Mozilla has made mistakes. Did we apologize? Did we learn anything? Did we work to prevent it happening again?

People want to continue flogging us for these things while giving other companies (who have made their own mistakes, often much more consequential than ours, would never be as open about it, and often learn nothing) a relatively free pass.

I'm certainly not the first person on the planet whose employer has been on the receiving end of vitriol. And if Mozilla doesn't make it through this next phase, I can always find another job. But what concerns me about this is that Mozilla is such an important voice in shaping the future of the internet. To see it wither away because of people angry with what are, in the grand scheme of things, minor mistakes, is a shame.

EDIT: And lest you think I am embellishing about trivial complaints, there was a rant last week on r/Firefox that Mozilla was allegedly conspiring to hide Gecko's source code because we self-host our primary repo and bug tracking instead of using GitHub, despite the fact that the Mozilla project predates GitHub by a decade.


I certainly don't think the corporate doublespeak is reason to switch to Chrome, but I do think the corporate doublespeak in this announcement is just awful.

When you're doing a layoff, just announce the layoff, show compassion to the affected employees, and if you want to announce other changes, do it in a separate announcement. Putting stuff about the fight against systemic racism in the opening paragraph of a layoff announcement is just inviting a tidal wave of eye rolls.


I have to respectfully disagree. It is common for leaders to re-state their entity's reason for being as they bring bad news. See Churchill's speeches during the battle of France, for instance.

I think this opening was well-written and clearly communicated Mozilla's purpose. You can blame it for being populist, but don't hate the player, hate the game.


This lay-off is not because of Covid or racism. It is because of the overwhelmingly awful executive leadership at Mozilla.

Watching Mozilla leadership drive Mozilla into the ground over the last 8-10 years has been like watching a bus accident in slow motion. FirefoxOS anyone?

The only benefit Mozilla now provides is a warning to companies that place how liked and popular employees are over how skilled and hard working they are.

Mozilla has collected such a large group of well behaved and well liked underperformers to an absurd level like no other company in history. This is no more obvious than the woefully under-qualified and perennially under-performing leadership.

Someone please explain to me how Mitchell Baker continues to have a job? How is Mozilla still paying this person millions, yes millions, of dollars?

Pocket?! You are going to save Mozilla with a glorified bookmarking app?

What a sad waste.


> This lay-off is not because of Covid or racism. It is because of the overwhelmingly awful executive leadership at Mozilla.

Yeah! They are cutting out key technical employees while not cutting top-level exec salaries.

https://twitter.com/lizardlucas42/status/1293232090985705478


The current CEO of Mozilla Corporation and Chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation (the parent organization of Mozilla Corporation) earned a total compensation of $2,458,350 [1] on a $436 million company revenue on 2018, or half a percent of the company's revenue. I can't find 2019 stats, but on a company that's not doing well, CEO's comp seems high.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Baker#cite_note-14


I can't think of a good reason why Mitchell Baker should keep her job. I'm fine with competitive executive compensation, but what has she done other than lay off the people doing the work?


How else do you justify their salary. Increasing revenue? please.


> Increasing revenue?

Yes. Mozilla Corporation, The wholly owned subsidiary of Non-profit Mozilla Foundation, is a for-profit organization and taxable entity. [1]

For any for-profit organization, increasing profit is one of the major responsibility of the CEO.

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


I think the parent means that she failed at this. At the very least, her salary went up while Firefox market share went down.


No I meant that I order to justify her salary she needs to either increase profits or reduce costs. Looks like she went with reducing costs ...


I have no idea what normal CEO salaries look like as a percentage of revenue. I'm not even sure if that's the right way to measure it. But it doesn't sound crazy high to me?

And the worse your company is doing, the more important it is to find a good CEO and the harder it will be for you to attract a good one. So you can even make an argument for why CEOs that joined companies that are doing badly might be getting paid more on average.


I wondered how much it was, and did a quick search. Apparently Sundar Pichai (Alphabet) had a total comp equivalent to ~0.13% of the revenue, and Tim Cook (Apple) was at 0.05%. So Mozilla's CEO is at 3 to 10 times more than those two examples, while arguably underperforming them.


I really don't think it's that simple. Why should CEO salary depend on revenue? Should the CEO of a startup that doesn't have customers yet make $0?


Mozilla, Google and Apple are no startups.

Of course startups CEO will have different goals - company at different stages of their growth will have very different goals and tangentially they need different CEOs with different skill sets to achieve those different goals.


Fire her and hire a new CEO then. Why would you raise an under-performing CEO's takeaway ?


How do you know she is under-performing? It's not like Mozilla was profitable before she joined.


I never really understand why people ask for things like this. Presumably Mozilla is paying these salaries because that's what they need to pay to hire good people at that level. Why would those people stay at Mozilla if they suddenly had their salary cut? They are probably already making less than they could make in a comparable position elsewhere.


Because people feel like C-level compensation is way too high, and people feel this is disconnected from actual performance. C-level compensation has risen way, way faster in the last decades than general employee compensation [1].

It doesn't change because upper management is all in the "cult", and there's no incentive to lower salaries. If all programmers (or any other profession) were in charge of their own salaries, I'd suspect something similar happening with people rewarding each other more and more compensation while pointing at other companies to justify it.

[1] https://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-compensation-2018/


I can see how one can argue that C-level compensation is too high (although there are also good arguments against that) but surely you can't expect Mozilla to solve this problem by themselves? If Mozilla cuts C-level salaries while the rest of the industry doesn't then why would any of them keep working for Mozilla?


This is a crap argument. Every company/NGO can use that and it doesn't solve the problem. Mozilla as a self-proclaimed altruistic ideologically-driven org should lead by example.

If the current CEO, whom from the outside is not doing a great job, is not willing to. You find a different CEO. I am not convinced that no one wants to do the job for $500k instead of $2.5m. Whether that person would be good/bad/worse is pure speculation, but it's not like organizations are taking the chance.


"Whether that person would be good/bad/worse is pure speculation"

they'd probably have to have at least a negative $2m impact before it mattered right?

revenue on its own may not even be the best measure, if the revenue comes via methods that conflict with the larger ideology. I don't know if Mozilla has that conflict with itself or not.

Your point is accurate though, and I've held the same views for a while now. This sort of thinking would seem to dictate that the next Mozilla CEO will need to come in at around $2.5m - that's been defined as the floor now. Regardless of how well that person executes, they've got that base. And... you can't really judge them after 3 months. You'd need to give them a year to make a 'real' assessment... and you've just spent that money on someone, regardless of outcome.


In comparison, how much are eff paying Cindy Cohn to be CEO?


If I read the 990 right, 257500. This is 2x the lowest officer salary and 30% higher than the second-highest. By comparison Mitchell is 8x the second-highest officer and 17x the lowest. There may be more comparable salaries at MoCo, but those are not on the 990s.


An NGO has execs with salaries >1M???

How is that still an NGO?


If you aren’t being sarcastic ... go research NGOs.



NGO or non-profit doesn't mean they took a vow of poverty. It means the corporation does not distribute profits to shareholders (and may be exempt of some income taxes). It still can be loaded with money, and many NGOs are.


> Watching Mozilla leadership drive Mozilla into the ground over the last 8-10 years has been like watching a bus accident in slow motion. FirefoxOS anyone?

FirefoxOS gets a lot of hate, but I honestly thought it was a pretty good idea. The problem was that it was terribly executed.

It’s a bit unclear to me wether that was your point or not.


Obviously the idea of Firefox OS is great. It's successor KaiOS (fork of Firefox OS) is the third most popular mobile OS with hundreds of millions of users.

I think what OP was saying is that Mozilla is so poorly managed that they took a great idea and made it crash and burn.


Even Microsoft - with countless more resources and motivation - failed to make traction in mobile. Blackberry was swept off the stage in the blink of an eye.

Firefox OS was abandoned pretty quick as I remember, 2 years tops?

I would not single that out as a failing.


> Even Microsoft - with countless more resources and motivation - failed to make traction in mobile.

Microsoft made a new OS where they needed developers to target their platform. Too few did, and the platform failed.

Mozilla tried to bypass this chicken-and-the-egg problem by being able to leverage PWAs which “everyone” is making anyway these days. It wasn’t a too crazy bet that it might have worked.

In a similar vein the Pinephone is trying something similar these days: not asking developers to target it, but instead leverage existing app eco-systems (Linux and web).

I don't expect a runaway mainstream success here, but I do wish them luck.


It might have had some neat technical designs, but it is not a good idea to try and launch an OS into a maturing market, which the smartphone market clearly was by 2013.

It never works.


It worked in India - it was a success. And it was a shock when Mozilla just gave it up. Giving up on an install base of hundreds of millions just when it was taking off...the US is not the only market you know ?

Sometimes you need to plough your way through the field to get the bountiful harvest - Mozilla did that and then left the harvest to burn.


Firefox made the right call, they were never going to succeed against Android. Looking at statcounter, Kai has not been able to resist it either, dropping from somewhere over 4% to under 1%, while Android sits at over 95%.


Could they make any money off it though?


They could have - they gave up just as it was gaining traction. Now, Reliance Jio earns all the money from it...


The FirefoxOS fork KaiOS is now installed on 100M+ devices worldwide - mostly as cheap devices below full smartphones.


1.3 billion Android devices sold last year worldwide.


So, "significant market share in some markets" for KaiOS, given it has 10% the global numbers and is basically not present in EU and US?

A thing can be good and successful without being the global leader, unless you want monopolies for everything.


FirefoxOS was a good idea: a portable phone system that could run on cheaper hardware than Android could, built with web technologies instead of Java.

Then hardware manufacturers started producing cheap hardware that could run Android with acceptable performance, thus eliminating the price advantage for FirefoxOS, before that OS could take off in third world nations.


Well ChromeOS was successful so you could see Firefox OS as an alternative in the market. They both came out at the same time. There were of course 6 different table/mobile OSes at the time. Maybe it was a difference in execution. Or maybe resources.


So, I don't really know the context of the stuff you're writing about, if you would please indulge me...

> Watching Mozilla leadership drive Mozilla into the ground over the last 8-10 years has been like watching a bus accident in slow motion.

I honestly am not aware much of that.

> FirefoxOS anyone?

I can't tell if you're unhappy they started that project or unhappy they stopped it. I'm guessing you're unhappy, so I'm going to go along with the guys that were involved on that project for the rest of your post.

I am curious though, since you seem to know so much about Mozilla driving itself into the ground, do you know the resources that were spent on FirefoxOS?

> The only benefit Mozilla now provides is a warning to companies that place how liked and popular employees are over how skilled and hard working they are.

I know that Andreas Gal was disliked, but how was he unskilled and what did his position have to do with the nature you're speaking of?

> Mozilla has collected such a large group of well behaved and well liked underperformers to an absurd level like no other company in history. This is no more obvious than the woefully under-qualified and perennially under-performing leadership.

How did you asses that Andreas Gal was under qualified and under performing?

> Someone please explain to me how Mitchell Baker continues to have a job?

Mitchell Baker is one of the oldest closely related employees to Netscape, Mozilla etc. She is very much the original culture of company. Her particular focus is the overall business aspect of operating the organisation rather than the technical. The technical work would have been people like Andreas Gal.

> How is Mozilla still paying this person millions, yes millions, of dollars?

That's not her sallary, that comes from compensation. Compensation is based on looking at what other similarly sized companies, usually in the same sector are paying based on similarly skilled people. Companies do not want to lose their CEOs etc. What might suprise you is that she's being paid at the lower end of the scale, and this is because she's a CEO sourced internally.

If Mozilla were to replace her with an external CEO, they would likely end up needing to pay vastly more. The compenstion paid is usually pegged to performance. While the company might have not done well as a whole, there are likely things this person has navgiated the company through that you did not see? But, if you did, please share.

> Pocket?! You are going to save Mozilla with a glorified bookmarking app?

Mozilla is following a common technique to help bring stability to the company when one or more revenue stream starts struggling or drying up -- It is diversifying income. Mozilla appears to be a very R&D sort of company, so they seem to be doing what you see companies like Microsoft Garage or Alphabet do and try to create their own 'start ups' without the company bit to try to innovate new products. Hence where FirefoxOS came from.

Many people originally scoffed at the idea of Apple doing a phone.


Honestly, and I mean this with full sincerity, your response is exactly the point.

You just don’t seem to get the obviousness in front of you, just like almost all of Mozilla while the rest of the world sees how absurd and sad things are.

Mozilla has zero chance of survival at its current size without the browser tech. Instead of working on creative ways to monetize that, back when Firefox still had enough market share for it to matter, precious time was wasted on a wide variety of valueless diversions.

Mozilla without Firefox is dead. Pocket or a VPN service has zero chance of bringing in similar revenue. Zero. It was and is a giant waste of time.

And so here we are. Years wasted on what could have been real honest and creative attempts at monetization from competent leadership. They had 10 years to figure it out. Instead they played with whatever new shiny toy fell in front of them.

It would be a hilarious joke if it wasn’t so sad.


> You just don’t seem to get the obviousness in front of you, just like almost all of Mozilla while the rest of the world sees how absurd and sad things are.

I don't know, I feel like I have more context you do right now. But maybe that is just experience from working in organisations like this.

> Mozilla has zero chance of survival at its current size without the browser tech. Instead of working on creative ways to monetize that, back when Firefox still had enough market share for it to matter, precious time was wasted on a wide variety of valueless diversions.

That's not really true though, is it? FirefoxOS derivatives took off significantly and did very well, but, unfortunately, it turned out listening to the public saying to cut it was an awful idea.

> Pocket or a VPN service has zero chance of bringing in similar revenue.

It's not about bringing in similar revenue on a single project, it's about having many different income generators though.

> It was and is a giant waste of time

Did you actually check the development effort involved? They didn't have to spend much on resources to do so, to do these alternate revenue streams, the organisation spent relatively little rather than putting all their money behind a big project and then if it doesn't work out, collapsing -- which is likely to occur trying to pursue large projects like you're suggesting?


Why was Andreas Gal disliked?


Not entirely certain on the reasons why the general public didn't like him, but, I suspect the real reason was because he was leading the FirefoxOS project.


I think they could have learned something from wartime speeches here in terms of reading their audience. People who care about Mozilla as an entity are sophisticated readers.

They could have said pretty much the same thing, but with a nod to the fact that it is hard to believe the corporate version. E.g. "Mozilla has laid off 250 employees today. Why? Well here are our reasons, let's start at the beginning...".

And then I'd be more interested to read.

I would love to know why - short on cash? Google's teet running dry? Or do they believe fewer people = more agility? or maybe the roles really were redundant.


The audience is her employers.


The opening, coming from a super well paid CEO, pissed me off. I need a good browser, maybe with accompaigned products but no save the internet, racism, bl, etc. Most likely won't ever support Mozilla with such language.


I think this is a valid point. Donors don't want to give money to further enrich Mozilla's overpaid leadership, and they don't want to give money to then be split between the cause they're really donating for (generally Firefox) and various tangentially related political causes.

There's no way to donate directly to Firefox development.


> There's no way to donate directly to Firefox development.

There is. It is called "restricted funds":

https://www.501c3.org/kb/what-are-restricted-funds/

The more people use restricted funds designation, the less bloated non-profits with wishy-washy missions there would be and the less money there would be to pilfer by the parasite class that lives in the executive roles of the non-profits.


The mechanism may exist, but can you describe how to actually pull this off, including how the money would get sent from Mofo to Moco?

If so, there's a lot of people who would like to do this, I believe.


Donate via check.

Write "Restricted funds - see attachment" on a check. On the attachment list check details and a restriction such as "Direct expenses for <blahblahblah> only." If you just do not want it to go to G&A fluff fund the execs use to live a large life, just exclude G&A: "<blah blah blah> purposes only. No G&A"

Regulations for non-profits aren't a joke. If they took your restricted funds, you bet they are going to follow the restrictions.

Non-profits may hate it but at the end it is money. So they take it. If they decline to cash the check, no skin off your back.

Source: lived in a non-profit land as a tech consultant. Heard constant bitching about big donors being smart and always restricting funds above a few hundred dollars. Execs of every non-profit that pretends it cannot deal with restrictions are taking the donor for suckers and are fleecing them.


Okay, but how does that money get from MoFo to MoCo?

If MoFo made Firefox, this would make sense. But they don’t.


> Okay, but how does that money get from MoFo to MoCo?

It is their problem, not my. They want money. It is restricted. Money is fungible. If they figure out how to use the money that is restricted then they need to spend less unrestricted money.


Okay, so, this is not actually practically possible today.

Thanks for elaborating though! I didn't know about this feature of donations.


"G&A"?


General and Administrative. For example, a catered lunch from a fancy restaurant that will have friends of the execs attend as a part of some presentation would be charged into G&A line.


Interesting, thanks. Do Mozilla really accept restricted funds donations toward Firefox development? What are the steps to make such a donation?

Here's a related discussion on exactly this topic, from 11 months ago. I see that it was you who mentioned restricted funds in that thread, too. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20874641


Donors don't fund Firefox. Search engine revenue does. Every scrap of evidence suggests that donations will absolutely not fund work at the scale of Firefox. If they did our overall open source infrastructure would be in much better shape.


Exactly. I care about Firefox and Thunderbird, not about Mozilla. If another company forks the projects and delivers a better program I'll be as happy as if Mozilla keeps doing it.

Supporting and directing Internet standards, resisting Google, etc, are a byproduct of developing an independent browser.


Agreed i was pissed off when they started injecting politics into my browser recently.


Did you police yourself? It seems you replaced a word you intended with the word “politics” to be PC.

Mozilla has always been political. It was born so. Why do you think Jamie Zawinski got Shepard Fairey to design its logo? The Mozilla manifesto is full of political statements. Do you remember the fight against DRM? Net neutrality? SOPA?

Often, people that speak like you mean “speech favoring equal treatment” instead of “politics”.

https://www.jwz.org/blog/2016/10/they-live-and-the-secret-hi...


They used to care about freedom, now they care about a bunch of vaguely defined stuff aligned with (some of) US left. Being from outside the US, to me this change and the speed of it seems extremely jarring. I mean just look at their messaging in new tabs -- do I really need my browser telling me that "It's okay to like Facebook" or that "Tech (people? companies? projects?) has a responsibity to [...]" ? Thanks, Mozilla, I guess I wouldn't have used it if not for your permission (/s). Does anyone even read these fucking things before they push them out?


There's a difference between politics to improve Internet-related things (like fighting DRM, SOPA, or promoting net neutrality) and other political issues that while important are completely irrelevant to a browser development company.


I'd like to add that Mozilla has relatively limited resources and it's more worthwhile for them to focus on issues that are directly related to what they do (the web) instead of unrelated social issues.

Furthermore Mozilla has the expertise, connections and brand when it comes to the web they can use as leverage to solve web-related social/political issues, but might not have much leverage for unrelated issues so the risk/reward ratio will not be in their favor.


Exactly. Everything in the world is political: Firefox was a political statement from its outset, Mozilla is a political entity, and also - and I've yet to see an argument from anyone against this notion - Mozilla is overwhelmingly a force for good in the world. Lots of people on HN really struggle to accept this, because it goes against their own (libertarian right or anarcho-capitalist) political perspective.


People complaining about "politics" are often complaining about political scope creep.

If I keep that in mind while listening/reading people complaining about "politics" it is often the smallest change to their stated message that would make it clear and internally consistent. So I ask clarifying questions to see if their complaint is poorly articulated rather than picking at their words to defend the thing they're criticizing.


By politics do you mean things irrelevant to browsing experience or things you disagree with?


> I think this opening was well-written and clearly communicated Mozilla's purpose.

I didn’t think it was well written at all. The sheer number of words is a red flag. There are five focus areas that are all extremely vague. Good writing is clear and concise.


What if we all liked this player for not playing the game?


I would say that's the sort of impossible standard the OP was probably referring to.


The tech sector should not be politicized, IMO. It's the one bastion we've had from all the nonsense.


