Conversations About Working at Mozilla

I have been meaning to write a blog post about my now-not-quite-so new job for months, and have been procrastinating for months. Nevertheless, I keep describing to friends one on one. So, I’ll make it easy on myself by harvesting from those conversations.


I’m really loving working at Mozilla to be honest. We moved to Ottawa last year to allow us to buy a house, and since there’s no Mozilla office in Ottawa, I work from home now. It turns out to be really lovely; I’m able to have lunch with my wife every day which is a pretty amazing.
Mozilla felt enormous, compared to IBM for me. It was the difference between working on a small team that made a big product, to going to a small team that makes a component in a (number of users sense) huge project.
It’s an interesting place to work because it’s very mission driven, and the small size of the company means you can feel the contribution you make to the company.
A part of that is learning how to nibble on the firehose. If you wanted to, you could absolutely drown yourself in the goings-on around the company. This is the working-in-the-open aspect on a team of 700. However, I think it is a sensible and worthwhile thing to figure out the ways to get bits and pieces of the firehose to keep yourself informed, and to understand the plate tectonics inside Mozilla.

For me, this was slowly ramping up on what kind of email subscriptions I would make, figuring out how to keep an eye on Slack, IRC, and make that happen in a sustainable fashion.

Working Remotely

My experience is that it starts good, gets worse for a little while as your natural rhythms get out of wack, then eventually you lean into and accept the freedom that comes with it, and it gets much better.
Initially I had a really good sense of discipline; I kept to pretty much exactly the same 40 hour, 9-5 workweek I had at IBM.

I ensured I went for a walk every morning, and made sure to walk away from the laptop and leave it downstairs at 5.

Over time though, I started sleeping in, which then cut into the time for walks. So I’d skip walks some days. Then I’d keep working until it was time to start dinner (6:30). When I decided to start going to the gym, I started to get really stressed out about how I created an 8-hour day, and generally was really grumpy.

After a while though, I realized increasingly, it’s not the hours. I’ve tried really hard to stop paying attention to hours, and instead to focus on what I do. So some days I end up only working 6 hours effectively. Other days, I’ll work 10 hours because I’m in a good groove (especially when I count morning bugmail as work time, which I need to get better about).

Overall though, I’m comfortable with my productivity, no one is complaining about me not being where I need to be, and I’m much happier starting to lean into the flexibility.

I still walk most days — but if it’s pouring rain, I don’t go, and I don’t get itchy about breaking routine
I am sinking into the working from home thing quite excellently at this point. There’s absolutely something to be said for working outside on the patio when one can.
I am still working on keeping my stress levels low from working remotely. Certainly I am getting better, but it is easy to get lost in your own head, and stress out about your productivity when you don’t have coffee with coworkers regularly.

The Mozilla Manifesto Addendum

The Mozilla Manifesto contains the ten principles that guide Mozilla's mission:

Our mission is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

I spent my third week with Mozilla in Austin for the All-Hands meeting. There, Mitchell Baker mentioned she was working on what she called 'an addendum' to the Manifesto. Today we see the results of that Addendum, in anticipation of Mozilla's 20th birthday. Four new topics have been added to the 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.
  • We are committed to an internet that promotes civil discourse, human dignity, and individual expression.
  • We are committed to an internet that elevates critical thinking, reasoned argument, shared knowledge, and verifiable facts.
  • We are committed to an internet that catalyzes collaboration among diverse communities working together for the common good.

As the blog post puts it, "We do this to explicitly address the quality of people’s experiences online". When I first heard talk of these four points at the All Hands, I knew I had found somewhere special to work. I'd also encourage you to read Mitchell Baker's Op-Ed from this morning, as it contains some of the background thinking. I quote it below:

All this is ambitious, given the current state of the internet. These ideas won’t come to life on their own. As in any human institution, real transformation will come from a huge diversity of sources.
— Mitchell Baker

When I was job hunting, I was first and foremost looking for a job with interesting projects, and a business I could live with. Instead, what I have found is an organization suffused with values I appreciate, that are core to the organization. I still kick myself at my fortune on a regular basis. 

Recently I spent four days in Mountain View, digging into the culture of Mozilla, its history, it's mission, purpose and future. I won't get too deep into the program, other than to say it was excellent. Time and time again, we returned to the manifesto and the mission. The manifesto suffuses through the work of Mozilla. Today, with the addendum, I'm particularly happy to say I'm a Mozillian.

One Week In!

What a week.

I started with Mozilla on Monday. One day I will have to tell the story of how the job came to be (or, ask me over 🍻), but it did. I'm super excited.

I've joined the JavaScript engine team, and am learning all about SpiderMonkey, Baseline, IonMonkey, CacheIR, and more. The first week was a fire hose of information. There's a ton of new things to learn, but so far so good.

I spent my first week in Toronto, in the Mozilla office, which was a great experience. If anyone from the Toronto Mozilla office ends up reading this, thanks so much for being very kind to me. I really appreciated it.