This afternoon, I had the pleasure of introducing Mike Shaver, Chief Evangelist for the Mozilla Foundation (above) as a keynote speaker for the 2008 Technology Conference here at Kellogg. In addition, we welcomed Jeff Bell, Marketing VP from Microsoft, Satjiv Chahil from HP.
When we originally put the speaker lineup together, I wanted to introduce someone from the open source world, and someone who could remind us about the cool, world changing part of being involved in technology. Mike did just that.
It’s clear that a pretty small percentage of open source applications are highly successful – Firefox, Samba, GNU, Linux, PHP, and so on. A small number in total. Now just searching for broad categories on Sourceforge, and then divide one number by the other.
It’s also clear that there were a few obvious flavours in the success of Firefox – namely, a push away from IE 4 / 5 / 6 from web developers (who hated the non-standardness) and a pull towards FF from users (who could use cool things like addons and tabbed browsing).
But it seems like the coolest part of the Mozilla recipe isn’t the product, but the organisational structure and internal processes. Mike illustrated this by showing us the chaotic bug reporting process – you can check them out here – and contrasting that with how patches are integrated into the main branch. Anyone can file a bug – only certain participants can approve code changes. Understanding the balance between encouraging community support and controlling product quality has been critical to the success of Mozilla.