The tech sector has almost never not been politicized, damn, are kids these days forgetting how much open source was fought for and defended?


Open Source is not influenced by political factors. Influencing factors are almost entirely economical, with the exception being decisions by lawmakers.

I'd rather they kept politics and so-called fights against racism out of Software, because they were never problematic there to begin with.

The terms master and slave for example are only in bad taste because people make them to be.


To channel RMS: The political concern there is Free Software. Open Source isn't a political movement, it's an approach to software development that has similar ideas on software licensing.


I remember that they fought for freedoms, not for corporate compliance.


Not forgetting, they weren't there yet


Neither was I. I remember. Youth is no excuse to be ignorant of recent history.


Everything is political.

Silicon Valley is polluted, all your hardware is made in China, algorithms shape what we see.


That hardly a reason to sink deeper.


I agree. They are exterior problems and have nothing to do with open-source in itself.


You'd think China would be all about open source, what with the communism.


Consider that it might have always been politized, but the previous status quo might have been more convenient/pleasant to you (i.e. made it easier for you to ignore problems which affect others).


I think this sentiment is a few years too late.


I agree that the criticism is disproportionate, especially after all Mozilla has done for the net. I am disappointed what issues take up a priority today. I primarily think of focusing on community as policing speech in repositories and terminology, brave new world style. I don't think the old leadership failed, I think the new one is just very quick with results. Mozilla was beloved because they had a different image. I am in a position where I dislike their advocacy, because it just doesn't resonate with me for improving anything, on the contrary. I don't judge them for trying to monetize some of their services, but I also see it as a result of expanding aimlessly.

And they want to offer me leadership? For what? Seriously considering if Mozilla still has a place on the donation list.

This blog post is pretty bad. Doesn't mean I just drop my support, but I don't see how you cannot be disappointed here or who feels like this is a road to improvement.


"But we know we also need to go beyond the browser to give people new products and technologies that both excite them and represent their interests"

I was a loyal Firefox user and can't even remember why I switched to Chrome. Sometimes shit happens. Kohler can be all ecited about making the next great toilet bowl. Just don't expect me to get excited every morning to go take a poop on that bowl. It's an impossibly high standard!


> I think this opening was well-written and clearly communicated Mozilla's purpose

If the purpose of Mozilla is to fight systematic racism, then I'm sorry building a web browser and running a VPN is a terrible way to go about it and the leadership team should be removed.


Yeah, somehow I thought their mission was to build the best web browser, silly me!


It wouldn’t have happened if you read their mission...

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/mission/


Agreed. Think of the countless companies, arguably most, that will never publicly acknowledge their layoffs.

"Corporate double-speak" is still far better than not saying anything and/or hoping that nothing leaks.

Public acknowledgement in difficult times is near impossible for most companies, especially those that are private, to accomplish.


It was also common for leaders to own slaves. What is common does != what is right, meaningful, or that it should be used as a guide.


Bit of hyperbole there. This is a press release that their PR head pumped out in 5 minutes, using whatever techniques they teach PR heads at communications schools. Insert any company that can lay off 250 employees and keep ticking, and you will probably get about the same exact document from a similarly schooled PR head.


Agreed on hyperbole and I could have used a more realistic example. My point was to bring up faulty logic, which is still equally valid.

As others have mentioned, layoffs should not be templatized, it is an indication that the company doesn't care much about the employees, the heart and soul of the company. I hope to God it was more than 5 minutes to draft a message to put 250 people out of a job in the middle of a Pandemic.

Putting it up to "well this is the standard of the industry" is bullshit, if you want more realistic examples, sexism in the work place is _not_ a hyperbole and is still very normal and very wrong.


You think their PR head would only spend 5 minutes crafting a post announcing the layoff of a quarter of their staff?


For a well trained and well paid one? Yeah, they probably have a template.


I wouldn't expect there to be a corporate template for a mass layoff press release. Having such a thing would be a warning sign for the future of the company to me.

Also, people who don't know anything about a task tend to underestimate its complexity. I can't remeber the name of the effect but it's a variant of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


Mass layoffs are and have been standard procedures in any company, regardless of size. Writing such templates in good times instead of wasting resources elsewhere is just good risk management.


Whether you have a template or not, each mass layoff is going to be under specific circumstances, and is going to carry significant PR and HR consequences. It would be wise to take considerably longer than 5 minutes to consider and craft that message. I would agree that they could hammer out an initial draft for discussion with management in 5 minutes though.


I’m curious of the racial makeup of the lay-off. Are they fighting systemic racism or not?


[flagged]


It depends on whether the reader feels diversity should be reduced to a PR tool and a mechanism of distraction, which seems disconnected from whether you’re for or against diversity as a goal for the organization. In fact, I’d think both folks for and against it would find this reductive usage onerous at best.


I don't agree. I think the whole press release comes off quite dishonest and manipulative.

I'm not quite sure who the intended audience of the release is. Releasing a statement announcing the layoff of many employees while trying to position the company as "a technical powerhouse of the internet activist movement" just screams insincerity.


To me it seems not so much insincere, but incoherent.

This all sounds like a bunch of grasping at big picture straws, not announcing a new actual direction.

I'd be very wary of what we hear from Mozilla leadership in the next few months.


Honestly, I think the exact opposite of what you're implying. If you truly value diversity, you don't use it as some sort of cover in the first paragraph of your layoff announcement.


Any corporate entity making claims of supporting diversity without creating efforts to improve actual diversity which requires much earlier interaction long before hiring, is likely not really concerned about diversity but virtue signaling.

This is just my own opinion. There's also the consideration that merit and talent should exceed diversity as a goal. For developers, I find that those that I would hire are roughly 10-15% of those I've interviewed. I've always paid more attention to content and character, and that has shaken itself out to include quite a bit of diversity in the end without being a goal.

Maybe it's a side effect of coming from a generation online before cameras and even gui interfaces were really much of a thing. I never really cared much about someone's sexual or racial identities, only what their ideas and statements were. I almost wish we could return to those things. When I see a pull request on github, I don't go looking into the person, only the code.


It really doesn't. I can support diversity while also not being impressed by corporate PR. I'm not sure how they are actually related at all?


> That depends entirely on how the reader feels about diversity.

Or that depends entirely on how the reader is used to seeing buzz words the whole time used in unrelated contexts. You know, not every mundane thing is life bears relation to high ideals.


[flagged]


>EDIT: ...aaaaand you downvoted me. Typical.

this isn't reddit. Even if you have downvote priveledges, you can never downvote direct replies to your own comments. so it was not them.


*privileges

(just a friendly heads up)


You're getting downvoted and all the replies are disagreeing with you. Is it because everyone else is misunderstanding your clear, reasonable argument, or is it more likely something to do with the way you're communicating it?


It appears to be the former because no one addressed my point that people have different viewpoints.

In my original post I stated that people would only eyeroll a reference to diversity based on how they view diversity. That's it.

I thought that was harmless and succinct. People have different points of view, and no person can anticipate how another person will react. Then people tried to explain to me that I was wrong, which means: people's views DON'T actually play into how they react, which is demonstrably false. See that? In order to argue me, you have to take the position that you know exactly how everyone will already react.


OK, so what's the point you were trying to make with your initial statement? If you were just making the tautological statement that people act based on their points of view, a fact which if meant literally is both obvious and irrelevant, then what was the point of making that comment?

Rather, your comment strongly appeared to suggest that you were implying one would support Mozilla's statement if they supported diversity, and vice-versa. But if you were trying to imply that, it appears you missed the point of the parent's comment. And if you weren't trying to imply that, and weren't just stating a tautology, then it still isn't clear what point you are trying to make.


> six people claimed I was wrong, which means they can read minds

No, it means you communicated badly, and your edit and replies are doubling down on that.


>Critical thinking means removing your emotional bias from analysis.

it also means not immediately dismissing different perspectives.

It is self defeating to remove emotional bias when the statement in question is an emotional plea. That's likely the root of all the reservations you're getting in replies.


I never dismissed anything. You literally dismissed ME. sigh


> Sadly, the changes also include a significant reduction in our workforce by approximately 250 people. These are individuals of exceptional professional and personal caliber who have made outstanding contributions to who we are today. To each of them, I extend my heartfelt thanks and deepest regrets that we have come to this point.

From TFA.


> and if you want to announce other changes, do it in a separate announcement

From TFC.


it is still a weird suggestion. given two truths "we are currently failing" and "we decided to change course" it makes sense to bundle them into "we tried something, we must face it didn't work, there are negative consequences now, we are hopeful a new direction will save us".

sometime corporate doublespeak is just trying to communicate a narrative or a vision for the future, which in terms of long term survival are often more important than clearly stated facts.


In this situation the corporate doublespeak just came across as dishonest, as we would somehow skip the part about the layoffs.

The CEO of Carta made a post about layoffs they had there a couple months back, and the contrast with this Mozilla post is night and day IMO: https://medium.com/@henrysward/cartas-covid-19-layoff-cbb80e...


Yes, but that's largely because they serve different purposes. Mozilla's announcement is a press release for external consumption. Carta's post is internal and for employees, and I'm sure there was one of these for Mozilla as well, but we're not privy to it.



I actually don’t disagree, I just took issue with the terse “RTFA” when it appears that same person didn’t read the comment they were replying too.


TFC? (And TFA, above?)


"The Fine Comment" and "Article", respectively. Sometimes another adjective is substituted, by angry people.


Thank you :)


Haha, this is what it looks like to cater to the privacy/security crowd. They have a picture of ideological purity. They don't actually use your product. Essentially if these were customers you'd want to fire them.

People in this business always discover this stuff and then they're always like "Why do they hate me?". The answer is "they never wanted to love you. They want to watch you fall". Like DDG with their favicon service (which HN billed as some sort of nefarious tracker).

Vanta bypassed all this by not playing to the Security Puffery crowd. Usually a quick way to do that is to require money because the Security/Privacy Puffery crowd doesn't have any.

I'm a happy Firefox and Chrome user. Honestly, it's been working fine for me.


I use Firefox. I have used it since it was called Phoenix, and I still use it today, extensively, on macOS, Linux, and Windows.

I'm just disappointed about what Mozilla has become over the years. It wasn't supposed to be an "agile" tech company, with slick marketing and UI/UX, making deals to try to get market share.

It was supposed to be a non-profit foundation, making an open-source cross-platform browser engine, pushing for open protocols and standards. It enabled a few niche open-source operating systems to have a viable browser, it put a big dent in IE's market share, I would say it paved the way for Safari on iOS to be viable way back in 2009, and that obviously changed the world.

It still could have done that. It was making 100s of millions of dollars per year from the default search provider deal, for over a decade. It could have saved most of that money, spending it only on 50 to 100 browser engineers. Branching out to MDN and websocket or webrtc libraries would also make sense. But the rest of the crap, the marketing, the rebranding, the Pocket purchase and integration, Firefox OS, the voice recognition and AI stuff (and notice the announcement, they're keeping the AI division, really need that part apparently), stuff that nobody remembers, that's all a waste of money that could be saved by the non-profit foundation to just support the low-level engine keeping the open web viable.


I'd say if they wanted to do a moon-shot-but-actually-achievable non-browser project against a slow, bloated, closed, locked-in, shitty product that everyone uses anyway (so, like IE back when they took that one), they'd target Google's office suite. As a bonus it could give them the revenue they want, through paid business hosting with official support or something like that.

Being an as-good-as-the-competition web browser that's not the default on any major OS (yeah I use it, but the Linux desktop ain't major) and doesn't have something like Google's reach for massive promotion (like they did with Chrome) is gonna kill them as a viable product with broad appeal, at this rate. They need to find a way to make that so much better than the competition that people bother to install it (on others' computers, too, like how they got their start), and I'm not sure how they can do that, or they need to pick another crappy but super-popular web-related product and go for the throat.

[EDIT] for that matter, web chat/conferencing, and social. IMO the browser's a dead-end for them except as a supporting product, but they keep focusing on utterly dull, niche, or already well-served products. IE sucked, but everyone needed a browser. Firefox crushed it by thoroughly and entirely not sucking. Pick something else that sucks and do the same. Not... bookmarking or whatever Pocket does.


Office 365 is pretty great I honestly dont get why people keep using gsuit


Free, and they already have gmail. Android pushes it. Seems super-popular in schools. Ties in with their education offerings, I think, and lots of schools use chrome books.


If you ever managed to drop out of the "free" google apps classification (and I don't think I was the only idiot to mistakenly allow that to happen), google apps are not free.

I pay about $12/month to be able to use these things, which I regret only slightly less than not having the time to establish suitable alternatives.


I got Office 365 as I enrolled into university a couple of years ago in Australia, always thought most universities went with MS offerings.


Unlimited Google Drive, honestly. It’s nice being able to keep an offsite backup (but not the only one, of course) of my NAS in the cloud.

I assume they’ll get rid of it at some point and then I’ll move, but it’s surely handy (OneDrive is completely terrible UX wise and has a 5TB hard limit).


I actually prefer the flat aesthetic of MS services, not sure what UX you're referring to. Yes the storage limit sucks but other than that Outlook and One Drive are not any laggier than Google's products to me and they have all the basic things I need (plus some ads, admittedly). Needless to say MS office is superior to Google docs.


Ended up going to one drive when I saw how much resources google drive was eating up on my mac. Work pays for both anyway.


It's unfortunate that they don't support Linux. Drove me to a competitor, for myself and my whole family.


Each time somebody mentions, that 'libxslt2' is on an XPath 1.0 level (20 years old, we are at v3.1, currently) and how nice an update would be, the common agreement is the same: "lots of work, which nobody pays for."

Just thinking about all the money they burned through, how great would it have been, to bring XML up to current standards, and to support it well in Firefox. I mention this, because it is important, that we have at least one browser in the market, that understands XML native.

Or what would be if "Ubiquity" would have become an integral part of Firefox? Wow, just wow! I hate these people. They totally ignored the desire of many folks for a WYSIWYG XUL IDE back in the day as well... Instead they made Firefoxy parties, sold T-Shirts and coffee-mugs, implemented 'Persona', 'Hello' and what not! Did you just say, they bought 'Pocket'? Holy moly! I thought it was just a strategic relationship.


They bought pocket and, in my opinion, overpaid for it significantly (quite a few of us were mad at that at the time).

There was some relationship between the creator of Pocket and one or more Mozilla executives and/or board members that made the whole purchase stink in more ways than one.

First thing i do on a new Firefox profile (for the one machine I have still running Firefox) is disable Pocket.


Especially ironic considering that Firefox's UI chrome markup language (XUL) is (was?)... XML. And javascript. It was like a not-shitty Electron ahead of its time by like 20 years. I'm still bitter about XUL being irrelevant now.


What has XML to do with anything?


XML is the only serious, modern document format we have and well within the realm of web browsers.


Very informative! I remember using Mozilla alongside Netscape with the entire suite for editing etc. versus Frontpage.

And when Phoenix/Firebird came out how it was very basic but a slimmed down version of Mozilla.

It seemed they lost their way and just became the old Mozilla browser but with lots of features nobody wanted (Pocket??) and a tonne of other things I have no idea why they got involved in. Perhaps they just employed developers who liked writing new things.


This x1000. They get hundreds of millions a year to maintain a few foundational web technologies. Instead of doing that well, they are constantly on quixotic adventures with stuff like the Mr. Robot crossover and still fail to maintain core functionality. They lost the ability to fully remap browser controls in 2016 and haven't restored it since.

How do you have that much money for such a limited scoped mission and still get in over your head? And if so, what hope is there for anyone else?


Same here, been using Netscape, Mozilla, Phoenix and Firefox. Watched the development of Firefox 0.x to 4, e10s, MemShrink, SpiderMonkey, xMonkey, Firefox OS, Rust and Servo.

Witness Firefox ran an Ad on the front page of newspaper with thousands of supporters names on it. It sure made us proud, the battle against IE. ( Which is why I get pissed when people say Safari is the new IE ) I dont know how long ago was that, early 2000? Must have been nearly two decade.

Pushed Firefox installation in a University Campus to thousands of PCs. Pushed through hundreds of installations in a few enterprise. Along with dozen of other things, communities, Mozillazine ( I think it is now in Read Only Mode) .

There are lots of help from others too. I am sure I am not the only one. I dont know and dont think Chrome ever got that much support.

If you are IBM or Intel, you can afford to do silly thing like acquiring McAfee. You can afford to waste money and inefficiency. The whole reason why Startup were able to compete with some of the big players is that they could get $10 out of $1 spend, while Enterprise could barely move even with $10. The inefficiency is real, the only exception to that is possibly Apple.

Mozilla has a large cooperate mentality, enterprise inefficiency, non-profits ideals and startup's moon-shot strategy. I dont know of any possible worst combination than that.

So after nearly three decades of Netscape / Mozilla, I moved on to a different browser. It was just too painful to watch.

Edit: I forgot to add, Google has yet to renew their contract with Mozilla. Given their new low in marketshare ( Judging from Apple, terms are likely paid per Active User basis ), I suspect the negotiation terms is substantially lower than previously. Hence the layoff.


Not sure I understand. You disagree with the way the company/organization is being run so much, so you stopped using their free product? Do you still like the actual browser?


>so you stopped using their free product?

If it wasn't clear, a user is directly supporting Mozilla by using their product.


But do you like the product?

If coca-cola did some re-organization I didn´t like or spent money like a mad person on ridiculous products, I´d still buy coke until the company went broke.


I find that I agree and disagree on a few points. I do wish they'd kept their focus on the technical over the marketing. I don't think they really needed the swaths of MBA types in charge of the organization, and wish they'd stayed closer to their technical roots which is what survived from the earlier Netscape through AOL and into Mozilla. I was also an early fan from Phoenix, though I think the Firebird name (also a fan at that time of Firebird SQL) was a misstep.

I think some of the more encompasing efforts haven't all been bad. Rust as a language has been a great thing to come from Moz. Firefox OS could have been interesting as well.

For that matter I'd have been happy to see broader adoption of Mozilla's identity efforts, and don't so much mind them trying to get VPN as a secondary funding source.

I do wish their structure was more geared towards keeping the technical and developer teams as a focus of the organization over the more commercial aspirations.

I will say I did switch to Chrome around 2010 mostly because I really do prefer it's UI/UX ... FF is getting closer to that, despite some really not liking it and I've considered switching back.

I also find it ironic how popular electron has become, when XULRunner was such a great platform well over a decade before. I do think there's opportunity to create the next npm in concert with deno and firefox for supporting a greater module approach. There's still some unanswered bits there. Similarly, still would like a way to do bundled application packages; similar to jar or silverlight that's just a zip file of assets with a manifest and modules.

If often feels like Mozilla is doing their own thing to try and gain market share instead of working with the broader community.


Yep, if they had stuck the Google money in an index fund and only operated off a small drawdown then they wouldn't need to rely on commercial interests or donations today.


Thanks for putting this all in perspective. Sounds like bad management to me, really unfortunate. Keeping the AI unit is nonsensical.


AI has been beset by problems of racial bias, and is currently only open to corporate giants. It makes perfect sense to try an manage core AI capability as an NGO exactly the same as it makes sense to manage an open, free browser.

You can argue that Mozilla specifically shouldn’t do this, and you might be right. But no-one else has their profile. No-one else is doing it.


I think your critique is the only reasonable one I've read so far. Mozilla need to go back to their radical roots, refocus their energy for the new decade, above all find a way to survive which doesn't compromise their integrity.


They should have switched to blink or WebKit years ago. Yes I used Firefox since it came out of AOL but for quite a few years now it has been a liability. Too many web sites simply don't work in Firefox. Nobody making web sites tests in Firefox any more. The Mozilla leadership adopted the head in the sand approach on this point with the obvious outcome. So long and thanks for all the fish!


The secret to make folks test on Firefox is by making developers happy. What makes them happy? A good DevTools experience.

Chrome won me over as a developer with its developer console, and I noticed Firefox Devtools has become a lot better now.

