Creating Simple Software in a Geek-driven Culture

 Blake Ross and Asa Dotzler, Mozilla Foundation

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 18, 2005

Two years ago, the Mozilla Foundation resembled most other open-source organizations: it was slow, technology-oriented, and allergic to consumers. Today, the Mozilla Corporation develops, distributes and promotes the first open-source product ever to penetrate the mainstream: Firefox was downloaded over 100 million times in less than one year. We will look at how Mozilla transformed its development practices, economic models—basically its entire culture—to change from a technology-focused to a people-focused organization in such a short time.

Blake Ross cofounded Firefox during high school and started the marketing initiative shortly thereafter to promote Firefox to the mainstream. He was featured on the cover of Wired magazine in early 2005 and has spoken about computing simplicity in dozens of venues worldwide. Blake is currently on leave from Stanford, where he is an undergraduate.

Asa Dotzler is the community coordinator for several Mozilla projects. He is the founder and coordinator of Mozilla’s Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing Program, which has grown from just a few contributors when Asa joined the project to tens of thousands of volunteers today. As the Quality Assurance lead, Asa works with Mozilla’s volunteer QA and testing community to ensure excellence and to certify applications for release. Asa is also co-founder and community coordinator for the Spread Firefox project.

Asa has been an active member of the Mozilla community since 1999. After volunteering for more than a year, Asa joined the Mozilla organization and has played a key role in delivering products including the release of Mozilla 1.0 and the release of the award-winning Mozilla Firefox Web browser and Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client now used by more than 60 million people combined worldwide.

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