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Oct 13

Joining Mozilla to create new developer tools for the Web; Hoping to create a new chapter in the book of Mozilla

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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:

Mozilla is placing a big bet, not only on us, but in the developer tools space.

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!

35 Responses to “Joining Mozilla to create new developer tools for the Web; Hoping to create a new chapter in the book of Mozilla”

  1. Scott Morgan Says:

    Congrats Dion (and Ben). I am glad to see you making a move that suits you so well. We all know how much you enjoy the open web and it doesn’t get much more open than Mozilla. The team that you guys build are very lucky to be working under you two. And if you ever need a “flash guy” on your team…. :)

  2. Lauren Cooney Says:


    Congrats! This is great news for you – and seems like a terrific fit. Glad we’ll still be running into each other. :)


    Lauren Cooney
    Web Platform & Standards
    Microsoft Corporation

  3. LoriHC Says:

    Congratulations! This sounds like a great move for you. Just reading this post got me excited about the possibilities — I love identifying pain points and figuring out how to fix them, so it’ll be fun to watch the activities of this new team unfold. Best of luck.

  4. V1 Says:

    First of all congrats the both you. And I’m glad to see that will be some improvement in the developer tools. This has always been a sore spot when it comes to developing, and I hope you bring enough bandages to fix up these issues :D.

    Could you tell us a bit, In what direction we should think when you talk about these tools :)?

  5. Travis Swicegood Says:

    Congrats! Sounds like an awesome opportunity to really help developers take it to the next level. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I really look forward to seeing what comes of this!

  6. Daniel Shaw Says:

    Wow, that came as a total surprise. Congrats though. As long as Mozilla gives you the same freedom to energize the developer community, that’s all that matters. Knock ‘em dead!

  7. phil jones Says:

    Congrats. Dion.

    Mozilla definitely looks like one of the most interesting places to be now. (Having taken on the Humanized people too.)

    I’m very excited that they’re looking at developer tools. If you have a moment, I’d really like to know your opinion of something I’ve been thinking for a while, but I expressed most concisely here :


    phil jones

  8. Jim Pick Says:

    Sweet! Whatever you’re gonna be doing, I’m sure it’s going to be great. AJAX development definitely needs some tool improvements. Coverage tool, anyone?

  9. Matt Cutts Says:

    I’m sorry to see you leave Google, but I know you’ll do fantastic things for the Open Web at Mozilla too. I hope to see you for lunch at the Googleplex sometime! :)

  10. Dan Moore Says:

    Congratulations! Looking forward to following y’all on this grand adventure.

  11. Chris DiBona Says:

    I’ll miss you Dion. Google is less without you.

  12. Dan Mayer Says:

    Good luck with the new position. It was great to talk with you at TechStars this year. Devver it working on developer tools as well, so as you get into it, it would be interesting to get together and chat about how to make developers more productive.

  13. Lindsey Simon Says:

    I’ll miss you too Dion, it was an honor to work with you – but I’m excited to see what comes of this change!

  14. Gen Kanai Says:

    Welcome to Mozilla! We’re very excited to support you and Ben in your new roles. Asia as a whole needs open web developer evangelism more than any other part of the world so we look forward to seeing you in this part of the globe before too long.

  15. Maile Ohye Says:

    Dion, I’ll miss having you in the office, sharing your insight and telling jokes. Ben, Brad, Mark and I will retire your jersey as our boss. :) You’re terrific. Best of luck!

  16. funtomas Says:

    This is the second great news today, beside the black silicon invention ;-). Hope, your and Ben’s blogs will appear at Planet Mozilla aggregation.
    Good Luck, Dion!

  17. Austin Chau Says:

    Best of Luck! Perhaps we will see at Google cafes from time to time :)

  18. Dustin Diaz Says:

    Hey dude,
    It’s sad to see you go, but exciting at the same time. Mozilla sounds fit for your passion and I know you’ll do great things there. Best of luck and keep in touch.


  19. niawt kram Says:

    What you are describing here sounds very much like a tool I have used called Servoy. It was written by a brilliant group of Dutch programmers that have built that is the most productive development environment I have ever had the pleasure to use.

    Good luck in your new ventures, and I look forward to seeing your work!

  20. Dan Kantor Says:

    Congrats Dion! Can’t wait to see the work you guys produce.

  21. Josep Says:

    Congratulations and good luck with this wonderful project. I love Mozilla.

    Greetings from Spain!

  22. Brad Neuberg Says:

    Hi Dion, I can’t wait to see what you and Ben create! It’s been an honor to work with you, and I’m sure we’ll all get to do some Open Web hacking/speaking/advocacy together! Have fun on your sabbatical.


  23. Rob Castaneda Says:

    W E L L D O N E B O Y S!!!

    Hope to see you in a few weeks time.



  24. omtv Says:

    wish you all the best!

  25. Vivian Li Says:

    Dion, we all miss you already , hope we will have opportunities to work together in the future.

  26. Alex Ruiz Says:

    Congrats Dion! I wish you the best luck in this new, exciting opportunity! :)

    Keep us updated please!


  27. Sadiq Says:

    Hi Dion,
    How about the tools for web site testing and for standardization?? It could do a miracle about all these things. Some things like they never came before… All the very best guyz….

  28. Chris Says:

    Excellent news, congratulations!

    I would be very interested to see developer tools as a service – I’m thinking browsers are now advanced enough to enable this. You could integrate it with mozdev.

  29. ryan boyd Says:

    Congrats Dion! Sorry I missed your going away party, but I’ll certainly miss working with you. I trust you’ll do an excellent job advocating the open web at mozilla and I hope you do an even better job helping the obama campaign :) how about a personal stretch goal of getting an extra 100M votes for him?


  30. Michael Winton Says:

    Dion, we miss you already. Looking forward to continuing to work with you, despite being at different companies now. Congrats and good luck. I’m sure you’ll do an awesome job at Mozilla. Thanks for all you did and all the people you inspired while you were here.

  31. Luis Pastrulo Says:

    Excellent Dion!!!! Congratulation. Any web development company would be happy to have you if you don’t start yours before hahaha!

  32. Bear Says:

    Thank you! Nice to watch your video message.
    What all the developers need are just Tools, Tools, and Tools.
    We just want to use one line to do what 100000 lines we did before. Save Time, Get Money. Make it easy, Make Money.

  33. Cat Allman Says:

    Hi Dion,

    Congrats on the new job – I hope it’s any and everything you want. I’ve always been sorry we didn’t get to work together at Google, so maybe your new job will fix that :)

    Good luck and have fun!

  34. dinle Says:

    Congratulations! on the new job and good luck.

  35. Designer Sofa Says:

    Congratulations, i hope all the best come your way. Keep up with your top class post.
    I truly enjoy reading you blog.


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