There are still quirks in Chrome's devtools and Firefox really has a shot if it focuses properly. For example working with large JS files are painful and the networks tab can be way more better.


But the rest of the crap, the marketing, the rebranding, the Pocket purchase and integration, Firefox OS, the voice recognition and AI stuff (and notice the announcement, they're keeping the AI division, really need that part apparently), stuff that nobody remembers, that's all a waste of money that could be saved by the non-profit foundation to just support the low-level engine keeping the open web viable.

I have no reason to think that your assessment of what's "crap" is a good one, while the assessment of those who actually work at Mozilla is somehow worse.


> Haha, this is what it looks like to cater to the privacy/security crowd. They have a picture of ideological purity. They don't actually use your product. Essentially if these were customers you'd want to fire them.

Precisely this, and it's been apparent for a long, long time. The lesson that organizations should learn from watching Mozilla's reception in tech circles is this: never, ever, ever market to power users; casual users are more numerous and less demanding. Chrome won the war a decade ago when it decided to focus aggressively on casual users, leaving Mozilla to deal with the fractious dregs of the power user market.


Sure, power users can be a pain in the ass, but if everything were up to casual users, we'd all still be on IE 1x, i.e., whatever that wraps the same broken, insecure, non-standard-compliant MSHTML engine in the shiny Windows UI toolkit-du-jour. Power users were the first to pick up Firefox when it was split off from the old Mozilla suite, and power users were the ones who began using and recommending Chrome when it was the upstart browser. If Firefox survives and (hopefully) returns to a reasonable market share, it'll probably be thanks to power users who stuck with it or gave it another chance.


Except Chrome was significantly better in ways that even casual users could see and be sold on: simplicity and speed, which initially turned away a significant number of power users who heavily rely on and prefer a wide variety of addons and settings to customize Firefox.

Power users are certainly valuable for spreading the word but it's only one way, you can also actually advertise and market the thing like Google did. And even though power users can spread the word, you still need a superior product for casuals to actually win them over. How long has HN and other forums been beating the drum for Firefox now? Has it actually made a difference in their declining marketshare (at least for desktop, not sure about mobile)?

I don't think it has, and I don't think it ever will. If Firefox survives and resurges in popularity, it will be for a better, more polished, more optimized, slicker product for casuals. And many power users will hate them for it. Well, that's just my prediction.


This is a very revisionist explanation of how Chrome succeeded: Simply put they paid to be injected into Adobe Reader and Flash Player installs. When Android came around, every manufacturer was required to include Chrome as default.

None of this had to do with product quality.


> None of this had to do with product quality.

This is quite mistaken, Chrome would not be the market leader without the best product quality. You can't force a worse browser into market leadership, as Microsoft can tell you. They've been aggressively forcing defaults and preinstalling their browsers at a far deeper level than Google was for years (and they're still doing it), yet they lost so badly they outright abandoned their own formerly dominant browser. Then even among techies and "power users" who know how to change defaults, Chrome gained incredible traction as the fastest and simplest browser.

Companies can push a browser all they want but getting the vast majority of people to actually use the browser that you've put in their face requires your browser to be legitimately better than the one they're used to. Everyone, including many "power users", could see how much further ahead Chrome was, especially in its early years.

I know some people prefer to think that Google has mind control abilities and can somehow trick users into using a product that provides a worse experience, but this is far from the reality. Effective marketing and delivery is only ever a fraction of the story. It's telling that even in the tech industry, full of professionals who know how to use computers, Chrome remains the dominant browser.


Casual users use only one browser, the very concept of a worse browser doesn't exist for them.

>who know how to use computers

That's not much, even monkeys know how to use computers.


Everybody under 30 knows the meme "IE slow, Chrome fast"


That doesn’t match my memory at all. I recall a lot of word of mouth between non tech friends about “this new fast browser Google made”. At the time it really was eye-poppingly fast by comparison to the competition.


There was definitely tech crowd excitement about Chrome back when it was actually fast, but you don't get a 71% market share that way. You get a 71% market share by cutting deals with other vendors to inject your app, which is exactly what was done.

Another fun fact, is that previously to Chrome, Google had been doing the same with the Google Toolbar for IE, which changed everyone's default search to Google as well. Chrome wasn't so much about "protecting the open web" as protecting Google: They were afraid (not inaccurately) that Microsoft was considering figuring out a way to prevent the Google Toolbar from hijacking the search settings in IE.

The nontechnical user flow at the time, was that they might have MSN Search or whatever on Internet Explorer 6, and then they'd hit a website that needed Adobe Flash Player. The Flash Player installer would have the "Also install the Google Toolbar" checkbox preselected, so it would install that browser toolbar and switch your search engine to Google.

The reason Sundar Pichai is the guy that ended up on top at Google is because the Google Toolbar (and then Chrome) was his baby, and that ushered in Google's monopoly much more than literally anything else at Google.


Plus Google‘s browser cared deeply about developer tools. They were a generation better than anyone else at the time and had great support/evangelism. That alone converted my team of 15 in a year.


Were they not already using Firebug? I remember seeing Chrome's devtools and thinking "oh, like Firebug but built in."


Firebug was pretty buggy, especially the JS debugger. Lot of upgrade-and-break and downloading different versions. Dev Tools just worked.


I don't disagree with your first paragraph - though I also remember, in London, giant billboards and cinema ads for chrome too as well as advertising for it on the google search page.

However, I switched from Firefox to Chrome when the former changed how DPI were calculated, told everyone that the new way is the right way and it's up to websites to deal with it, and everything looked wrong in the meantime. And then I noticed that on Chrome, not only did things look a bit nicer to me (quite apart from the DPI issue), but the same sites I often used rendered just a little bit faster - faster enough to be noticeable.

At the time, at least for me, Chrome was at least equal to Firefox in terms of product quality.


I used the first version and remember it being like a stripped-down version of Firefox at the time. It was the same codebase but with most of the useful UI ripped out.


I'd consider myself generally a power user... I still really preferred chrome's out of the box experience over Firefox really early on.

I think a lot of times more technically driven products resist change a bit too much. Some of the best examples are Gimp and Firefox. Gimp's UI is hideous and despite Gimpshop builds offering a better experience to users, they still resist. Similar for Firefox's overall ui/ux when so many preferred chrome (including myself).

Not all UI change is for the better, but when the vast majority of users prefer a different experience, it's helpful to listen sooner than later.


Just as an FYI: Apparently the Gimpshop website isn't owned by the developer and hasn't been for years. It's apparently riddled with adware and malware and isn't developed anymore.


Absolutely, but the truth of your words is also the tragedy. Having engaged and demanding users might have positive externalities when these users demand things that improve the products in the market as a whole, and thereby improve the experience for casual users as well. But companies don't want to improve their products, or improve society, or improve experiences for users; what they want is to collect rent. An established company becomes more cost-efficient by embracing casual users and ignoring power users. An upstart company might want to leverage power users to compete against a well-funded opponent, but that debt eventually comes due as we see now with Mozilla.

At enterprise prices (i.e. thousands of dollars per user per year) it makes sense to accept the cost of dealing with power users. But not for a product that you give away for free.

I say this as someone who has been using Firefox for years, and you'll need to pry it from my cold, dead hands. I'm impressed that Mozilla has survived for as long as it has, I was sure they'd be financially kaput by 2016; at this point I think Google only keeps their search deal up as an attempt to avoid antitrust action. I don't know what the future holds for Firfox, but I hope it remains competitive. We need alternative competing implementations for the health of the web.


"Sure, power users can be a pain in the ass, but if everything were up to casual users, we'd all still be on IE 1x, i.e."

How true. To paraphrase Henry Ford, if HTML5 developers asked instead what casual users wanted, we would now have a faster Flash.

It's history repeating itself over and over: developers and power users introduce or ask for something innovative, then casual users notice it, embrace it but also ask for it to be simpler to use ("50 knobs are too many, we want it to be usable with 3!"), therefore many functions are automated, other removed and interfaces are dumbed down to make the product palatable to the lowest denominator; however now the product has lost most of its "cool factor", not to mention some advanced functions, and doesn't attract power users anymore, many of them ending up migrating elsewhere. Rinse, repeat.

That is not going to happen to Firefox, since the war for conquering casual users has already been fought and won by Google thanks to their pervasive advertising telling everyone the lie that Chrome is better and safer. Mozilla should instead focus on giving power users the best possible product wrt security and privacy, two aspects where it would win hands down against Google, while at the same time try not to lose those among casual users who happen to be concerned about privacy and security and to whom Chrome would not be an option.

As for Mozilla's need to become profitable, why don't they attempt to use their widely known brand to sell personalized Pi-Hole-like boxes, hardware firewalls, VPN bricks that connect together from here to there, etc. Imagine two boxes with network plus audio ports: you connect mic, headphones, optional camera, a network cable, your laptop and the two boxes will establish an authentic E2E encrypted voice + video + data communication from anywhere to anywhere, no other operations required. Mozilla could surely provide the necessary services to get around NATted or filtered connections, and the shiny boxes with their logo would ease the association between the brand and the concept of private communications, security, privacy etc. helping as a consequence the adoption of Firefox as well. I think if they really want to focus on privacy and security they shouldn't ignore the hardware field where their brand can still make a difference.


> How true. To paraphrase Henry Ford, if HTML5 developers asked instead what casual users wanted, we would now have a faster Flash.

Like this?

https://www.leaningtech.com/pages/cheerpx.html


Your flawed assumption-by-framing is that all of Firefox's power users are "techie" / "computer-savvy" / "hacker" power users, which is definitely not true for other products, and likely isn't true for Firefox either.


But the parent didn't make that assumption.


Parent indicates that the same power users that hat first adopted Firefox, before it had any market share or was known to regular people around the world, will be the ones who save it. Those are, in industry parlance, "early adopters".

Those early adopters would have been adopting Phoenix 0.2^ which was released in September 2002, that was later released as Firefox 1.0^ two years later — at a time when the only power users could have been those same "early adopters".

Those early adopters would have been as I describe: technical users with the capability to install and operate an unfamiliar browser for the sake of curiosity. (I was still using MSIE in 2002, so it's not like it was universal among technical users either, yet.)

Those early adopters do not represent the total set of power users today.

^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefox_early_version_history


It is also the reason why GNU/Linux desktop will never go beyond 2%.

Android and ChromeOS pack a Linux kernel on their bottom layers, but nothing of it gets exposed to userspace neither for users nor for devs.

Android NDK explicitly doesn't have anything Linux related as part of the official stable APIs contract, and on ChromeOS Linux support is exposed via a container, WSL2 style.


> casual users are more numerous and less demanding.

That makes zero sense.

Why Mozilla seems to be axing the Servo division? The only part that actually catered to casual users? Also by introducing a VPN and Pocket Premium is for casual users how?


Why does that make zero sense? It sounds like you actually agree that Mozilla doesn't cater to casual users.


I'm pretty sure kibwen implies this restructuring is to cater to casual users. By axing their division focused on perfs, i.e. one of few divisions that actually impacts casual users.


I disagree with "never, ever" - everyone's fighting to get _developers_ to use their tools, which is why both Chrome and Firefox have a great F12 inspector built in, Microsoft is open-sourcing a ton of stuff and building VS code and developing a native Linux subsystem etc.

Basically, there's money in being an ecosystem like Apple's or Google's app store - you can take a 30% cut just for being the platform if you play it right - but Microsoft noticed with Windows phone and UWP that you can't just set up a store and rake in the cast unless you can attract developers to build things on your platform.

Then there's anchor products, a term from supermarkets for things like coke/pepsi (depending on the country you're in) - the idea being, if you don't stock these then your customers will shop somewhere else. If Facebook/Uber/Whatsapp/$COMPANY decides to develop their app for mobile OS 1 and 2 but not 3, then that's a strong disincentive for some people to buy OS 3, even if it's privacy-respecting and open-source and diverse and whatever. (The desktop counterpart to this is MS Office. For most companies, the choice is between Win and Mac, and will remain so unless Office ever becomes natively supported on Linux.)

Even the government has realised this, with their "clean app stores" plan - I read this part as "we won't outright ban US citizens from buying Huawei phones, but we'll make sure they only have access to a segregated app store and we'll lean on major companies not to develop a separate version for this store.

So if you ever want to launch a new platform, service or similar with a business plan that third parties will develop software for it, you'd better keep these third parties happy with decent developer tools.


The two biggest features that made firefox what it is were extensions and tabbed browsing, both aimed at power users. Take those away and it never would have been used by power users and no one else ever would have heard of it.


When have they marketed to power users? Can you point to a campaign? Everything I’ve seen from them has been trying to convince everyday people that privacy is necessary or some fun Mr Robot thing.


Interestingly, I don't quite subscribe to that view. I think there are businesses (like Retool or Quickbase) that are very good at catering to power users.

But I know what you mean. In the Geeks, Mops, and Sociopaths text (which I don't necessarily fully subscribe to except for the naming conventions - which are useful), these people are the Mops. They aren't people who are actually concerned about security (Vanta is a successful product for those people) or privacy. They are the Mops of the Sec/Priv group.

They can't give you anything and you can't give them anything. So there's little point engaging with them. If you're interested, I have a friend working on something he calls overlay networks, to allow the Geeks to communicate with other Geeks while allowing Mops to provide the cultural mass.

I've met other people who were part of Firefox's big grassroots campaign that forever changed the web and won all of us the new standards-compliant web that Chrome has thrived in and a lot of them have remained Geeks. And I suppose almost all of them were Power Users. So I don't quite disagree with you, I just think the group is refinable and you definitely want the Geek Power User on your team - they become the fabled first adopter.


> never, ever, ever market to power users; casual users are more numerous and less demanding.

Truth.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224


For being the go to example of “HN user craps on launch of highly successful product”, the reply to Drew’s reply is pretty respectful and backdowns down on several points.


Power users are a multiplicator. If your products satisfies both, you win as it gets recommended by said powerusers.


It's not even about technical vs casual people it's about Moore's Law. Memory became so cheap that it makes sense to store everything in an internet cloud.


Casual people are more likely to pay to solve their problems, and believe your product is “magic” (saw this first hand from user feedback and interactions at a popular startup). Some technical people will, many will not. Know your audience, go where the money is, not the complaints of non users.


Nerd and power-user evangelists are the only reason FF ever had any market share to begin with. We installed it on everyone's computer we had access to. We did this because even non-nerds could tell it was better than the OS' default browser, out of the box.

Non-nerds can no longer tell it's better, so I stopped doing that. No longer worth the effort, might even end up adding to my friends-and-family tech support burden rather than reducing it. I still use it myself anywhere Safari's not available, but yeah, it's a power-user-only product now.

Chrome only did better with regular users because 1) it was OS-bundled, and 2) they could shove "try Chrome!" banners at the top of every Google property. I don't think the product itself is significantly more focused on normal users. Google's just got a way, way better platform for promotion. They can snap their fingers and get a million installs of something in a day, if they really want to. But fact is FF doesn't have that. What they did have was power users doing all their marketing for them. Not so much, these days.


At the time Chrome took off, Firefox had gotten bloated and slow, and Chrome was lightning by comparison. (I'm sure part of it was simply due to having enough features out of the box, thus requiring less add-ons / extensions.)

Firefox of course got much better eventually, but by then the damage was done, and Chrome's ability to sync with the rest of Google products (and Android devices) made the browser extremely sticky.


You forgot something, Chrome was also significantly better than all other browsers technically.


People say this, but I always find Chrome just oddly unappealing to use. It just doesn't "feel" right. Which is the opposite of what I hear lots of people say, but it's always felt that way to me nonetheless.


FF was really crashy/hangy around when Chrome came out—the main appeal of Chrome was that it'd do the same thing but confine the damage to one tab. Also IIRC its dev tools were on par with or better than Firebug (remember that?) early on, and performed way better. FF has gotten a lot better since then so the difference is much less stark. It was worth a little UI weirdness at the time to not have your whole session die when one tab misbehaved.


I guess I just looked at fewer shady websites than most. Never really had an issue with Firefox crashing on me.


Didn't need shady, just... any javascript, really. No other browser was any better so I don't think anyone thought much of it until Chrome came out with the amazing new feature of per-tab crashing.


You can measure it. For our large Javascript-heavy application Chrome is twice as fast as Firefox. V8 is an amazing piece of technology and the Chrome team should be proud of this.


IIRC it was the first browser to pass ACID3


Maybe the internals.

Chrome UI was (and is) total shit compared to Opera (Presto Opera, not the new Blink one). The tab bar was literally unusable for like 10 years if you had more than ~20 tabs open.

Last time I used Windows without an SSD, Chrome kept stalling on IO every couple minutes (for some profile or temp files bs), fixed by symlinking to a ramdisk.

Chrome still can't properly VSYNC, can't keep a stable framerate and has unnecessary frames of input lag.

When (if) they make ad blocking impossible, they will lose every single tech savvy user they have.


> Chrome only did better with regular users because 1) it was OS-bundled,

What OS bundles Chrome? Do you mean ChromeOS?

> and 2) they could shove "try Chrome!" banners at the top of every Google property.

That happened way later.

Maybe you have forgotten since it was so long ago, but the original wave of power users migrating to Chrome and bringing their non-power user friends along was exactly like the wave of folks who moved to Firefox. Chrome came out in 2008, had process-per-tab isolation and custom Chrome (i.e. window decorations, that's where the name comes from) that used less vertical space.

Your statement is revisionist history.


> What OS bundles Chrome? Do you mean ChromeOS?

Android.

[EDIT] and Chrome was better enough that it got power users switching (this is before "Google has become very obviously evil" was common geek opinion yet, which helped), but I'm not sure it would have gotten them installing it on normal folks' computers with quite the fervor we did Firefox, back in the day. The banner ads are what got them on normal people's computers.


It was power-users. That process isolation thing was a big part of its selling point. IIRC they put out a comic strip touting how technically awesome it was

https://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/

edit... I'm sort of amazed the whole thing is licensed as CC


> What OS bundles Chrome?

Android.


> They don't actually use your product.

> [Privacy/Security focused people] don't actually use [Firefox].

Is this what you mean? If so, I strongly disagree. I'd wager such 'power users' are the majority of Firefox users at this point. Casual users have all gone to Chrome, as well as many [but certainly not all] power users. I am still using Firefox and plan to continue doing so for as long as I can.

I'm concerned that Mozilla's mismanagement will make "for as long as I can" rather short. The only reason for this to concern me is because I use it. Writing off concerned commenters as non-users is a huge mistake.


I think it is possible to market privacy and security to casual users, but it's far more difficult to market anything to the privacy and security crowd. Apple has succeeded in their privacy marketing, I'd argue, because they already have a huge number of casual users.


Yeah I don't think being "privacy centric" has won over apple. It is their hardware/software integration and the mass market appeal they've built on top of their ad campaigns. I use apple stuff everyday and it is as stable as linux for me and much preferred to windows because of the constant invasion of privacy that is Windows 10.


This announcement has nothing to do with privacy and security and suggesting that it does is a red herring.

People generally want privacy and security, as numerous polls show, but:

a) it's very hard to figure out if something is private/secure

b) the company can change the deal at any point

c) the market has stacked the deck against privacy and security.

Until there are laws with teeth which will punish transgressors, not much will change.


> a) it's very hard to figure out if something is private/secure

> b) the company can change the deal at any point

Yes! Don’t forget the time Firefox, bastion of privacy, forgot to update a critical cert that allowed addons to work, and then said, “don’t worry guys, the whole time we had the power to force our updates without your consent, under the guise of an analytics feature, and we used that to fix this!”

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19825745

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19826827


> DDG with their favicon service (which HN billed as some sort of nefarious tracker)

That was a pretty blatant exposure risk for something trivial, and the employee who responded on it was shockingly inept. At some point the amount of stupidity becomes so incredible that Hanlon's Razor breaks down.


There are definitely people like you are describing, but it's unfair to lump everyone who critisizes Mozilla, DDG, or any other privacy-focused company in with that crowd.

