I just announced that Ben and I are joining Mozilla. Alongside Ben, I will be leading a brand spanking new developer tools group.
To say that I am excited is a huge understatement. Ben and I have been talking about developer tools from the first day that we met on the No Fluff tour. For a very brief period I consulted together with him, and got to start on a vision for a productive Java stack. When consulting, I always saw huge productivity problems, and wanted to think of ways to solve them. Tools are one way to go, and the developer tools group at Mozilla is going to be different. We aren’t narrowly going to look at a way to build Eclipse plugins for example. Rather, we want to take a step back and see how we can help Web developers build compelling software with great user experiences in a productive way. We don’t want to think “we need VB on the Web.” We want something more.
I said a lot of this in the announcement post:
Why are we doing this? Ben and I are passionate about a couple of things: compelling software and developers. In various roles in the past, we have built tools that attempt to make developers productive. We are huge advocates for the Open Web, yet we feel that tools are lacking on our collective platform. We want to help make a difference.
As we ramp up this new group, we will be looking at the problem and seeing where it makes sense to step in. We are going to be experimenting, and thinking about how to make developers lives better in different ways, so we aren’t expecting to see traditional tools come out of this group. Also, we don’t want to do this alone. We want to involve the entire community which is one reason that we are so excited to kick off this work at Mozilla. We believe that we have a unique opportunity to put developers first. We can build these tools in the open, with total transparency; the Mozilla way.
We respect the work being done by other vendors, and very much want to work together. We can’t wait to reach out early-on in the process, involving companies that believe in the Open Web like we do. Together we can drastically improve productivity, allowing developers to build compelling user experiences.
We are just getting started. As soon as we come up with some ideas, we will be sharing then with you and asking for community participation in various forms. You, the Ajaxian community, have been phenomenal over the years, and we can’t wait to do more together.
We also included a personal message:
There are a lot of personal issues here too. I strongly feel that my best work has been done when working with Ben. He has been an inspiration, as well as a great friend, and we have long wanted to work together. It is nuts that our paths haven’t brought us together in a full time capacity in the past. I can’t wait to get started with him now. I learnt from my Dad that you should have fun at work. Part of that is being around people you truly like, working on something you feel is important, and being able to excel. I think that I will get an abundance of that.
I am also very proud to be join Mozilla, the non-profit Foundation stands for what I believe in. Being someone who thrives on Open and transparent, how great and freeing will it be to develop all of this in the Open, being directly part of the community. At any company there are things that you strategically can and can’t talk about. At Mozilla on the other hand, everything is out there for all to see. That fits me to a tee! I have also long admired the talent that lives at the company and I look forward to working together.
What about Google though? Some people will think I am crazy for leaving the fastest growing company in history! :)
I have been running an Open Web advocacy group, and Google is definitely on the right track. You could argue that it is easy for it to be, since it is dependent on an Open Web. Also, it doesn’t need to come up with a business model. That is all true, but it is still pretty amazing to see exactly how much engineering is given away, or I should say shared with the community, through Open Source and APIs.
Being on the inside you get to really see what the company is all about. People have their views on Google, and any large company. Some talk of Big Brother and the like. Of course, the reality is that a company isn’t one being. It is a large group of people with varied ideas. These employees really hold the company to a high standard, as I have talked about before. I will continue to hold Google to those standards from the outside. How many companies would make a stand on Proposition 8? Google is special.
In the time that I have worked there, it sure has changed as it has grown too. How can you grow that fast and not have big changes? I have moved offices 9 times for example :) There are some things that have irritated me, and that I have wanted to change. The hiring process is one of them! However, recently, I found peace with a lot of the issues. I realized that without them, Google wouldn’t be Google. The last thing it needs to become is “just another company.” I hope it continues being as different as it can as it scales and brings in more and more outside forces.
I have to laugh when people talk about its future. We just saw the 10 year old birthday of the place, and it has only just begun. You can talk about advertising being a one trick pony, but the scope of advertising is also very young indeed. Just watch Minority Report again, but then think about how it could be done in a useful way.
Then think about the server side processing power that the company has. A handful of companies have that much processing ability which will enable solutions to problems that only they can do a good job coming up with. It is tough for a startup to come along and tackle some of these issues.
As I experienced my last week at Google, and had the tough job of saying good bye to the amazing group of people, I had a thought. It felt like I was leaving one premier league football team for another, and I knew that I would get to play with a bunch of the old team mates when the national games happened.
This is a new world. Google is of the Open Web, just as Mozilla is (and many others of course). This means that I really WILL get to work with old friends there. When in history has that been the case? If you went from factory X to factory Y, that was it. “See ya at the pub lads” was as far as you got.
The notion of company has drastically changed. The people who pay the bills may not be the people you work with all the time. I bet that Ian Hickson works with folks from Apple, Mozilla, and Opera just as much as Google counterparts! The goals that Mozilla and Google have are so aligned, that I think we will naturally continue to work together.
Finally, I am looking forward to a little sabbatical. Whenever I take a new job I am so excited that I jump right in. Then you look back and think “why didn’t I take a bit of time off then?”
This time I hope to help Obama a little on the final stretch, get some personal issues cleaned up, and in general take some time to change my lifestyle.
If you have pain points in development that you wish someone helped you with, please let us know!