Since my post about what it is like to be a Firefox hacker lots of people have asked about why I chose to work for Mozilla. I had opportunities to work for Google or Facebook but I have always had a great respect for Mozilla.
Of course, Google and Facebook are also creative and constantly working on awesome stuff but Mozilla is more than just a job ... their mission is something that I feel that I really need to fight for.
Back in 1997 the Netscape browser was pushing more and more traffic towards AOL's search and other services. It is never any good for a single company to have too much power and control over the internet and if things continued as they were, then it is likely that one company would have "owned" the internet. Could you imagine everybody having to pay a single company for internet access, storing contacts, searches and each page view?
Eventually, Mozilla broke away from AOL Netscape because they believed that the internet should be free and open for everybody. Mozilla's mission is not to simply write and maintain Firefox, it is to keep the power of the Web in people’s hands. Firefox is simply a means to an end in accomplishing this.
Mozilla does a fantastic job of promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the Internet. They do this by teaching kids and adults to create web pages, inventing awesome stuff, contributing to web standards and generally trying to make the web a better place. They really are building the future of the internet.
Mozilla also does a great job of keeping peoples data private. Countless people have asked how this can be when sync data is stored on Mozilla's servers. We have made huge efforts to keep this data private. All of the data is stored in a gigantic unreadable blob. Each computer has a key that it uses to access the data and without that key the data is completely useless.
So why is it awesome to work for Mozilla? Well, I am working with some of the most talented, creative developers in the world. The internet is still at risk of becoming "owned" by large organisations and I don't like this idea and I refuse to go down without a fight. I refuse to hand all of my data over to those that ask nicely enough by offering "free" services in exchange for my privacy. Everything I do at work helps keep the internet free and open to everybody and this helps me feel that I am fighting to save a free and open internet.
Amazingly, the right to privacy and a desire to make the internet a better place is only one reason that it is awesome to work for Mozilla. Another thing is that my mindset is set squarely within the open source culture. Open source simply produces better software ... everyone collaborates, a product evolves at an astonishing rate and the best technology wins. Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.
I also think that there is a place for paid software. If somebody is working hard to provide a quality service then I am more than happy to pay, even if it is open source. There is something very appealing about being able to look at a program's source to make sure a program is doing what it claims to be. Submitting fixes and adding new features to these programs is also something that feels right ... it just feels like this is the way things are supposed to work.
The icing on the cake has to be that everyone that works for Mozilla feels the same way about open source software. There is a unity of purpose at the company that I do not believe exists anywhere else. We don't create awesome stuff just because we have been asked to do it. We create it because we have an awesome idea and have che chance to bring it to life. We code for the joy of coding and no job gets better than that.
Amazingly everybody can do something for Mozilla and join the fight keep the internet open ... you don't even need to know any programming languages.