I will happily critisize Mozilla, DDG, etc when they come up short, but I will also happily celebrate their successes and continue to use and recommend their products as long as they don't stray too far. I want them to aim for perfection, but I completely recognize they will fall short.

There is a huge difference between critisism and condemnation.


Criticism of errors in privacy/security does not mean they "want you to fall". Forcing proper change often requires public pressure.

Advocating against security is you advocating against yourself for no purpose other than sticking it to others. That's incredibly poor reasoning, and you're generalizing all groups as if they're all outrage for bad reasons.


>which HN billed as some sort of nefarious tracker

Because it was.


Actually, much of the security/privacy crowd is all-in on Apple products; not exactly a company catering to people who have no money.


The privacy crowd and the security crowd are mostly at each others throat.


I also hate the privacy argument. Anyone can write super-private software, it just needs to do nothing.

Anyone can do better than Google when it comes to privacy, especially if you define "privacy" as "don't do what Google is doing". It is almost a tautology: we first define Google as the opposite of privacy and then market yourself as private by not being Google. In order to drive the point, you add some kind of blocking feature and, yay, private!

In order to be relevant, you need to do more than that. Firefox used to be a great browser not because it was private, but because it was a great browser. It had great support for the latest web technologies, tabbed browsing before IE, it was fast, etc... And because of that it managed to make a dent in IE market share. But now, what does it have that Chrome doesn't besides not being from Google? Firefox even lost most of its identity by discontinuing XUL (for good reasons, I know) and updating its UI to look more like Chrome. I use both browsers on a day-to-day basis and Chrome tends to work better on average, though Firefox seems to be slowly catching up. I don't know what the situation is with Servo but it might be what Firefox needs.

Another example would be DuckDuckGo. Again, it caught the "privacy" virus. Please, no, "private" just means you are a proxy for inferior Bing results in this case. The worst part is that DDG has more to offer than "privacy", like instant answers and bangs. Why not market these instead?


Bing results are quite good.

But i still didn't buy DDG's privacy stuff


The best way to privately search the web is to not use a general purpose search engine in the first place if you can at all help it.

Instead of using DDG's !wiki or googling "wiki [topic]" you can configure a search keyword to send you to Wikipedia's search results page, cutting out the middleman. I have this done for a dozen or so sites I use frequently and this has cut my general purpose search engine usage down significantly.

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-search-from-address...

This is the sort of privacy enhancing feature that Firefox should streamline and advertise. I wonder if they don't make it known to users because it might influence how much money Google is willing to give them for being the default general purpose search engine..


The best solution I know for Wikipedia is to just host your own copy of it. Never need to send any queries out to the web. It's only around 100G with images. I use a simple url filter to change all wikipedia links to point at my local copy. Works like a charm. And fast. https://www.kiwix.org/en/


The UI for this feature barely even exists in Firefox -- you have to make a bookmark, and then edit it to replace the query with %s and add a keyword. There is also the half baked "one-click search engines" thing, but the button to "find more" just redirects to the extension store.

The Chrome UI is somewhat better and it also automatically creates these when you use a search somewhere, with a keyword equivalent to the site's domain.

I don't know why Mozilla doesn't just copy this old Opera UI: https://i.postimg.cc/1XCg1HG8/opera-search-edit.png


Can you show us where DDG has failed and continues to fail on the privacy front? It seems pretty decent to me.


> Firefox even lost most of its identity by discontinuing XUL (for good reasons, I know) and updating its UI to look more like Chrome.

Firefox lost most of its identity by updating its UI to look more like Old Opera. And it has been copying Opera since it was called Phoenix.

This is also the reason I use Firefox. It is the browser that more closely resembles Old Opera.


I may be rapidly downvoted but what strikes me as an outsider (reading most of the comments in this thread) is the collective psyche in the US is viscerally against any entity rising to the top that does not have profit as its sole goal. What they want is for Mozilla to solely focus on Firefox, on the technicalities, and shut up about everything else. And yet no one will actually pay for it as a product.

The tragedy of Mozilla is a very human one, with special embellishments added by the prevailing culture in the US, its home...


"the collective psyche in the US is viscerally against any entity rising to the top that does not have profit as its sole goal"

It is more like people are willing to dismiss bad behavior when there is a clear profit motive, since it seems obvious that when someone is in it for the money they will ignore other considerations. Take the profit motive out of the picture and people start to imagine other motives or attribute bad behavior to negative character traits, even when the behavior is generally better than the for-profit counterparts'.


Well, people expect a company to not try to ride the high horse down the low road. I don't personally think Mozilla has really done anything bad, I get it, they are a real company, with real employees who work for a living. Sometimes the realities of running a company clash with their PR of being some sort of public good. FWIW, I like Mozilla, and a lot of their values, and the products they put out, but their marketing does leave them open to ridicule in ways that a company who always answers "money" to the "why did you do this?" question is not.


> is the collective psyche in the US is viscerally against any entity rising to the top that does not have profit as its sole goal.

It might be the other way around in this case.

Mozilla rose to the top because of the promise of an open web and always making sure their users would come first, generating near endless goodwill and advocacy, and it was free software to boot.

Throughout the years when choices had to be made Mozilla didn't always side with the open web or the users, and whenever they were asked about it, the answer was always the same:

"Not our hill to die on. We need the clout we would lose, otherwise we won't be big enough to have any say when the next thing comes around."

and then the next thing came around, and the next...

The problem is that Mozilla seems to have revenue as an important goal. I imagine that's why people clamour for them to focus on the browser instead of pointlessly playing corporation with borrowed feathers.

They sold out.


Mozilla rose to the top because IE6 was obsolete trash, Opera cost money, and Chrome didn’t exist. The “promise of an open web” didn’t enter into it.


When IE6 came into the market it was the best on its class, the only problem was Microsoft declaring victory and dismantling the team to create Avalon (WPF), which is also the background why CSS Grid came from WPF.


... and the installer would download very quickly on your mom's dial-up, unlike the full Mozilla Suite which was huge, and it was much lighter-weight, better-performing, and had better default features for people who didn't need all of Mozilla Suite, so you could install it on there so she'd stop getting 500 pop-unders and then ending up with a virus and ten "browser bars" you had to fix.

Otherwise, yes, you've nailed it.


> We need the clout we would lose, otherwise we won't be big enough to have any say when the next thing comes around.

As John J. Chapman said in 1900:

> I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. "In a few years," reasons one of them, "I shall have gained a standing, and then I shall use my powers for good." Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought, his ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.


> Mozilla rose to the top because of the promise of an open web and always making sure their users would come first, generating near endless goodwill and advocacy, and it was free software to boot.

No, they had a free browser with tabs.


So this was because of the tabs?

"MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – December 15th, 2004 – [..]The ad, coordinated by Spread Firefox, features the names of the thousands of people worldwide who contributed to the Mozilla Foundation’s fundraising campaign to support last month’s highly successful launch of the open source Mozilla Firefox 1.0 web browser.

Spread Firefox is the volunteer-run Mozilla advocacy site, with over 50,000 registered members, where community marketing activities are organized to raise awareness and to promote the adoption of Firefox."

(https://blog.mozilla.org/press/2004/12/mozilla-foundation-pl...)


That's how you hear about a free browser with tabs, not how you finally satisfy that deep, nagging yearn for an open web.


At least that's how I remember it. Tabs were a huge improvement to the web browsing experience.


Before Firefox, Opera was known as "The Tabbed Browser".


How do I pay for Firefox directly? Donating to the foundation seems noble, but like other commentators have mentioned it all gets absorbed into the foundation or is part of a 'bonus product' bundle that (in my mind) overvalues a service I don't want (VPN, Pocket, whatever.)

I don't think Mozilla/Firefox is failing because no one will pay for it, but, because it won't take money for Firefox directly.


1000% this. i was literally writing the same comment. just have an easy way for me to selectively donate $15/month to Rust, Servo, Firefox, Thunderbird, whatever. instead you get some generic bucket with no possibility to really vote with your money.

e.g. i would have never paid for the A/R stuff they distracted their Servo engineers with (plus the Magic Leap entanglement). i would have also withheld funding for the non-removable Pocket integration fiasco. and the jack-in-the-box Mr. Robot promotion - once my tools start to become Mozilla's agents rather then user's agents, they cease to be my tools.

i should add that people who choose to use firefox rather than the default are those who are most likely to pay. not listening to them is absolute nonsense.


Apparently they fired the servo devs so you may not be able to support them at mozilla anymore anyway.


It would also help MoCo funding simply if more people used Firefox.


I’m just curious as to why. Bigger market share == bigger marketing/advertising share, specifically? Or something else?


Two reasons, one primary and one secondary:

1. Mozilla's revenue from the Google search deal depends on users searching for things using Firefox. More searches through the Firefox search bar, more revenue for MoCo.

2. Marketshare == developer mindshare. Declining marketshare has created a positive feedback loop where devs (or their managers) become less concerned about supporting Firefox. This induces more web compat issues, which causes more people to switch away, cycle repeats.


It's a tough spot to be in, for sure.

Firefox used to have two major advantages, at least for me as a user rather than a developer: customisability and the respect for privacy. The former went under a bus with Quantum and has never recovered. The latter is still there, but the single biggest hole in it is the use of Google for search, so that's probably the first thing that many privacy-sensitive users are going to change.

I do still use Firefox as my primary browser, despite having reconsidered several times in recent years. However, as a dev I have all the others readily to hand, and I do find myself forced to use others because pages simply don't work in Firefox with noticeable frequency now. From the opposite angle, I also can't remember the last time a client specified Firefox compatibility for a new project. It's usually Chrome, iOS Safari if mobile is relevant, and maybe Edge in corporate settings now.

Unfortunately the vicious cycle of market share and compatibility has been established, and while I think we'll all end up worse off for it, I'm not sure there's much anyone can do about it at this point, at least not as long as most of the actual functionality in Firefox is (unsurprisingly) so similar to other browsers.


Sounds reasonable, thanks! Didn’t know of the Google search deal.


Big-money donors are more interested if they see that the project is making a big difference.


This.

Mozilla is misaligned incentives all the way down.


What they want is for {product X} to solely focus on their needs {set Y}, disregarding everyone else's needs that conflict.

This selfishness is expressed for lots of things, not just Mozilla, but things like Ubuntu and Homebrew too.

I wonder what HN startups must think when they read HN comments and so very often see "my needs aren't met, I quit you".


> I wonder what HN startups must think when they read HN comments and so very often see "my needs aren't met, I quit you".

I know a couple of guys who posted their stuff here. They don't care about the complainers because the complainers don't have and don't offer to have skin in the game. They did the sensible thing, which is to be polite and respond noncommittally thanking them for the feedback or to ignore them.

Because you don't get information that will improve the product from them, they aren't potential customers, and they usually don't know what they're talking about anyway.


[flagged]


I don't think it's necessary or appropriate to assign an insulting stereotype label to that subset of customers, especially not on HN. People who behave in this manner can be readily found on HN in many discussions (for example, virtually all about telemetry), and while I don't understand them I don't condone insulting them either.


[flagged]


Irrelevant. I object to the intent to be insulting, not to the specific insult chosen. Insultingly calling them “paperclip giraffes^” with the same derogatory intent would have earned the same comment.

^ Thanks, password generator!


"What they want is for Mozilla to solely focus on Firefox, on the technicalities, and shut up about everything else."

Yes, you have perfectly described what I want.

To be fair, I also want this from typical, corporate, for-profit entities ...


I get it that the US federal government has been antagonizing the world on overdrive for the past ~4 years, but as an "insider" I really don't understand how you arrived at any of these conclusions. The very notion of "collective psyche" is entirely nonsensical in the US as there is almost nothing that is very broadly agreed-upon.

Now of course I'm particularly opinionated about Mozilla, since I donate regularly to the foundation, subscribe to their VPN, contribute to the Rust ecosystem, and use Firefox not only on desktop but mobile as well. So, perhaps I live in what might be called a bubble, but the idea that anybody would knock Mozilla because they are not profit-driven just doesn't make sense to me, and is actually the complete opposite of what I got from reading the comments in this thread, which, by the way, probably has decent international representation anyway.


> And yet no one will actually pay for it as a product.

I'm not sure how many there are that would pay for it, but I'm sure it's not zero.

I believe a browser is like an IDE, and I'm quite happy to pay for mine, as are plenty of other people apparently, JetBrains & Co are making good money. They are focused on their users though, which Firefox isn't.

I'm pretty sure that Firefox could get plenty of paying users at $100/yr even just by focusing on good developer experience. They don't though, and Chromium does.


That's a good point. A business plan along the lines of, for $8/month you get the pro edition which has all the latest features and updates, which the free tier would get 6 months later or so.

I use FF (dev edition) as my primary dev browser, and it's made a lot of progress on DX. Chromium has a smoother experience overall, but FF is not too shabby nowadays.


Sometimes it feels like there are people out there who want Mozilla to fail and gleefully seek ways to make that happen (even by doing something as simple as amplifying misinformation), even though it is not really in their interests to do so.


I've never seen any indication that anyone wants Mozilla to fail.

But after seeing several years of repeated strategic blunders and bad management, and Firefox slip from being the most popular web browser by a comfortable margin to a single digit percentage market share, which is still sliding down, I think the available evidence shows that they have failed quite badly, and for the most part through problems of their own making. Now, I'd like to use Firefox again, but they have regain strong technical focus first. They are all over the place doing irrelevant stuff. I'm surprised they even have that many staff to lay off in the first place given their financial situation. There must be a large percentage of non-jobs amongst that thousand, because they certainly weren't all dedicated to making a good web browser.


> But after seeing several years of repeated strategic blunders and bad management

Not that I disagree, but it's probably easy being a captain from the outside.


Who are these people who want Mozilla to fail?



Note that both of those comments are [dead]. Wanting Mozilla to fail is a very fringe opinion.


The first person wants mozilla to experience a failure as to wake them up and make them focus on the browser, not for mozilla to fail in general.

The second person does not say that they want mozilla to fail.


> I may be rapidly downvoted but what strikes me as an outsider (reading most of the comments in this thread) is the collective psyche in the US is viscerally against any entity rising to the top that does not have profit as its sole goal.

Counterpoint: Craigslist.


Mozilla can always give up firefox and let it has it own non-profit organization that take the revenue from the google deal. That way Mozilla can continue to focus on their advocacy product which they get paid so much for.


For me, the feeling of getting kicked in the shins by a diva designer every-other update has risen dramatically in the past few years, as has the prominence of (at least the feeling of) 'closed wontfix dontagree' issues for common and longstanding gripes on the bug tracker and GitHub. The unfortunate nature of a bad feeling is that it will outweigh a positive feeling from another change of equal consequence.

I would not be surprised if it was the same for other users. It results in implicitly giving less benefit of the doubt when another potential controversy comes up.

Other application developers are held to a lower standard because they have already come out the other side - people already simply assume the worst about them. The paradoxical anger comes from the fact that they don't want to do the same with Mozilla, but feel more and more that they'll have to.


The 'closed wontfix dontagree' attitude, or letting important requests sit there open for over a decade -- some with tens of thousands of comments -- is what killed Firefox more than anything.

In the enterprise world, Firefox lacked a few, small, but critical features:

1) MSI Installers

2) Group Policy Administrative Templates

3) Proxy configuration from Windows

4) Enterprise PKI integration

Some of these are supported now, but for about a decade there was at least one person in Mozilla with a philosophical opposition to doing anything that is seen as helping an enterprise Windows network deployment.

I'm pretty certain that Firefox still doesn't work properly in a large corporate environment. At any rate, I've given up trying, as have millions of other administrators. We installed Chrome, which "just worked", and moved on.

The result of this is that enterprise web applications were written for Chrome, not IE or Firefox. Chrome became mandated and automatically pushed to every machine. It has become the new IE6, for better or worse.

Firefox missed that boat.


> MSI Installers

Why was that important? I was under the impression that exe and msi installer had no real difference between them. Obviously I am incorrect but I am wondering why.


True, there's a spectrum. There's the "download wizard" stub installers, then "interactive only" installers, then the ones with unattended command-line flags, and then there's native support for the operating package management format.

In Windows there are further nuances, such as installing per-user, per-machine, or both. Similarly, MSI support often implies support for transforms (MST files) and patches (MSP files) also, which is important on large networks. Back in the days of constrained bandwidths, MSPs were great for rolling out updates without killing the WAN, but few vendors would provide them.

Firefox tended to prefer the interactive install wizard installers and hence deploying it at scale was an enormous pain in the arse.

For example, the Enterprise CA thing actually interacted with the packaging. You had to crack open the Firefox files, download some obscure NSS command-line tool that they regularly moved around on their website to spite admins, and inject your corporate certificates into the Firefox-specific Root CA file. After this, everything had to be put back together in some way for deployment, typically by repackaging the files into an MSI.

Similarly, instead of ADM Templates that allow settings to be pushed out via Group Policy, you had to do hideous things to JavaScript files. These also changed regularly and had all sorts of limitations.

There was just no way anyone in their right mind would do this every few weeks to keep up with the Firefox release schedule. IT admins have other things to do, not just babysitting Firefox, the one special and unique flower that refuses to play nice with Windows.

The only other obstinately anti-admin products I can think of that were this bad were the Java Runtime and the Adobe suite of products. Even Adobe provided an ADM template at least, even though they published it as a PDF.


On several important Windows servers on a customer's LAN that are accessed via Remote Desktop, Firefox is able to tell it wants to auto-update... and it fails to do so, since an unprivileged passer-by cannot (and should not) update important software, and no actual administrator bothers with browser updates after initial setup and certification.


MSI installers can be automated with PowerShell. They can be pushed system wide in a Domain.

I am sure there are other reasons, but these two are the important ones.


There is now, and has been for some time, an advocate of Firefox in the enterprise and last I checked that is almost entirely what he worked on. His name is Mike Kaply.

But you’re right: too little, too late.


The same reason MySQL is one or two orders of magnitude more popular than PostgreSQL.

Thinking it is a good idea to leave Windows users behind. You don't hurt Microsoft by doing that, you hurt yourself.


> I would not be surprised if it was the same for other users.

Yep, you can count me in this group as well. The Firefox team goes out of it's way to make so many changes that just seem useless or annoying; it's baffling to me. It really feels like a team with too many devs and designers sitting around needing to create work. I very much doubt that's actually the case, but that just means it's a widespread management issue.

That said, it doesn't make me want to stop using Firefox because the only other option is Chrome which has bigger issues.


> It really feels like a team with too many devs and designers sitting around needing to create work.

This is how a lack of a vision manifests - if there was a vision, there would be meaningful work for everyone, instead of people inventing unwanted features to keep themselves busy.

And of course, vision needs user & customer research, it's not a thing a 'leader' could hallucinate with no external inputs.


The last update of Firefox mobile really made wonder how it passed QA.

The navigation bar on the bottom is an interesting expiriment but still I quickly moved it back up.

The new tab layout is worse. Each tab need much more space so you can display about half the number of tabs on the same space.

The top sites when you opened a new tab also disappeared. It seems you can put bookmark or something to replace them but the top site feature was really good. I'm likely to want to visit sites I visit the most and that used to be a touch away


> The last update of Firefox mobile really made wonder how it passed QA

They had it as a separate app, as it was (seemingly) a rewrite that uses GeckoView. So having less features and unstable features was somewhat expected for users that went out of their way to install it.

Naturally, a lot of the old features weren't supported, and some were likely feeling like unmaintainable legacy code in the old version (Fennec) to begin with. So a rewrite may have made sense, for where the products were at and where they wanted to go. At least, in my opinion.

But for whatever reason, they decided that they had reached an acceptable level of feature and usability parity as to replace the old version with the new one (Fenix) in the play store. Somewhat forcibly moving all of the current users onto the new browser, silently for auto-updaters and update-all-ers. The downgrade path for those who want or need the old version is... well, I didn't see any documentation when I googled, so presumably it's "install the old APK and hope things work".

It's a cynical and somewhat egotistical approach to software development, disappointing to see from Mozilla and yet another entry on the list.

