Mitchell Baker Relinquishes CEO Role Before Mozilaa Announces Layoffs
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 14 February 2024

In an announcement last week Mitchell Baker publicised her decision to step down from the role of CEO of Mozilla Corporation in order devote herself to overseeing Mozilla's broader vision. Now comes news of layoffs of around 5 percent of its workforce as Mozilla refocuses on Firefox and AI.

It was Bloomberg that initially reported that Mozilla is cutting about 60 jobs as part of a shake-up under a new chief executive officer and we can thank Tech Crunch for publishing the internal memo that made the announcement.

The memo itself doesn't specify how many employees are going to be affected but it does refer to:

"lower headcount budget moving forward in Mozprod"

and that:

"some roles have been consolidated in the People and other support services orgs so that we are offering the right level of support to our product portfolio."

It also outlines that investment is going to be scaled back in three separate areas - in mozilla.social; Hubs, a free, open-source platform that allows users to create and explore virtual worlds in their web browser and consumer products in the Security and Privacy space, specifically VPN, Relay and Online Footprint Scrubber. It is this last area that is the most worrying as these were the products designed to derive income from Firefox rather just rely on the income it brings in from Google.

firefoxquantum

 

Referring to Mozilla's initiative to bring trustworthy AI into Firefox, largely driven by the Fakespot acquisition and the product integration work that followed, the memo notes:

"as part of the changes today, we will be bringing together Pocket, Content, and the AI/ML teams supporting content with the Firefox Organization." 

With hindsight it can be seen that Mitchell Butler's recent post, A New Chapter for Mozilla, in which she talks about a:

tectonic shift underway as everyone battles to own the future of AI. It is Mozilla’s opportunity and imperative to forge a better future. 

provided a setting for a change of focus and also shifted responsibility for the negative consequences of job losses to Laura Chambers, the new interim CEO of Mozilla Corporation who is expected to fill this role until the end of the year.

In her blog post, Baker announces:

After much thoughtful consideration, I have decided to transition from the role of CEO of Mozilla Corporation back to the position of Mozilla Corporation Executive Chairwoman, a role I held with great passion for many years. 

During my 25 years at Mozilla, I’ve worn many hats, and this move is driven by a desire to streamline our focus and leadership for the challenges ahead. I’ve been leading the Mozilla business through a transformative period, while also overseeing Mozilla’s broader mission. It’s become evident that both endeavors need dedicated full-time leadership. 

She named her replacement as Laura Chambers who has been:

an active and impactful member of the Mozilla board for three years.

In here post Baker also outlined the division of responsibilities between the two roles stating that the two key goals for the CEO of Mozilla Corporation are: 

1. Vision and Strategy for the Future: Refining the company’s vision and aligning the corporate and product strategy behind it. 

2. Outstanding Execution: Focus, Processes, Capabilities: Doubling down on our core products, like Firefox, and building out our capabilities and innovation pipeline to bring new compelling products to market. 

Baker characterizes the role of Exec Chair of Mozilla Corporation as one in which she will support the CEO and leadership team as she has done previously. She intends to expand her work in two critical areas: 

1. More consistently representing Mozilla in the public – With a focus on policy, open source, and community — through speaking and direct engagement with the community.

2. Representing Mozilla as a unified entity – bigger than the sum of our parts — as we continue to strengthen and refine how all the entities work together to advance our policy and community goals with greater urgency and speed.  

M Baker

 

In recent years Baker faced criticism for her level of remuneration given Mozilla is a non-profit whose  revenue is precarious and whose flagship offering Firefox continues to lose market share, see Firefox Use Slumps 85% Executive Pay Soars 400% and it will be interesting to see if she takes a pay cut for being Executive Chair of Mozilla Corporation.

It is hard not to interpret her stepping out of a role in which has ultimate responsibility for Firefox and the now defunct attempts to make revenue from it into one that, while proclaiming the mission, isn't mission critical. Having an Interim CEO appointed for a single year also suggests that confidence in Firefox has slipped even further.

 

More Information

A New Chapter for Mozilla

Related Articles

Firefox In Peril While Mozilla Rewards CEO

Firefox Use Slumps 85% Executive Pay Soars 400%

Mozilla Layoffs and Change of Focus

Leaked Mozilla Tax Return Causes Furore

The Perils Of Mozilla

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