At this point, I would not be surprised if they find the idea of the extension whitelist - rather than a more open platform as is the desktop and was Fennec - far too appealing to move away from in the future.

That's somewhat doom-and-glooming, but many months ago I had thought they wouldn't end up trying to shove Fennec users onto Fenix in this way, and yet... here we are.


Also they basically removed the tablet mode - here I am with a 10 inch tablet and no tab bar, no back button on address bar & no keyboard shortcuts, perfect! :P

More things the dropped in lates "stable" Firefox for Android: - save as PDF - print support (!!) - downloade manager - full URL display - about:config (!!!) - extensions (other than 9 extensions they carefully cherry-picked)


I'd grant you that Mozilla is being held to a higher standard, to high perhaps. That's not really my complaint about Mozilla. The thing is, I freaking love Firefox. Developer can't speak highly enough about MDN, and with good reason. Yet, the thing we see as users and donors to Mozilla is Pocket, FirefoxOS, an idiotic VPN and other pointless project. Thunderbird can apparently just roll over and die for all the Mozilla Corp. cares.

What annoys me with Mozilla, again as much as I love Firefox and the spirit of Mozilla, is that the corporate leadership seems to ignore the project that works. New focus my ass, Mozilla needs to refocus on Firefox. Maybe you do, but it certainly doesn't seem like it from the outside.

Firefox is the leading browser right now. Chrome isn't even close, yet corporate Mozilla seems to have forgotten about it, it's never a highlight in Mozilla Corp. communications, but it should be.


> Firefox is the leading browser right now. Chrome isn't even close

In what sense? Feature set, user experience, security, stability, performance, developer experience?

Genuinely curious. I switched from Chrome last year and have yet to find a single aspect in which I’d say Firefox would lead, with the exception of privacy.


Crash safety. If Chrome crashes, you get one single, short lived pop up to restore your tabs. If you miss it or can't click it for some reason, though luck.

Firefox, on the other hand, will simply always reopen your tabs and prompt you, in case the crash was its fault. In fact, losing ~50 open tabs in Chrome was what made me switch.


The tabs are still there even if you miss the prompt. Either press Ctrl-Shift-T, or select the three dots => History and the tabs are there, under the "Recently closed" section. The caveat is that you have to restore the tabs before you've browsed enough pages that the tabs are pushed out of the recently closed tabs. Also, I simulate Chrome crashing by sending SIGSEGV signal to it, but I'm pretty sure this applies even if Chrome crashes for real.


There are several URLs to crash Chrome in various ways, listed at the bottom of chrome://chrome-urls


For a lot of crashes (mostly due to X bugs - I have an "interesting" setup) I couldn't find those tabs in recently closed. I'll try to simulate it and maybe open a bug report; if it's only in my case this might be less of a general issue than I thought.


As a user it feels like all of the major browsers have been good enough for quite a while now. Is there anything other than bug fixes and performance improvements happening in that space these days?


Well we are seeing major browsers limit control in recent updates, so that's the new major browser race it seems. Safari and Chrome are locking down what you can do with extensions, which limits what you can do to protect your privacy online.


web standards are always evolving and updating. A lot of users don't appreciate that it's happening but it is. Firefox and Chrome do a pretty good job of keeping up. Chrome also adds a lot of proprietary additions to push the envelope as well as differentiate Chrome as well.


> A lot of users don't appreciate that it's happening but it is.

That kind of backs up what I was saying, doesn't it? The browsers are good enough for most of the users most of the time and the new features matter to fewer and fewer people.


Render consistency.

I was doing automated image capture of some data sites and diffing them to see if they changed. Chrome would jitter. Firefox drew the same bits every time.


> Firefox is the leading browser right now. Chrome isn't even close...

Source? Based on which criteria? If you have even the slightest belief in the wisdom of the crowds, you'll realize that there must be something really appealing in Chrome which has resulted in its 68% market share. Compare that to Firefox's 7%.[0]

[0]: https://netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx


There's no secret sauce to chrome. It's single super power which made it the standard for non-tech users is googles ability to slap a bar on every single one of their sites telling users to use chrome. Google told them, so that's what they did. End of story.


I don't think that's the whole story. Chrome was more user friendly from the beginning. It took FF years to drop the rigid, Windows XP style UI and become more user friendly. At the same time, FF doesn't offer the same level of syncing your data across all your devices like Chrome does. And when it comes to system resources, say what you want about Chrome's tab memory management, but FF on macOS is not a pleasant experience either (extensive CPU usage and heating problems).

I have tried to switch back to FF (and even to Edge), but every time I realize Chrome - despite all its problems - is a much smoother experience. YMMV.


Chrome also used A LOT to shady patters to get installed as a default browser on windows, mostly using third-party installers of unrelated software.

it's a shame, really.


In the early day every driver CD and a large portion of online installers had chrome bundled and pushed. Pretty sure almost every preinstalled system also had chrome. If I don't miss remember, even game installers occasionally pushed chrome. It was very noticeable and I remember quite well the annoyance of having to go to advanced setting and unselect chrome several times during reinstalls of windows 7.

They did have a different memory profile (might still have one in macos, I wouldn't know since I don't use mac), and the UI is each to ones own, but I few programs outside of AOL installers has been as pushy as chrome during the beginning.


User friendliness was not the problem. Neither was the XP style.


It's not withering away because of minor mistakes; it's withering away because of major mistakes. Those mistakes are largely in corporate governance -- this is the reason so many are furious about the $2.5MM salary for a CEO at the helm of a market-share death spiral. Every single product line except Firefox is an also-ran from a revenue standpoint. How does Baker respond? Fire the Servo team, and tell an interviewer there will be a focus on (among other niche services) a "VR chat hub." Oh, and any salary reduction for executives is 'a burden.' (https://twitter.com/lizardlucas42/status/1293232090985705478)

All this from an organization with the audacity to solicit donations from end-users.

So no, I would not say Mozilla has learned anything or worked to prevent it happening again. What has changed since the January layoffs except for the scale of the layoffs? In no world is running a company such that you have to boot a quarter of your workforce 'minor mistakes.'

The silver lining is that Mozilla's race to receivership won't make much of a difference. They haven't done much for web standards beyond co-signing Google's railroading of the standards bodies, and they couldn't even stand up for video or DRM standards either. Every download of Firefox ships Google Analytics, installer stubs for Cisco and Google video blobs, and a configuration that shunts your DNS lookups to yet a third private corporation. With friends like Mozilla, who needs enemies?

In short, the organization is utterly rudderless (and has been for nearly a decade), incapable of supporting itself without search engine subsidies, and not achieving any of the ideological goals it espouses. What we're witnessing now is what happens when you can no longer coast on branding. What's down this road, after some deck-chair rearranging, will be cessation of operation of the for-profit arm and a new direction for the non-profit arm, which might survive that. Time will tell.


Best comment of the thread. Well done. I strongly agree.

Aside: That linked salary reduction comment is also pretty damned tone deaf. oof. I imagine having to find a new job because of major systemic mismanagement is also a burden!


The argument for DRM is that it ships in a sandbox built by Mozilla.

But hey, I'm sure that if Mozilla didn't ship DRM, video codecs, etc, the browser would have been more popular.

Firefox is actually useful.

DNS lookups are safer with a provider vetted by Mozilla. They were able to negotiate a contract you wouldn't have been able to get. Ensuring you more privacy.

But sure bash Mozilla for trying to be pragmatic, privacy and features is not a trivial thing to balance.


> The argument for DRM is that it ships in a sandbox built by Mozilla.

Actually, I was long since wondering how exactly that sandbox works, so if you have some more information about that, I'd appreciate it.

Henri Sivonen's general explanation of EME and CDMs[1] tells the following:

> A CDM could be bundled with the browser, downloaded separately, bundled with the operating system, embedded in hardware as firmware running in a second domain of computing (such as ARM TrustZone) or wired into hardware. EME leaves this aspect implementation-dependent. [...]

EME does not specify the output abstraction for CDMs. It leaves open several options. The CDM could:

- Merely perform decryption and hand back the encoded media (e.g. H.264) to the browser.

[...]

- Perform decryption and decoding and then work together with the GPU so that not even the operating system gets the opportunity to read the pixels back from the GPU.

Meanwhile, Mozilla's implementation of EME seems to be substantially more restrictive[2]:

> Firefox does not load [the CDM] directly. Instead, we wrap it into an open-source sandbox. In our implementation, the CDM will have no access to the user’s hard drive or the network. Instead, the sandbox will provide the CDM only with communication mechanism with Firefox for receiving encrypted data and for displaying the results.

[...]

in Firefox the sandbox prohibits the CDM from fingerprinting the user’s device. Instead, the CDM asks the sandbox to supply a per-device unique identifier.

However, if the sandbox works as explained, the DRM seems to be trivially defeatable: I can simply fork Firefox and modify the sandbox, so it lies to the CDM about the fingerprinting and/or captures the decrypted media stream and writes it to a file - so then, how did Mozilla get Hollywood to agree on this?

On the other hand, if the CDM has some means to verify that Firefox has not been tampered with, then it can escape the sandbox - so then, what is the point of the sandbox?

[1] https://hsivonen.fi/eme/ [2] https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/05/reconciling-mozillas-missi...


Yeah, giving another 3rd party user data ensures the users more privacy.

You have some kind of doublethink going on there.


Mozilla can't build every service on the internet. Trying would be futile.

But they can collectively bargain on their users behalf.


Particularly excellent reference on the salary tweet. Yikes. You've hit several nails directly on the head, so to speak.


Mozilla (the for profit subsidiary) received $436 million from search deals in 2018 [0].

Your CEO took home more than $2.3M and your treasurer (who only worked 6 months) $1.2M in 2017 [1].

Why don't you hold these people to very high standards?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation#Google [1] https://assets.mozilla.net/annualreport/2017/mozilla-2017-fo...


To a large degree Mozilla is given equal treatment to other companies who is struggling financially. People are emotionally (and some economically) invested in Mozilla, and the announcement are clearly not calming those investors.

A common pattern I see when companies are struggling is that the refocus back on the core product. They cut side projects, they move away from what ever broad vision plan that got them into the current mess and refocus narrowly back to a handful profit earning core products.

The reaction to Mozillas announcement would likely look very different if instead of talking about go beyond the browser into a different world they would had done the opposite and refocused efforts exclusively to the handful of products that bring the core of users to Mozilla. Such announcement would clam people and make them hopeful that firefox would gain a strong competitive edge in a time where chrome only get older, slower, more privacy invasive and heavier practitioner of dark patterns. Some would naturally complain that their pet side project would be discontinued, and there would likely be people lamenting the loss of the advocacy work, but users would understand that sometimes a company need to go back to the core product in hard times.


My standards for Mozilla are:

1) Make a good browser. Get market share. Use it to push the envelope for what can be done on the web.

2) Respect user privacy.

3) Don't spam me with push notifications, in-browser advertising, or any other marketing communications unless it helps goals 1 or 2.

4) Don't spend most of your money on projects that aren't your browser.

Mozilla keeps getting into partnerships that send data to third parties, advocating for things that have nothing to do with browsers or the internet, investing money into every new trend[0][1], and not focusing on their core selling point: a browser that's fast, safe, privacy-focused, extensible, standards-compliant, and stops Google from acquiring a total monopoly over browsers so they can remove adblockers.

This press release hints that they're going to continue tilting at windmills: their new direction is "diverse, representative, focused on people outside of our walls, solving problems, building new products, engaging with users and doing the magic of mixing tech with our values." They're "a technical powerhouse of the internet activist movement", and rather than donors who support their browser, there are "hundreds of thousands of people who donate to and participate in Mozilla Foundation’s advocacy work". I read this as "we're going to spend time and money on things that are not Firefox".

I haven't donated to them for years, because I'm sick of seeing their money go to projects that don't integrate with Firefox and won't ever reach a significant number of consumers while they bleed market share, or to American-centric policy advocacy that also doesn't relate to the internet. I don't think this is an unrealistic expectation, because there's no way in hell I'd donate to Google or any of their competitors in the first place. Hopefully their lay-offs are an opportunity to focus their efforts on providing a browser across all platforms and adding features to that browser.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mozilla_products#Aband... [1] everything involving VR on https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/products


>4) Don't spend most of your money on projects that aren't your browser.

Web browsing is much more than a browser now, it's outside of browser tracking, like Facebook and Google pinging your ip address. It's hiding your email from spammers and email traders. Sharing links outside of browser and being able to read them offline. Controlling browser habits with voice.

Mozilla offers paid service that do such things. It all works towards your second goal - respecting your privacy.


Okay, I've changed my mind [1]. Your comment is the one I give 1000x endorsement to.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24127377


I don't hold Mozilla to higher standards. I just expect Mozilla to make a decent browser. Firefox is not a decent browser anymore compared to its competition. Its performance and security is lagging severely behind Chrome, and it doesn't really respect privacy any more than Chrome does in its default configuration. Pretty much the only two advantages it has right now are containers, and the fact that it's not Chrome. The former matters a lot less now that the newest version of Cookie AutoDelete can remove cache and indexedDB per-domain.

The one thing that could save it, Servo, doesn't seem to be a priority. Instead, Mozilla seems to be focusing on offering cloud services that nobody wants or cares about, which also don't really respect privacy any more than other cloud services. The only significant revenue stream Mozilla has is through Firefox, which keeps steadily losing users and market share.

And even that is almost entirely dependent on people using Google search with the browser. Given that Google is Mozilla's primary competitor who has intentionally broken their apps on Firefox and is pushing them down in search results, and that Firefox is marketing itself to privacy-conscious people who wouldn't use Google anyway, it doesn't seem wise or sustainable at all.

Unless things seriously change, I have no faith that they'll be able to turn this situation around. We may just have to live with a Blink/WebKit web monoculture until we get some serious anti-trust legislation.


> Its performance and security is lagging severely behind Chrome

Citation needed. I've been using for a while and it is leaps and bounds better than what it was. I haven't fired up Chrome in months now.


Can confirm. I made the switch to Chrome in its early days when Firefox couldn't touch its performance, but switched back to Firefox around a year or so ago since Chrome could no longer touch Firefox's performance. It really has come a long way since the days most people seem to be remembering.


> Its performance and security is lagging severely behind Chrome, and it doesn't really respect privacy any more than Chrome does in its default configuration.

The first two points haven’t been true for years and the second is debatable - Firefox’s tracking protection certainly seems to be more effective.

The problem for Mozilla is that this doesn’t matter enough: Firefox feels faster than Chrome, but both are fine in normal use and your web browsing experience will be most affected by the site you’re using needing a ton of JavaScript rather than the browser. Similarly, their developer tools have a bunch of nice features but the developer experience is pretty decent in every browser so it’s not a distinguishing factor the way it used to be.

Browsers have been commodified and that’s the core of Mozilla’s business while Google has a ton of ad revenue to support Chrome no matter what happens.


If you're on the Firefox team (or know anyone who is) please encourage them to make Firefox customisable again.

It gets worse with every updated. More options are stripped back in favour of "simplicity".

Firefox made a name for itself by giving users control to make it their own browser; saying it has become a "clone of Chrome" is clichéd now, but that doesn't change the fact that it's true.

Firefox needs to stop chasing the Chrome user base and build back a user base of its own.


I believe it's based on Chrome/Chromium to some degree (pretty sure it uses Blink) so I understand if it isn't something you're interested in given the topic of this thread, but the Vivaldi browser is insanely customizable.


You get flogged for things for-profit companies don't because Mozilla claims the moral high ground and then leaves something to be desired in its actions and results. The rather dodgy non-profit/for-profit hybrid while effective from a business standpoint, doesn't help your cause: while originally presented as the for-profit serving the non-profit, the reality appears to be the other way around.


> while originally presented as the for-profit serving the non-profit, the reality appears to be the other way around.

Would you care to elaborate?


IIRC, the stated purpose of the formation of the foundation and corporation was to primarily fund the development of the/a browser product. Over the last 10 years, the corporation has taken in several billion dollars which should have been enough to fund a sizeable fraction of annual cash needs in perpetuity (i.e. don't spend it as you get it, invest it as various endowments/trusts do so that you have an annual revenue stream to fund the project on an ongoing basis) anticipating that the large cash payments from search engines weren't going to last forever.

Unfortunately, rather than doing that, it appears most of the money has been spent on various misadventures and expanding staff to consume the funds taken in which now apparently has to be scaled back. So now we get to read this blog post which reads like any number of VC-backed startups needing to pivot to find a business model. Mozilla has one, if it would just stop spending money going off on all these tangents and focus on what I suspect the vast majority of us want from it: the best possible browser. If we get to a point where browsers are no longer relevant, then frankly neither is Mozilla. It's shown minimal aptitude for things other than browsers, and supporting tech, which it unfortunately doesn't seem terribly interested in focusing on.


When the parent command asked/goaded for elaboration I was worried you wouldn't notice or respond, but you did and clarified in depth, saying precisely what a lot of us are thinking. Thank you for doing so.


Non-profit doesn’t mean non-revenue, so there’s nothing dodgy about them trying to sell a few things. Nothing “hybrid” about it.


I think the issue is multifold, but basically from what I've seen (including having multiple friends at Mozilla and visited their HQ multiple times), Mozilla is run exactly like any other Silicon Valley company.

Sure, there is no shareholders so there is this freedom, but people working there were basically hired after working in other tech companies, and they just work as they did in other tech companies. The fact that Mozilla Corporation is owned by a non-profit seems to be completely lost. Basically people are paid to improve metrics, whether it's the number of users, the ARPU, the "engagement" on whatever features they decided was important...

Add to that the fact that Firefox lagged technically behind Chrome for many years (it only recently cought up with Quantum) and UX wise also Firefox was stuck on the "IE6 but with tabs" look and feel and waited many years before accepting that the UX introduced by Chrome when it was released was superior.

As a result, now that casual users are on Chrome and the Firefox user base is mostly made of users who choose Firefox not because of its technical merits but because it's Open Source, supported by a non-profit, etc. There is a disconnect between that user base and the Mozilla Corporation who just thinks like any other SV company.


So you think Mozilla would be better if it wasn't run like a tech company? How should it be run instead? Why should they not be using metrics to measure the impact of what they do? It's not obvious to me that running it less like a tech company and more like a non-profit (whatever that means) would work better.


Well, that would explain why they are seemingly ignoring the Firefox power user and fan community, that got them where they are in the first place by free marketing and advocacy.

Looks like we dont fit their badly selected metric. :P


Surely the option to have tabs organized vertically on the side of the windows instead of stuck crowded to uselessness on top can be considered as a technical merit.


> before accepting that the UX introduced by Chrome when it was released was superior

Both UX are still below Old Opera. Firefox is closer but still falls short.


I don't mind any of Mozilla's mistakes. Like you say: Mozilla is exemplary when it comes to getting things right when they screw up.

What I mind is that I can't take Mozilla seriously at all.

They keep trying new projects. I laugh every time because I know it will be gone in six to twelve months.

Right now Mozilla is offering VPN service. Theoretically, I am the ideal customer. I care about privacy and security and make good money and have been a devoted Firefox user for nearly 20 years -- ever since Phoenix 0.2! And I trust Mozilla 100x more than the competition.

But I've never even glanced at that service. Why? So I can have the rug pulled out from me in six months? lol.

For me to take any non-Firefox project from Mozilla seriously, I'd need to hear some kind of commitment from Mozilla to supporting it for the long haul.


> So I can have the rug pulled out from me in six months?

This reasoning is silly and bizarre. What, exactly, is the massive risk you're taking when you use a VPN that could go away at some point? Not only is a VPN a commodity that many other service providers can easily fill if the worst was to happen, Mozilla's VPN is just a rebrand of Mullvad which would be a cinch to switch to.

So much for trusting Mozilla and caring about privacy and security. Evidently, the potential risk of losing a cheap & convenient VPN app is a far bigger issue! /s


You are factually correct, of course - of all their random, scattered efforts, the "cost" of finding another VPN provided and switching to it is not large.

I still disagree greatly with your conclusions.

    What, exactly, is the massive risk you're 
    taking when you use a VPN that could go away at some point?
I didn't say it was "massive." I

In reality, the cost to me would be "only" a few hours of research to find a suitable alternative if/when Mozilla folds their VPN service.

Still, like most people, I rely on a lot of software and a lot of services in my life. I work many hours per week. I don't like to spend my limited free time fixing crap and making lateral jumps to alternative things and services if I can help it, unless there's some sizable advantage. If I had to spend an hour or three on everything in my life every six months, it would add up to a lot and I choose to spend the finite hours of my life differently.

    So much for trusting Mozilla and caring about privacy and security.
This doesn't follow. Mozilla has a history of introducing and subsequently shuttering many services, so therefore I don't care about "privacy and security?"

For whatever it's worth: I care deeply about Mozilla (and privacy and security) and I do support them financially via donations.


> I do support them financially via donations

As someone else mentioned, apparently this goes to the Foundation which funds other social causes instead of the Corporation that develops Firefox. Donations won't actually help Firefox much at all. To support the Corporation directly, you'd need to pay for one of their paid products like Pocket or their new VPN.

> This doesn't follow. Mozilla has a history of introducing and subsequently shuttering many services, so therefore I don't care about "privacy and security?"

It follows like this: here's a great privacy & security product you claim is "ideal" for you, made by a company you "trust 100x more than the competition". But it's somehow not worth it to you as someone who cares about privacy & security?

The speculative risk of a couple of hours every year (but in practice, more like 20 mins to switch to Mullvad, which even if you didn't know about before, you know now) is more valuable than what appears to be - by your own words - one of the best privacy & security products to come along in a generation?

Empty praise. Deep concerns for privacy & security that are conveniently not reflected in product choices. Honestly, it's a mystery why Mozilla devs even try to cater to this crowd. They talk up a storm about caring about privacy & security yet when a great product comes around, there's always another reason not to use it. Always another reason why it doesn't measure up. With friends like these, who needs enemies.


You're making a number of factually incorrect assumptions with a sprinkling of reading comprehension errors here.

    you'd need to pay for one of their paid products 
    like Pocket 
I do. Was using it already when Firefox acquired it.

    It follows like this: here's a great privacy & 
    security product you claim is "ideal" for you
Re-read. I didn't say that.

    appears to be - by your own words - one of the 
    best privacy & security products to come along 
    in a generation?
Those were most certainly not my words.

    more like 20 mins to switch to Mullvad, which 
    even if you didn't know about before, you know now
Wait, is this a revolutionary product, or a mere rebrand of a good existing service that happens to support a worthwhile brand? Make up your mind.

    Deep concerns for privacy & security that are conveniently 
    not reflected in product choices. 
I'm no special talent, but you are spectacularly and offensively off-base.

I do support them with product choices, and also with thousands of hours of my time as a web developer over the years, always fighting to support Firefox in the projects I worked on, even when the product owners could not have cared less or were openly hostile to the idea of spending any time whatsoever supporting something that wasn't IE6 or Chrome.

I will not ship web-facing code that doesn't support Firefox.

   With friends like these, who needs enemies. 
I'm no special talent, but god damn. I'm not a friend of Firefox - I'm a warrior fighting for them in the trenches every day.

Hope someday I have "enemies" who spend a few thousand hours in the trenches for me over two decades and also throw money my way. Wouldn't mind an army of those.

If it makes you feel any better, I'll probably support their VPN product too eventually if it actually survives their terminal ADHD.


I didn't say it was revolutionary, and it doesn't need to be revolutionary to be a product ideal for you, from a company you find more trustworthy than any other - those appear to be your adjectives, it only follows that this means it's a great privacy & security product for which those are fairly critical qualities. Insult my reading comprehension if I'm wrong, but I might even say those qualities make it the "best" for you.

Good for you that you're really enthusiastic about Firefox usage, that's not my point. My point is that it's quite empty and valueless to dismiss a product like the VPN because you're afraid it might go away despite its apparent quality.

You did say you've never even glanced at the VPN for that reason, and given that Mozilla is apparently refocusing its efforts on paid products like those, an army of users who won't even glance at their products regardless of quality is increasingly useless. Especially if Mozilla experiments with potentially great products, which involves killing bad ones, quite frustrating to see a "will it be there in 6 months" attitude kill any apparent interest.

Edit: not sure it'd help, but an analogy might be: imagine I told you I care deeply about chicken dishes, chicken is my favorite, I choose what to eat based on whether they have chicken, I'm a chicken warrior! You make a high quality chicken dish, and then I say "it looks great, if I ate it I'll probably enjoy it, but I can't even try it. What if you drop it on the floor while serving it to me? What if the dog eats it while I'm digging in?". Would you think my complaint is sincere? I don't know, I've evidently spent too much time pointlessly arguing about this.


Personally I’m excited to switch to the Mozilla branded VPN. I expect it will be a good try at a VPN service, and it will hopefully be a way for them to make a bit of extra money. If it fails, it fails and I’ll pick another.

There are companies launching on HN and employing people on HN all the time. Those companies may or may not survive the long haul. I don’t see how I can sensibly demand more of a promise from the software and services that I buy, vs. what we (collectively) promise to our own users or customers.


Maybe they no longer just blindly copy Chrome but now also general Google behavior as well ? They also shut down recently started services at random.


Those standards and the faith in their adhering to them are _all Mozilla has_. I use Firefox on all my devices, even mobile, but it's hard to argue that on a pure tech perspective, Chrome is the superior browser.

The reason I use Firefox is I still trust Mozilla more than Google, but the more Mozilla erodes that, the less they have to offer - the browser is not improving technically at the same rate Mozilla is diminishing reputationally.


> One thing that always frustrates me a bit whenever Mozilla comes up on HN or elsewhere is that we are always held to impossibly high standards. Yes, as a non-profit, we should be held to higher standards, but not impossible standards.

Standards for Mozilla do not come alone from being an NGO, but from the promises Mozilla makes and the history. Breaking promises and forgetting it's origin seems to be the main source of hate against mozilla, besides of course the fails themself.

> Did we apologize?

Nope.

> Did we learn anything?

Nope.

> Did we work to prevent it happening again?

Nope. But some were even repeated.

> Mozilla is such an important voice in shaping the future of the internet.

Is this still a thing? I get the impression that mozilla today has just become a small unimportant voice, mostly just following the choral. Even Microsoft seems to be now stronger in that regard.


Only one thing lingers in my mind about Mozilla.

When Brendan Eich was made CEO, Mozilla employees did everything possible to make sure that he wouldn’t stay; all due to a single political donation from six years beforehand.

While I don’t agree with his position, the whole fiasco tarnished Mozilla and the people in it, at least in my mind.

Far from being held to an impossible standard, I feel like it suffered from a form of monoculture.


Firstly, it was _not_ a single political donation.

I'm Jewish. If it came out that the new CEO of my company made white supremacist statements half a decade ago, without any indication they had changed their position since, you better believe I would refuse to continue working for that company until and unless they were no longer CEO.

This isn't a disagreement about the marginal tax rates to apply to millionaires, or a political difference about some minutiae of government regulation. Prop. 8 was directly opposed to the basic human rights of a segment of the population. Why would I, as a gay person, work for someone who seeks to deny me the basic right of an equal-under-the-law domestic partnership? Why would I, as a person with gay friends, overlook something like that, just because the CEO gives vague promises of being "supportive and welcoming" without actually disavowing any of their discriminatory viewpoints?

Human rights are not a political position, and opposing them is not simply a friendly disagreement. No one is obligated to tolerate your attempts to deny people basic human rights in the name of inclusiveness.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Eich#Appointment_to_CE...


This seems like a "my way or the highway" or "black and white" argument, coached in language suggesting that you don't need to make inroads for peace, for the sole reason that your side is inherently right and theirs is inherently wrong. This idea of firing or ostracizing people without attempting to reform them first is a shoot first, ask questions later, knee-jerk sort of morality.

If you end someone's means of making a living or ostracize them from society, purely for moralistic reasons, just because you can, this is moral exclusion, a form of oppression. It's when your opinion of them is so poor that you no longer find the need to act ethically towards them. It's the same principle that enabled the oppression of the the Jews.

Holding this opinion is possible if you refuse to come to terms with the humanity of the person you disagree with. Our only real "obligation" in society is to follow the law. If you only live based on this obligation, you can easily become quite cruel and in some ways immoral. But instead of simply living by obligation, we can do better: we can seek to create more peace than strife. That means making inroads with your enemy, not ostracizing them just because you can.


Nobody ended Eich's means of making a living, ostracized him from society, or denied his humanity. He remained Mozilla's CTO after his donation became widely known in 2012. There wasn't any significant protest until he was promoted to CEO in 2014. He wasn't fired and still reprimands people who say he was. He's been another browser company's CEO since 2015.

Eich probably could've defused the situation if he just apologized. Instead he wouldn't even say he wouldn't do it again.[1]

People didn't refuse to follow Eich just because they could. They didn't even refuse to follow him just because he hurt people. They refused to follow him because he still thought what he did was right 6 years later.

Jews were oppressed because of who they were. Eich faced a choice because of what he did.

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/mozilla-ceo-gay-marriage-firestorm...


Yes, but what was that thing he did? Voting: acting in accordance with the law. By pressuring him to resign, he was basically told that his actions within the law were immoral, unacceptable, and harmful.

Eich had a choice to save himself: renounce his views. Of course the Jews were not given a choice during the Holocaust. But as a different example, they were given a choice to renounce their faith during the Spanish Inquisition.

Clearly it's ridiculous for me to compare being burned alive to being corporately run out on a rail. Yet the choices offered, from a moral standpoint, were similar. Choose to renounce who you are and what you've done and you can stay a good member of society; stand your moral ground and be persecuted. In either case, the crime was not violating the Law of the State, but the moral law of a certain majority of society.

How do we judge if we are being treated justly? Is the law always just? Are actions outside the scope of law always just? In truth, this is often subject to the time and place. Even today, we sometimes treat people unjustly within the scope of the law. That's why I suggest ethics that do not hang it's treatment of people on the power to act from personal morality alone.

I think rather than say "repent or be shunned", other tactics could lead to changing the subject's mind or actions. Or even accepting that exiling the person does not change much materially about the world. They'll still be the same person in exile, doing the same things, so what was the benefit personally or to society of removing them from the group?

If the "harm done" was merely to the emotional peace of the part of the group that has to come to terms with the morality of people acting within the law, this seems like a reason to keep the person. Because again, even if working outside Mozilla, Eich may vote the same, so the "harm" from a legal standpoint against gay marriage is unmoved either way. The only effect of the backlash was purely to the emotional peace of either (and to the overall quality of life of Eich). Keeping them could at least allow a rapport to form and possibly change views, on either side, without causing further harm. But this is just one case, so this may not work in other examples.


Your comparisons are patently ridiculous. Jews were persecuted for personal beliefs that hurt no one and affected none but themselves; this is very much not the case for Brendan Eich, whose views and actions were explicitly intended to take away rights from others.

Moreover, the Spanish Inquisition acted on the power of royal decrees, so they very much enforced laws of the state, which means your example falls flat even on its most basic premise.

You seem to either misunderstand or misrepresent the point of the protests against Brendan Eich. Mozilla employees weren't trying to abridge his rights to free speech or to vote according to his beliefs, they simply didn't want to follow a person actively working towards making their lives measurably worse for no good reason. Of course getting him to resign doesn't make him change his voting; that was never the point! Brendan Eich isn't a child, and people's main objective isn't to discipline him and make him understand what he did wrong- it's to limit his damage! Why allow someone to infect an organization you care about and depend on with their toxic beliefs? Again, a CEO's biases don't amount to a hurtful code comment; they are steering the entire company culture!


So, I definitely got that part of the Inquisition wrong. The persecution and technically-not-forced-but-basically-forced conversions (conversos) happened about a century (1391) before the actual "Spanish Inquisition" kicked off (1483). The latter, with the papal bull by Sixtus IV granting the Castilian Crown permission, enacted a state-sponsored Inquisition. Before this it wasn't (to my knowledge) a part of state law, but more of an explosion of moralistic/religious mob frenzy. So the "real Spanish Inquisition" seems to have happened long after Jews were forced to convert. In any case, it was a poor argument on my part.

I agree with you that the leadership does set the culture and tone for the company. But I also believe that forcing leaders to transmute their personal lives into the moral symbol of an amorphous corporate entity is somewhat inhumane. Do we have to only have leaders who lead pious, uncontroversial personal lives? Isn't there a balance to strike between this person's personal and work life?

Famously, Steve Jobs was an asshole. Jeff Bezos is another asshole. There's undoubtedly been other asshole leaders of companies. As leaders, they set their company's cultures. But where is the moral outrage asking them to step down from causing harm to their employees? You read about them in many books and blogs - terrified employees, managers making bad decisions out of fear, difficult work/life balance. And yet, if you look at the actual moral outrage from the tech world, this is business as usual. But it's harmful! On the scales of moral justice, it would seem terrorizing your workforce can be okay, depending on the form it takes.

This is another stupid, poor comparison on my part, but I'm trying (in vain probably) to get at this: what is considered "beyond the pale" of harm probably is not based on some kind of measurable outcome, but rather what gets people more angry - specifically the anger rooted in moral exclusion. In addition I'm saying that it's possible that keeping people around, regardless of their questionable personal ethics, might not be a cultural catastrophe.

I've worked with many people over the years, some of them in positions of leadership with controversial views. But the company culture encouraged open and honest communication, and its strength helped people have the occasional difficult conversation in an open way without it becoming a toxic working environment. That's certainly not always possible. But it was proof enough to me that by sticking by these people, we could eventually explain and help open up the thoughts of someone who would go on to lead others.

Another argument could be made that even following someone who's making one's life worse may have, in the grand scheme, a greater-good impact. One example might be Mozilla fighting for Internet... whatever it fights for, and another might be the power of the supply chain to provide cheaper goods (Amazon, Wal-Mart) or an alternative platform for creative work (Apple). So there may be reasons (excuses?) for following a leader who is making your life hell. You'd have to ask those employees why they do it. I do it because one coal mine is as good as the next. I suppose if you want to keep the most coal miners doing the most work you need a mine boss that inspires them, so a mine boss that nobody likes and doesn't inspire great work is probably worth chucking. But if the workers can put the boss out of their mind and still get their work done, who really cares about the mine boss? At what point can/should we stop focusing on individual morality and instead focus on practicality? Maybe that's a dangerous direction in itself.


In addition to everything pseudalopex said below, which I agree with 100%, I'll just add that, yes, some things absolutely are and should be black-and-white, my-way-or-the-highway. Particularly, issues of human- and civil-rights.

The opposition to Eich was not because of some unpopular opinion he held at some vague point in the past. He wanted to ban same-sex marriage in 2008, and all indications are he still wanted that in 2014. Eich had ample chance to easily diffuse the situation by clarifying his beliefs; instead, he provided vague platitudes about inclusiveness and leaving his personal opinions at the door.

I'm sure there's plenty of companies that wouldn't mind having an anti-gay-marriage CEO. Hell, most people could stomach working with someone with those views; remember Eich was chief technologist and a Mozilla board member from the start, and CTO from 2005, which Mozilla's LGBTQ employees obviously tolerated. But I'm sorry, I have very little trust that a company can maintain a certain set of values, when I know for a fact its Chief Executive Officer holds diametrically opposite views. Management shapes every aspect of a company, so the personal opinions of the person holding the highest position in that chain matter.

There is nothing unethical about acting this way. This is not denying Brendan Eich his humanity (unlike what his views do to others). Being CEO of Mozilla is not a basic human right that he is being denied.


If a society is to be tolerant, there has to be a separation between when someone is politically active; and when someone decides to take matters into their own hands (e.g., firing someone because they’re trans).

Maybe you’re right that a CEO is different, but the ordeal left me with an uneasy feeling.

If I’m on the wrong side of the popular-opinion in the future, what’s to stop me from being ostracized and pushed out?

Because if it can happen up high, you better believe that it can happen to the rank and file.

Yea, there’s a tension and it’s almost contradictory to allow this but I think it’s important.

The other consequence of this is that anonymity (voting, for example) seems to be just as relevant today.


You've got it backwards- the rank and file are held to much different standards than upper management. As a Sw. Engineer, or even a team lead, my opinions are indeed my own, as long as they don't negatively impact my work; as a CEO, his opinions shape the direction of the company; this isn't something you can just leave at the door, no matter how much you claim otherwise.

Again, this isn't just about an unpopular opinion or a difference of perspective. We're talking about literally denying human beings their civil rights. Where do you draw the line with this? Do I need to accept a person who works towards racial segregation? Is a Nazi acceptable, as long as they don't try to commit genocide on company time?

If you're ever on the wrong side of granting people basic human and civil rights, I hope you'll have the good sense to reconsider and change your position. I'm not sure why you believe anyone owes you acceptance of your views regardless of what they are.


What?

It’s always the rank-and-file who get fired if (somehow) their viewpoints are made public and it’s embarrassing. whereas anyone in power get a free pass because they built up a network of influence.

When it was taboo to be gay, why did Alan Turing get screwed, while nobles like Vita Sackville West did not?

More recently, Christian Cooper did not and does not want Amy Cooper (the infamous Central Park Karen) fired for what she did, because who wants a racist as their employee? Don’t you wonder why Christian Cooper didn’t want that, even though by all rights he should have felt differently?

As for where I draw the line: If it’s legal and it doesn’t affect business/work, then it’s something to tolerate.

If the person becomes disruptive, or can’t separate their personal views from working well with their colleagues then it’s time to part ways.

But then again, I trust people to fight the good fight so that things work out for the best and conclusively.

Finally, I definitely don’t appreciate you making assumptions about my views just because I find what happened worrisome. Your insinuations are a very short step from an irrational witch hunt and exactly why I find what happened worrisome.


Allowing other people to marry who they love is not an "impossible standard" to hold Brendan Eich to.


Nobody claimed that.


Impossibly high standards?

Like, not lying to users about data collection, not opting users into third-party products, not censoring add-ons for political reasons?

Gimme a break. The foundation is given a big break as it is, being tax-free. Then there is this huge greedy corporation bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars while resting its brand on the perceptions most users (outside of HN) have about Mozilla and Firefox being a non-profit thing in general.


Mozilla seems to continue a self-destructive path. Chrome/Edge already got the casual users, now Mozilla risks loosing its main userbase just so that they can take a taste of being popular again.

While I find the corporate speech slightly annoying this is not even close to being my main issue with Mozilla. I am more concerned with the complete disregard for privacy that Mozilla has (even if we ignore telemetry and the normandy backdoor that you need to fiddle in about:config to disable and you make sure to check for new about:config options in every update [some of them are even hidden by default!], there have been privacy issues reported on bugzilla for years that have gone ignored), along with limiting the options that the user has (no option to ignore hsts, userChrome.css being killed, webextensions being limited, etc), making rushed decisions (such as the move to webextensions before the api was mature enough for the extensions to move over), the lack of openness (despite being promised years earlier the pocket server code is still closed), the general disregard about their main project (some bugzilla issues in firefox are old enough to vote), wasting money on designers (the ui is fine and it has been fine for quite a while, it is as if they want to find ways to mess it up just so that they can justify their wages), and the lack of care given to less popular platforms (such as linux).

> Did we learn anything? Did we work to prevent it happening again?

It does not seem that way after the mr robot and pocket scandals. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23947681


> One thing that always frustrates me a bit whenever Mozilla comes up on HN or elsewhere is that we are a always held to impossibly high standards.

Yes, that is the name of the game. Isn't it? You are not a obscure project in GitHub. If you don't think so please move on. When you are a top Hollywood star you play the game of the stars. The same applies for sports or other high competitive activities. Chrome is here, show you deserve the place you are.


I've went through some of the comments on a german IT news site regarding this and it's been nothing but dissapointing.

People openly post that they'll switch to Chrome or Chrome-derivatives, as if that fixes things, because Mozilla allegedly is throwing away money by not 100% focusing on the browser.

Mozilla is the last company other than Apple maintaining an independent browser engine. Microsoft has given up as well.

If Mozilla and by Proxy the Firefox Project dies, the internet will become a darker place. The only hope would be that Microsoft ruins the Chrome browser via EEE (and in thise case, one of the instances where I hope they do) before Mozilla has to shutter.

People give Google an excuse for the billionth time they are caught exporting your medical history from chrome but if Mozilla makes a mistake, they're chastized for it.

It's disgusting how people treat Mozilla.


>OTOH, sometimes it just seems unreasonable and absurd. Stuff like, to paraphrase, "Look at the corporate doublespeak in that press release. Fuck Mozilla, I'm switching to Chrome." Really? That's what's got you bent out of shape?

One thing I've learned in my time as an engineer is that ultimately, the course and attitude of a company comes from the top. Thus, what upper management chooses to say is a great indicator of the health and direction of a company, especially to a non-employee or someone without other knowledge of the company. I can understand why people would react strongly to this latest missive from Mozilla - apparently, everything we like about Mozilla and Firefox is going to be dismantled to aid in the fight against systematic racism (and starting immediately with the mass layoff of the Servo team). Yes, this is enough to make me consider switching.


1. That's how Mozilla positioned itself. "We are so non-profit, non-evil and so better than others, because we think about ecosystem, rights and all the good stuff". You went after this high bar - you should comply with it.

2. Sounds logical: no one wants to get stuck with abandonware (or semi-abandonware). Browsers are the #1 by importance piece of software. Competitors in this field just HAVE TO keep up with the current state of things and global expectations/demand. If you don't - goodbye, then.

4. No, Mozilla never apologized for its mistakes properly. It doesn't even admit most of them. And it clearly didn't learn anything as it still is deaf to peoples opinions/expectations/feedback. Just as an example: take a look at your issue tracker and the managerial approach at what should gain the focus of developers. Issues live there unsolved for more than a _decade_. Mozillians don't care what people want, they work on things THEY are interested in. Or maybe in what their nutjob of a manager tells them to work on.

5. I was a firefox user since it's quite early days and it's Mozilla's actions that made me switch to Chromium. With Google Chrome (being the base for Chromium) I at least know what evilcorp Google is. And they do. They don't claim to be the defenders of the weak.


> Sure, Mozilla has made mistakes. Did we apologize? Did we learn anything? Did we work to prevent it happening again?

I genuinely do not know if this is rhetorical. My guess would be "no" to all the questions but it doesn't suit the narrative.

Maybe you think it's "yes"? Do you mind clarifying why?


Yeah, the loudest voice goes to the complainers. Most people are NOT sitting around demanding apologies from a non-profit that makes browsers... that's not normal.


I think being employee is putting you in a different perspective.

It's hard to escape news cycle, and when you apply what you see inside vs how it's presented publicly, you get angry. Understandably, as you twisted facts and cherry-picked details, just to support the narrative.

This is true about employees at many big companies. For - ask why people work at Google/Facebook, given all the horrible stuff you read about them? Reasons will be often similar - news cycle vs reality is very distorted and careful balances of tricky topics don't make catchy headlines.

Are those companies flawless? Hell no. Are they evil empires spending all their time figuring out how to steal candy from a baby? Also no.


We're not all blind to the trap certain Mozilla users (and certain Floss users in general) set up for authors who try to be sincere Floss players but naturally need to make real world compromises.

Just wanted to let you know I appreciate what you and Mozilla are doing, regardless of these certain purity-zeolots. May Mozilla live long!


I'm not sure that asking Mozilla not to couple commercial initiatives (like Pocket) with their browser platform product is setting a high standard. Surely you can see how taking that kind of stance actively erodes the company's reputation as a privacy-focused nonprofit.

Why can't a platform simply be a platform?


There is no company that gets a bigger pass on HN than Mozilla, are you kidding me?


No,

DRM, DNS over HTTPS, VPN, Pocket... Just to name a few.


> Mozilla is such an important voice in shaping the future of the internet

This is the primary reason why I choose Firefox over Chrome. Because Mozilla is the the world's Jon Snow against the world's white walkers (Google and co).

Mozilla needs to do whatever it needs to stay alive. We need more non-profit voices in the table not less


Whats got me bent out of shape is that your bosses fired the entire threat management team. That's why I'm spending hours switching to UnGoogled Chromium today.

So long Firefox and thanks for all the fish!


I switched from Chrome back to Firefox last year after a decade away and I am loving it. I dunno much about the internal politics at Mozilla (which seems to be a lot based on the little I do know) but I can say that Firefox is light years ahead of Chrome in terms of UX.


I'm still pissed about the Mr. Robot thing.


Straw man attacks.

People have only one standard: Build a good browser. Writing this from Firefox it is still a CPU and memory hog when you have 50+ tabs open.


For some reason reading that press release made we want to give money to Mozilla, and made me think about how important it is that there be more than one (all the chrome cousins are practically one) browser.

I do so hope Mozilla survives for many more years.


What you advertise your product as will always stick with people.

History Lesson. Back in the early 00's we all used IE and Proxomitron to block undesirable web elements. Firefox, Safari, and Netscape all existed, but IE6 was constantly forcing companies to break them.

Then, Firefox came out with Tabbed browsing and plugins, something that took IE years to catch up on. You could use adblock with firefox as early as I believe version 2 or 3 and that was very effective at blocking web advertising and undesriable elements as well as making the web more convenient to work with.

Then late 00's Google decided it wanted to be an advertising company, and its interest in Firefox changed and firefox was was pulled down the path of becoming an company selling advertising.

Today, they do things like quietly implimenting DNS in HTTPS, which we all know is aimed at ads and ad targeting. All while putting up cutsie pages with animated animals in them about their product with undertones about sticking it to the man.

The reason people flog you and your organization on the internet is they have very, very long memories and know what bullshit looks like.

Try forking firefox into a ruthlessly ad-removing, DRM abusing, secure, privacy protecting, enterprise quality version of what it is today with vastly simplified configuration options and sell it for $25 a year. Then you'll get some attention, otherwise, you're being paid to not compete.


Most people on HN (nee the world) don't think critically when they see a clickbait title / submission. I've worked for many companies that have been flogged by the users of public forums, without those users having the slightest idea what they are talking about. But being angry sure does feel right. (I am guilty of the same...)


I don't think you should read comments on the internet if vitriol gets to you. Users routinely threaten to switch to the competitor's product over trivial issues or conspiracy theories, but I've learned to ignore it because those users aren't going to be able to use any product for long if they're that sensitive.


to be fair, i am the redditor who mentioned to double speak, but i didn’t say fuck mozilla and im not switching to chrome.


Don't take the complaints literally. It's all very simple.

Chrome is the technically better product, despite privacy issues (sorry). Many techies want to switch to Chrome. But it's against their self-described ideology. So they find some fault with Mozilla - there always will be - and that's the excuse they need, regardless of what Chrome does. Mozilla should focus about making a better product and ignoring minor complaints.

That said, Mozilla is mismanaged. Always was. I remember back before Firefox when Mozilla was the example of a mismanaged open source effect. It didn't change that much. It's just that IE stagnated and Opera was barely known (despite being by far better), so a trimmed Firefox could surge. Once actual competition got going, it was obvious FF would be a small minority. Linux prospered by getting community contributions from interested companies. Mozilla never managed to get to that stage.


The 'Fuck mozilla' moment for me happened when Mozilla fired Brendan Eich for his personal and political opnions donations. Since then I have bothered very less about Mozilla.


>Sure, Mozilla has made mistakes. Did we apologize? Did we learn anything? Did we work to prevent it happening again?

Uh... no?


I don't hold Mozilla to higher standards. I regard Mozilla as being deeply sick, even by the standards of a non-profit. The Mozilla Corporation has three plagues.

First, the plague of Debian and the logjam breakers. Mozilla, like Debian, has many technical users with loud opinions and struggles to reach consensus. Debian suffers from this problem because it comes to consensus oh so very slowly - multiple competing packaging formats exist and hurt the community for decades. But, Mozilla has the worst result - "logjam breaker" executives come in, and, rather than pushing the technical leadership to make a reasonable technical decision based on the weighed factors, they break the logjam by encouraging the technical leaders to blindly imitate the competition. This problem is intractable - giving in to the Debianers means being mired in debate forever and making no or extremely slow progress; giving in to the suits means failing to innovate, becoming a clone of your competition, and eventually being forgotten. A true solution requires real technical leadership, something that's sorely lacking at Mozilla, or a different user base, which is not a possibility at Mozilla.

Second, the plague of Wikimedia. Non-technical leadership comes to dominate decisions about how to spending incoming donations from successful technical projects. Such leadership is often interested in hoping from the board of one non-profit to another. Much like Googlers are always interested in content for their next promotion form, such non profit executives are interested in bragging about the great projects they kicked off the ground. The results is a slew of failed and cancelled projects while the core project languishes.

Finally, the plague of social justice run amok. Most companies right now are on social justice kick and for the last few years. That's good; racism is bad, and tech could be a bit more welcoming. However, most companies understand where the lines are drawn. For example, Google executives don't release statements after employees die trashing the employee because of an underlying difference in personality and/or political views. Google also doesn't fire executives because of their political views or previous donations, when held privately, particularly when those political views are relatively common. Such actions have a chilling effect on recruitment and leads to technical talent that might otherwise have been interested in Mozilla (like myself) to permanently write it off.

I don't hold Mozilla to higher standards and I'm not mad about double speak. I'm mad that Mozilla is nasty, that is breaks well established liberal norms regarding political freedom, that it's executives waste my donations on resume lines for their next gig, and that it's technical leadership seems incapable of making balanced decisions other than imitation Google. But most of all, I'm mad that nobody at Mozilla can even see the problem (yourself included). Mozilla is deeply sick and needs to diagnose its own problems correctly, in order to begin remediating them. Until then, I'll regard it as a dying corporation and I'll look forward to the day when Mozilla finally dies and we can get started on the project of building a free web again by forking Chromium.


I don't want to invalidate what you've said, so please don't interpret my comment that way. I would encourage you to think a bit more about a few things:

> For example, Google executives don't release statements after employees die trashing the employee because of an underlying difference in personality and/or political views.

While I agree that it was probably a mistake for Mitchell to have made that post, I think that it also says something about Mozilla's culture that a lot of people outside of Mozilla do not quite grasp.

Mozilla throughout its history has been mostly "open by default." IMHO there was an attempt to change that in MoCo during the latter couple years of Chris Beard's tenure as CEO, but traditionally (and Mitchell, as a co-founder of Mozilla, very much comes from the traditional side) Mozilla has been very open.

As a consequence of this openness, sometimes things come out that, from the outside, look like airing of dirty laundry, because in just about any other organization, they would be. But notwithstanding a few NDA exceptions and the Community Participation Guidelines, Mozilla employees can identify themselves as such and blog about whatever they want without having to filter it through PR.

As you can see, this also raises a tension between "Mozilla should be more mindful about what its executives are saying online," vs "Mozilla is too corporate and should not be silencing its employees." There are people on both sides of that who will be upset, and again, no matter which side they're on, seem to always conclude, "Fuck Mozilla, I'm switching to Chrome!"

A more expansive NDA would obviously mitigate that, but Mozilla doesn't do things quite like Google or any of its other competitors.

> Google also doesn't fire executives because of their political views or previous donations, when held privately, particularly when those political views are relatively common.

There was a lot of poor reporting during the Brendan Eich affair. Personally I think that the stuff written by the WSJ was a hitpiece that contained multiple falsehoods, but those falsehoods stuck around and built up this narrative that still lives today. Having been there when it happened, the least inaccurate account of what happened was written by CNet's Stephen Shankland [1], IMHO. I suggest you read it.

Finally, the Brendan Eich thing happened over six years ago. Is this really something for which Mozilla should be repeatedly be attacked, ad infinitum? Personally I think that it is increasingly off-topic, yet any time Mozilla comes up on HN or elsewhere, I can pretty much guarantee that `Ctrl-F` `Brendan Eich` will turn something up. People just don't seem to be able to move on from that. I don't think that Mozilla's cause and the vast majority of the people who work there deserve to be punished because of that.

And since you mentioned Google, keep in mind that they are not saints without their own controversies. eg Andy Rubin.

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/mozilla-under-fire-inside-the-9-da...


Please don't worry about offending me / invalidating what I say - it's an internet forum, I don't take it that seriously. Please take my response in the same frame of mind.

Your defenses... aren't.

It's not airing the letter to the general public that was problematic. It's thinking that those are appropriate things to say out loud that's a problem. One of my coworkers passed from cancer a few years back. Frankly, a lot of people thought he was a real jerk before he passed. Nobody said bad things about him to people who knew him after he passed. Not internally, not publicly, not part of the carpool, not anonymously on blind, not even as a little joke after having a few drinks at the bar. Speaking ill of the dead is nasty. And it's mean. People who liked the deceased will overhear you and they'll go home later and cry and think about what people would say about them if they died and then cry more. Mitchell (? I don't remember who tbh) kicked a puppy and put it on YouTube and you're here with "Yes, Mozilla has a long history of putting the things it does on YouTube." It's not the publicity that's the problem - it's kicking the puppy in the first place!

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take from the CNET article. It wasn't really about gay marriage, it's because the board was indecisive and make a decision and then doubted themselves? So, it was just incompetent management? If you aren't sure about promoting somebody, don't promote them. Promoting somebody and then having them resign because you weren't sure is terrible. Mature corporations with competent leadership recognize that personnel decisions matter - that peoples' feeling are impacted when titles are granted and taken away - and make these decisions deliberately and carefully.

The Eich affair was the cause, but it's not the underlying problem. Mozilla lacks competent technical leadership. Managers with ten years experience in the product area who can make broad-lens decisions. You can see this everywhere. I participate in the web ecosystem in my day job. I'm always struck by the lack of professionalism in the emails from Mozilla employees on github issues. Most Mozilla employees mail like employees 1-2 years out of college. At my company, that fades - managers speak to employees who get too heated in emails and give them pointers with regard to staying on topic and staying technical. But you can also see them in product - Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature - one of the most important strides for privacy on the web in decades - was produced by somebody with a 10 year lens - somebody who saw the security blog post in 2012 about being able to track Twitter users based on their image caches and who had dealt with a decade of the gigantic mess of incompatibility that is cookies for just as long. For their tracking prevention solution, Mozilla copied what some existing plugins did. And it all goes back to Eich. Because managers with 10 years of experience are closer to 40 than 20. They're substantially more likely to have seen political fashions swing - they've seen somebody (perhaps the Dixie Chicks) have their career ruined for reasons that seem incomprehensible a decade later. And they've accumulated at least one "unpopular" political view. And they've come to realize that some organizations are simply too interested in political fashion to be an appropriate home for them.

The point is - what happened to Brendan Eich doesn't prevent me from using Firefox. I don't use Firefox because it sucks. And it sucks because Mozilla can't hire good people with decades of experience. And Mozilla can't hire good people with decades of experience because of what happened to Brendan Eich (and the attitudes that led to it).


"I don't use Firefox because it sucks. And it sucks because Mozilla can't hire good people with decades of experience."

Why do you think it sucks? It's been absolutely epic the last couple years in my opinion. They're making some awesome technical choices. They've repeatedly gotten themselves into trouble on the social level, but frankly I don't see how you could say they're not doing well technically. I'm pretty sure Firefox is outperforming Chrome on multiple aspects, and they're positioning themselves to become the best browser period.

I don't really care for its "smart" features like the anti-tracking or other services they offer, so unfortunately I won't be paying them any money any time soon, but to me it's incredible that there's a company out there paying people to rewrite their rendering engine in rust, while also having to pay/support people to actually make that same language suitable enough to become a critical part of an app with such a large user base.


Well, it's slower for one and web features lag for two. But the one that is really the most important to me is security and privacy features. Browsers have effectively made two majors improvements recently - Safari made third party tracking impossible by gradually fully segmenting everything - HTTP caches, LocalStorage, cookies, etc. - and Chrome made JIT exploitation and then Spectre attacks in JavaScript impossible by using process boundary separations and applying sandboxes to purpose built processes. On both fronts, Firefox is behind. Chrome devs are also engaged in active anti-fingerprinting efforts from minor efforts (like reducing the fingerprint-ability in Safari's new APIs, reducing the amount of available by default information in the user agent, or defining SameSite cookies).

I also see privacy issues sit in the Firefox bugtracker. I read about fuzz tests from project zero and elsewhere and realize Firefox is under-fuzzed, both DOM and JS. I finally stopped using Firefox because, as somebody who writes native code for a living and reads about bytecode VMs for fun in my spare time, I could no longer convince myself that it was satisfactorily secure.

What awesome technical choices do you think Mozilla has made recently? I'd love to hear an example. Throwing away the plug-in model to catch up for performance was an necessary technical choice (perhaps), but it was largely solving a self-made problem and catching up with the competition rather than bona fide innovation, so it falls short of "awesome" to me.


> Safari made third party tracking impossible by gradually fully segmenting everything - HTTP caches, LocalStorage, cookies, etc. -

I haven't been following exact features between browsers too closely recently, but Firefox's Tracking Protection has been around for a while and improving for years; and of course, Firefox is where AdBlock/uBlock originated. What does Safari provide that Firefox does not? How does it affect web compat?

> and Chrome made JIT exploitation and then Spectre attacks in JavaScript impossible by using process boundary separations and applying sandboxes to purpose built processes.

This feature has been a long time coming in Firefox, and it's still not all the way there.

But Firefox did just release an opt-in process isolation feature for Firefox, which applies stricter cross-origin controls for a variety of content, and in exchange gives web developers access to SharedArrayBuffer, the feature that needed to be disabled to mitigate Spectre attacks.

So site isolation is progressing, and the first iteration of it has been released.

> What awesome technical choices do you think Mozilla has made recently?

The development of Rust. Servo, which acted as an experimental testbed for a parallel browser engine and has led to its CSS parser, WebRender, and a number of other components being used by Firefox. Asm.js as an alternative to NaCl, which led to the joint development of WASM.


I appreciate that site isolation is in progress in Firefox, but it came out in Chrome two years ago (three now?). You're telling me that the soon to be released IE7 will include a pop-up blocker, so I should switch back to IE from Firefox.

> I haven't been following exact features between browsers too closely recently, but Firefox's Tracking Protection has been around for a while and improving for years; and of course, Firefox is where AdBlock/uBlock originated. What does Safari provide that Firefox does not? How does it affect web compat?

Firefox, like uBlock and AdBlock is list based - it forbids known bad actors. Safari is changing web standards to make tracking impossible, regardless of whether or not you are a known actor, and doing it gradually and carefully enough enough where breakage is minor enough that users don't complain. And Safari has less market share than Firefox. Look at e.g. https://webkit.org/tracking-prevention-policy/ for the principles and the other posts on the blog for details about the implementation. It's an industry wide change that a non-advertising funded browser company needed to push, and it just needed a real leader to push it. And that person turned out to be John Wilander (https://twitter.com/johnwilander). For whatever reason (I've given my thoughts above), I think Mozilla struggles to attract these sort of talented experienced mid-career people.

Rust is pretty cool, but Servo is pretty immature, and it seems like Mozilla just fired all those people. I dunno. I don't see a bright future there.


> Rust is pretty cool, but Servo is pretty immature, and it seems like Mozilla just fired all those people. I dunno. I don't see a bright future there.

Well, yeah, that's the problem.

Until now, I felt like despite its issues, Mozilla was mostly on the right track. There have been a few mistakes here and there, but it was fundamentally doing good work.

However, cutting Servo, and it looks like maybe Cranelift as well (not sure about that, but Dan Gohmen aka sunfishcode, who seemed to be one of the lead contributors, has been laid off) is a huge blow.

While Servo as a whole browser is pretty immature, a number of components of it were adopted by Firefox, such as its CSS parser, Webrender, its GPU accelerated parallel rendering engine, and more.

You had asked about what Mozilla had done recently, and I listed a few things. But it looks like they are cutting a lot of that. They mentioned focusing on wasmtime and the Bytecode alliance, but I don't see how cutting one of their lead contributors helps out with that.

And they seem to be slowly cutting the head count on Rust; it's less apparent because there are enough people not at Mozilla contributing, and some of the core contributors have been moved onto other projects which use Rust at Mozilla so while they're not contributing directly they are still somewhat involved; and some folks have left of their own accord.

But now it looks like some of those other teams are being cut, like Servo and at least some of the wasmtime team, so I really hope that more companies can put some more investment directly in Rust, as well as the WASM ecosystem.


Their choice to move over to webrender I think is their most major awesome technical choice. It's not "just" building a GPU renderer, they actually made the decision to step into a language that was still being developed, because they anticipated trouble in the long term if they opted to just tack it on to the existing C++ codebase.

I don't know about web features lagging, I feel that's also just chrome pushing web features before they're fully ratified, but maybe there's some where firefox really lags. It was a bit painful for my project that they've held back on the shared buffers thing, but I think that's going to be turned on soon again.

Besides webrender, they've been really working at performance the last couple years, there's performance improvements in nearly every release.

If they're not fuzzing their interpreters that is worrying. If they really are doing bad, surely someone's gonna come and do it for them right? Or do you think Firefox is so small right now hackers aren't even bothering?


I don't think anybody will bother. Firefox fighting IE was successful because it allied three groups: people who cared about open source, people who cared about modern web standards, and people who cared about user-first free software and privacy. Security research like fuzzers and people who like to customize their software are really in the first group. Firefox vs Chromium only captures the third group. If what you think is cool is privacy and free speech, you don't know how to fuzz software; if what you think is cool is fuzzing, you'll fuzz Chromium because that's what everybody uses.

I think the future is a rebase on Chromium. With so many companies (Brave, Google, Microsoft) each shipping their own integrations in Chromium, integrations will naturally become plug-in based (or at least, have a fairly stable API), allowing each vendor to opt in or out of each customization. Then, projects like Tor will move the TorBrowser to Chromium with their own implementations that are tracker free and one of them will eventually take the place of Firefox as the rallying point for the free software ideologues.

Which is a shame because I have a lot of sympathy for the free software ideologues. I'd like to win the browser fight for user-first free software ideology, not just corporate directed free software. But I no longer see Mozilla or Firefox as a banner under which that can be done. At the same time, I'm not sure how next free banner gets started.


There have been epic things, indeed. But also bad ones:

- many addons are still broken/unsupported after Quantum

- addons have been blocked from Firefox for questionab,e reasons

- Firefox often ships proprietary third party software & DRM

- telemtry enabled by default

- the total fiasco that is the totally incomplere Fenix that was released to the stable channel on Android

There have been epic things, but the list of bad things has been growing a lot.


Can you cite those mails? Is that the only argument behind the claim that Mozilla has bad leadership?


I had to look up on wikipedia the details of the Brendan Eich resignation. It sounds like he donated money to California Proposition 8, and politician supporting it, which wanted to pass a state amendment banning same-sex marriage. So he supported denying a human right to a group of people. As a prominent CEO he was called out for it and he made a choice to resign. Is that about right?

It is notable that in your summary you refer to this as political fashion swings, and "unpopular" political views, and an overreaction. Would you characterize the civil right movement in the same fashion?

You also seem to correlate competent technical leadership with someone who sympathizes with Eich's views. That in my experience doesn't follow at all. If anything competent leadership means you have worked with many people of all different backgrounds and have excelled at leading and empowering them. Mozilla likely has many LGBTQ employees, and if your personal prejudices stifle their contributions, then you are not competent by definition of leadership.


> It is notable that in your summary you refer to this as political fashion swings, and "unpopular" political views, and an overreaction. Would you characterize the civil right movement in the same fashion?

Just to answer your question explicitly: yes. If somebody had a political opinion that was popular with 40% of the population and had not brought it into the workplace, I would not support firing the person for holding that opinion, even if the opinion were, for example, that schools should be segregated by race. While I personally don't support segregation by race, I don't find firing people for political views kept outside of work to be in the long term interest of liberal societies. I find the notion of segregated but equal schools unworkable (because those with power will always ensure their schools are better) but not inherently evil. And, in some situations (e.g. gender), I do not oppose "separate but equal" schooling. While I personally attended a public school, I have several friends who attended single-sex private schools, and they turned out OK.

With all this in mind, your language around "denying a human right" makes it clear that you aren't giving Eich's views a fair hearing. California had domestic partnerships for same sex couples that ensured comparable protections around spousal visitation, etc. While I also disagree with the notion of "separate but equal" for partnerships and support granting gay couples the right to marriage, international organizations (like the United Nations) do not generally consider "separate but equal" to be human rights violations. To be a human rights violation, the separation must be coupled with a disparity in treatment (as in segregated schooling in the United States), which Eich is explicitly opposed to.


I agree that having a political opinion is not a basis for firing anyone, and likely illegal. However as a manager, and a CEO of a company, your biases and prejudices regarding the rights of some of your employees are more likely to affect your performance and hurt the company.

But we are talking about Mozilla specifically, which states in their manifesto: "We are committed to an internet that includes all the peoples of the earth — where a person’s demographic characteristics do not determine their online access, opportunities, or quality of experience." If we put aside any value judgement on that statement, I can see how a CEO publicly supporting exclusion can raise concerns about their performance with respect to the company's mission.

Even so, Eich wasn't fired, he resigned and moved on.

Far more interesting to me is that 6 years later, you and others on this forums go to such effort to justify why any problem with the company is a consequence of that resignation. Eich doesn't need your support. I'm curious as to what drives the justifications and the splitting hairs as to what is the approved meaning of human rights as defined by international organizations. The language about denying human rights should have been the least controversial part of what I wrote.


> Far more interesting to me is that 6 years later, you and others on this forums go to such effort to justify why any problem with the company is a consequence of that resignation. Eich doesn't need your support. I'm curious as to what drives the justifications and the splitting hairs as to what is the approved meaning of human rights as defined by international organizations.

I think you may be observing something about yourself and attributing to others. Mozilla's problems aren't a consequence of Eich's resignation. Mozilla has several problems - I described three of them that are particularly prominent to me - 1) Debian / power users 2) wikimedia executives 3) and social justice amok. Eich resignation was one of two symptoms I gave as examples of the third problem. I could also have given this blog post as an example, as it bizarrely tries to describe a layoff in the context of fighting racism (were the laid off employees racist?).

I find it interesting that you ignored all the other problems I mentioned and the other symptoms of the same problem and focused in on attacking Eich to such an extent.


California civil unions weren't equal to marriages. The US rejected separate but equal 50 years before Proposition 8.


The US Supreme Court rejected separate but equal in the context of race and government provided public school for children. In 2020, it's still legal to provide separate but equal accommodations for gender - and most establishment (public or private) do so with bathrooms. And, government and private organizations provide separate but equal, and in many cases unequal, shelters for their homeless populations by gender. Filing out a different government form isn't a human rights violation - it happens all the time - people with disabilities or those above a certain age fill out a different or additional forms. On the other hand, systematically having dilapidated and unsafe buildings for schoolchildren of one race but not the other is a human rights violations. Do you see the difference?


California civil unions weren't just a different form. They didn't confer the same rights as marriages.

The history of civil rights didn't end with Brown v. Board of Education. The Civil Rights Act and Loving v. Virginia also repudiated separate but equal. Voluntary single sex education and certain environments where women might feel vulnerable are specific exceptions. The California Supreme Court gave separate but equal for same sex unions a fair hearing in 2008 and found it was discriminatory and unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court agreed in 2015.

Eich didn't apologize or even say he wouldn't do it again. He actually pointedly refused to explain his views except to say he supported civil unions.


Brendan Eich donated to a proposal opposed to same sex marriage during a year that Barack Obama was opposed to same sex marriage. Do you believe that Barack Obama's opposition to same sex marriage should have made him unsuitable for any executive employment (i.e. in the private sector as a CEO, or in the public sector as a Mayor, Governor, or POTUS)?

At companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple, you can work on a browser regardless of your political views. At Mozilla, you need to think a certain way first. A smaller pool of technical talent to choose from leads to worse technical leadership. Recall that Eich only became the CEO (over the opposition of a portion of the board) after months where Mozilla was searching and couldn't find anybody better. It's not that the people who have particular political views are particularly talented, it's just that some of them are talented, just like the people who disagree with them. If you can include talented people of all stripes, you can do better than if you restrict yourself to talented people from a single ideological group.


Eich was Mozilla's CTO when the donation became widely known. Nothing came of it for 2 years until he was promoted to CEO. You can discriminate against LGBT people outside of work and still work on a browser at Mozilla. You just can't be in charge of everything.


> You just can't be in charge of everything.

Unless by "everything" you mean the government of the United State of America (the country where Mozilla has its headquarters), in which case, it's OK again (Obama opposed same sex marriage at the time when Eich made his donation). You can dress it up like Eich's views were some big sin that demands banishment from society, but of America's 45 presidents, 44 of them agreed with Eich, and the one who disagreed initially agreed with Eich before disagreeing with him. So, I'm pretty sure you can be in charge of everything with those views.


This is really not a productive line of discussion, please stop. If you have any friends who are same-sex couples, ask them who they would vote for if they were sent back in time to all those previous elections. That's a real way to move the conversation forward that doesn't involve speculating about why certain famous and/or powerful people acted the way they did, many of whom are now dead and can't be given the chance to explain themselves anyway.


If the US adhered to the Mozilla Manifesto then you might have a point. Until then, it’s fine to hold Obama and Eich to different standards.


> Do you believe that Barack Obama's opposition to same sex marriage should have made him unsuitable for any executive employment (i.e. in the private sector as a CEO, or in the public sector as a Mayor, Governor, or POTUS)?

Yes.


> So he supported denying a human right to a group of people

Marriage is certainly part of UDHR ("according to national laws governing the exercise of this right" which allows said human right to not apply to certain groups of people. UDHR also considers it a human right for someone to be kidnapped and forcefully re-educated so I do not understand why anyone takes it seriously) but that does not make it a human right. Marriage is nothing more than the government acknowledging that two people love each other, I personally fail to see why this should be a human right (or why the government is meddling in it at all).


If you fail to see it personally I take it you haven't had many of these rights denied. To be fair I haven't either, but Marriage is not "just" an empty acknowledgment:

its the right of inheriting when your spouse dies

its the right to be covered by your spouse's insurance

its the right to share joint custody of children

its the right of spousal privilege in court

its that you can file taxes jointly

its the rights to benefits as a spouse of a veteran

and dozens more of trivial and important legal rights most couples take for granted. These are trivially denied in many social interactions and used to make others feel like second class citizens, and deny them their pursuit of happiness. This was all debated and settled by the Supreme Court in 2015.

If the government would stop meddling in all the other legal affairs then I would see the reason for your confusion why they are meddling in marriage.


Whether or not I personally fail to see why marriage specifically should be a human right is not relevant to whether if I had any of these "rights" denied.

> its the right of inheriting when your spouse dies

You can designate your own heir.

> its the right to be covered by your spouse's insurance

> its the right to share joint custody of children

> its the right of spousal privilege in court

> its that you can file taxes jointly

> its the rights to benefits as a spouse of a veteran

> and dozens more of trivial and important legal rights most couples take for granted

And I am arguing that these are not things that should come with marriage - people who decide to not get married and people who are not legally allowed to get married (such as people in polyamorous relationships) should have the ability to enjoy the same rights as married people. Regardless though, not all of these are part of the universal definition of marriage (nor are a necessary part of it), the UDHR says that marriage as an abstract concept is a human right (and only for certain people at certain times as the law allows) - it does not designate any specific privilege between married people as a human right.

> If the government would stop meddling in all the other legal affairs ...

There is a difference between the government attempting to catch someone who violated the rights of someone else and the government recognizing (or not) the love between people.


Proposition 8 didn't restructure marriage and the rights associated with it. It just took away rights from same sex couples.


I am not talking about proposition 8. I am talking about calling marriage a human right.


I dunno about the US, but in Poland the spouse inherits (takes over) the social security pension of the deceased husband/wife, which is a biggie.


>Google also doesn't fire executives because of their political views or previous donations, when held privately, particularly when those political views are relatively common.

Obviously you're referring to Brendan Eich. But you're wrong: Eich was not fired, and he was not forced to resign. In fact just the opposite: the board tried to get him to stay. This should not be news to you: it was in the FAQ on CEO resignation, from April 2014 when it happened:

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/04/05/faq-on-ceo-resignat...

Q: Was Brendan Eich fired?

A: No, Brendan Eich resigned. Brendan himself said:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective April 3rd, and leave Mozilla. Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.”

Brendan Eich also blogged on this topic.

Q: Was Brendan Eich asked to resign by the Board?

A: No. It was Brendan’s idea to resign, and in fact, once he submitted his resignation, Board members tried to get Brendan to stay at Mozilla in another C-level role.


I think people are so used to corporate "oh he was resigned" doublespeak that they can no longer take any such assertion seriously, regardless of facts.


[flagged]


This is irrelevant to what FeepingCreature said.


[flagged]


>I am a life long atheist however American SJWism has me on the brink of converting.

I've heard that argumentation tactic many times, from people who had nothing better than: "I don't believe in something that we both agree is false, but I'm mad at you, so I'm going to punish you by changing my belief system and believing in it."

That's absolutely childish, and I don't believe you're going to punish me by renouncing your atheism and becoming a Christian just to spite me (that wouldn't be very Christian, would it?), and I really don't care what false things you profess to believe in in order to punish me. Come up with a better argument, or admit defeat, since you've already humiliated yourself by admitting that you'll sell out your beliefs out of spite.

Also, you made it perfectly clear that you're homophobic by writing a sentence that begins with "I have absolutely nothing against homosexuals, but ..." You can stop right there. You already gave away the game.


Thank you for the correction, I'll make an edit.

Edit: it appears I cannot make an edit. I do think the correction is immaterial to the larger point. Eich was not able to function as CEO given his donation. The wide publicity of this event, the other event I mentioned in my post, and even the FAQ you shared and the blog post that is OP are symptoms of an organization that is more interested in being seen positively from outside than in treating its people well. Given the wide publicity of these events, Mozilla struggles to extract experienced and high quality talent from the industry.


> the board tried to get him to stay

What about https://www.theverge.com/2014/3/28/5559284/half-of-mozillas-... then?


What about it?

>Update 2: A Mozilla spokesperson says "the three board members ended their terms last week for a variety of reasons," adding "two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected."

Do you have any evidence that the official Mozilla FAQ about the matter is lying, and that they actually fired him, or did not ask him to stay? Has Eich himself ever made the claim that he was fired, or forced out, or denied the board tried to get him to stay? Or are you just spreading conspiracy theories that contradict the known facts?


> Google also doesn't fire executives because of their political views or previous donations

They don't fire executives but they are fine with firing normal employees instead.


> Did we apologize? Did we learn anything? Did we work to prevent it happening again?

No.


For multiple issues, including the certificate expiration fiasco from last year, the butchering of bookmarks and history in Firefox, to Firefox on Android, and more and more mistakes that I think about.

They didn't apologize. They didn't learn anything. And yea, they sometimes even did it again.


Why are you reading the Firefox Reddit?


> Yes, as a non-profit, we should be held to higher standards, but not impossible standards.

> OTOH, sometimes it just seems unreasonable and absurd. Stuff like, to paraphrase, "Look at the corporate doublespeak in that press release. Fuck Mozilla, I'm switching to Chrome."

If you think that Mozilla not using "corporate doublespeak" is an impossible standard, I am left speechless.


> If you think that Mozilla not using "corporate doublespeak" is an impossible standard, I am left speechless.

If you think that is a reason to abandon Mozilla, you've just proved my point.


https://twitter.com/dherman76/status/433320156496789504 exemplifies how Mozilla employs "corporate doublespeak" to compromise its core values:

> Excited to share the launch of @mozilla @firefox Tiles program, the first of our user-enhancing programs

To call advertisements "user-enhancing" is an affront and betrays values like privacy that Mozilla claims to espouse. There's no reason to believe, after missteps like embedding cliqz tracking or using update channels to push booking.com ads, Mozilla actually appreciates those values. At that point, it's no better on a privacy front than Chrome.

https://www.reddit.com/r/privacytoolsIO/comments/aax1r5/fire...


> If you think that is a reason to abandon Mozilla

I have made no statement about abandoning or not abandoning Mozilla for corporate doublespeak. You're the second Mozilla employee that is putting words in my mouth in this thread. I think that is suggestive of what Mozilla has become.


Yes, better let Google do it. Yummy.


Actually I think all the political BS is more than enough for me to give Mozilla the cold shoulder. I mean some of the stuff they fight for like mozilla's stop hate for profit (Cooporating with ADL to bully companies into censorship), yearly donations to riseup are actively seeking to undermine my ability to speak freely and demonstrate peacefully.

I will never donate a penny anymore. I won't even test end products in FF!

This is what you get when you use a supposedly race neutral tech NGO as a guise to do race politics! I am not giving an inch to an organisation that seeks to stiffle public debate in any way what so ever "hate" or not.

These days, being against demographic replacement, against globalism and corporatism is considered hate-speech. Racial, political and religious critique is selectively considered hate speech regardless of the format and tone.

I agree that there is a need for browser alternatives, mostly so one company doesn't have all power over the future and shape of the web. Secondly because I would PREFER a political neutral organization to do my critical software, and Google has shown time and time again to have party affiliations. The US software landscape is so dystopian that it makes the chinese vendors look good and fair! If a US vendor isn't in cahoots with intelligence agencies, then its corporate and elite sponsored NGOs with even more sinister end goals;

Like the ADL who spent almost a century to get a child rapist and murderer exonerated post-humorously, because he didn't manage to walk free from his crime by blaming his black employee (For once a major community effort didn't turn out with a poor BLACK man hanging from a tree, but a rich kid). ADL who wants us all to talk about US slavery, but not about who owned the slave ships, and who managed the supply chain.


Where did your parent said anything about abandoning?

Are people no longer allowed to criticise?

> If you think that is a reason to abandon Mozilla, you've just proved my point.


[flagged]


English is neither a programming language nor a formal logic. When we see an "if" statement that would otherwise seem irrelevant, it is common to interpret it as an insinuation.

@hu3's misunderstanding is entirely understandable.


This is not a code editor.

You're implying OP intends to abandon Mozilla based on their criticism towards corporate doublespeak.

If not then your comment makes even less sense.

Let me phrase it clearly to anyone reading this: It is perfectly fine to criticize corporate double speak and people should not be confronted for that.


[flagged]


I like Mozilla as a product forge, but i really don't see why you should have that massively overpaid Management, Marketing yes, Developers for sure...but management, more and more Mozilla smells like yahoo. But still great Product and the only Browser i use!


And it makes no sense looking at OP's message which never mentions abandoning Mozilla. This is the entirety of it:

> If you think that Mozilla not using "corporate doublespeak" is an impossible standard, I am left speechless.


Other people in this thread could think it is a reason to "abandon" Mozilla.

Therefore, given that other people may think that, it is reasonable to bring it up.

Not all parts of a comment are directes literally only at the person that one is responding to..


> One thing that always frustrates me a bit whenever Mozilla comes up on HN or elsewhere is that we are always held to impossibly high standards. Yes, as a non-profit, we should be held to higher standards, but not impossible standards.

People talk as if Mozilla and others could exist in their magic bubble outside of a world where all comes down to money.

Being a non-profit means they still have to pay rent, loans etc. so there has to be enough money to do that. While many use Mozilla products without donating it is strange for me that the same people wonder about Mozilla not having enough money to keep all their employees and infrastructure.

Focusing on other actions that promise an increase in revenue is necessary if people just take without giving back.


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