I had planned on this post being a description of the process of leaving Microsoft and why so many people are leaving this summer / fall. I still plan to write about what’s happening at Microsoft from my perspective. I think its important for developers to know the risks that Microsoft’s problems and decisions hold for developers.

But, I need to skip ahead first and talk about my first week at Mozilla.

When I started looking for my “post Microsoft” challenge I had very few preconceived notions as to what that would look like. I knew only three things for sure.

I wanted to work for a company that was deeply involved in real innovation and who’s work product and brand I could be truly proud to represent.
I wanted to work in a role and an organization in which I could have a profound and positive effect on the organizations mission.
I wanted to work for and with people that I would spend time with even if no one were paying me to.

Though I was leaning towards Open Source, I wasn’t close minded about any specific set of technologies.

I found very little happening in the Microsoft technology space. Plenty of companies that were using .NET to build there internal line of business applications and a few ISVs but the only real concentration of companies hiring .NET professionals seemed to be consulting / contract programming shops and most were looking for business development sales guys or project managers. (Jobs I could do but probably not love.)

At the same time I was reaching out to companies well known for various forms of technical innovation.

I started talking to Adobe, but they seemed to be struggling. Communication was sporadic and the company even closed down for a week as a cost savings effort during my dialog with them.

I had brief conversations with the likes of Google and Amazon who are both doing really interesting things, but who both would have required an immediate relocation to the silicon valley, which was not completely out of the question but would have been difficult.

I reached out to Canonical and Attachmate/Novell/SuSe in regards to positions they had listed and got no reply what-so-ever.

Three organizations quickly progressed to serious discussions and interest (at least on my part – one was outside of development technology).

The first was Red Hat. Red Hat is an amazing organization and I started talking to their OpenShift team. OpenShift is an Open Source PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering that lets you build and deploy applications for the cloud using the same tools and development stack that you would use to develop your application for a traditional client server environment. Even cooler is that the PaaS cloud stack is also Free Open Source so if you chose to you could use it to build out your own private cloud infrastructure.

But then I met a recruiter at Mozilla (Reggie Levesque)

Reggie reminded me of a silicone valley version of the recruiter who put me in the Marine Corps. Not just enthusiastic but really motivating.

I must have interviewed with at least a dozen people at Mozilla and I never knew when I was talking to someone which of a number of positions that person was looking at me for.

The interviews, which were really more conversations took a different form than your average job interview, which was my first indication that Mozilla is a different flavored place.

I was asked questions like, “what do you think of HP’s discontinuation of WebOS and what do you think it means to the web it’s users?”  And, “what sorts of things do you think need to change in the web development space to maximize the value of the internet to every person on the planet ?”

Yea, these guys (and gals) think pretty big !

I have to confess that I didn’t really know that much about Mozilla before I flew out to Mountain View. To me Mozilla was just the folks that built FireFox, that’s all.

It turns out that Firefox is not the central focus of what Mozilla does, it’s important, of course, but it’s just one tool that helps the real mission. People at Mozilla don’t even refer to Mozilla as “the company” they refer to it as “the Project”, and the project is a big deal. I was in a break out today where about 70 employees were surveyed as to what brought them to Mozilla as an employer and nearly ALL specified their desire to contribute to “the Mission” as the primary motivating factor in coming to work at Mozilla.

Mozilla is not a corporation in the practical sense, it is a non-profit organization.

“Mozilla’s mission is to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the web.”

And let me tell you, they take the responsibility of their chosen mission very seriously.

My first day as a Mozillian was the first day of the organizations “All Hands” week held this year at the san Jose convention center. Talk about getting your hair blown back (insert bald joke here).

It feels a little like a big family, people are so outgoing, scores of people have just stopped my in the halls or came up to me to introduce themselves because I’m an unknown face.

One thing that surprised me is how individualized everything is.

First thing I day one was issued hardware day.

What kind of tablet do you want, we have Asus and Samsung in stock?

Do you want a Mac Book Pro, a Mac Air or A Lenovo X220 ?

People run whatever OS they want, Mac, Linux, even Windows (some folks run XP other run Windows 7)

Office Apps ? Use whatever you like. Client for company email? Use whatever you like.

There is an amazing lack of hierarchy here everyone seems to collaborate equally with everyone else equally. It also seems like anyone can calibrate on any project they are interested in and no conversation is closed to anyone in Mozilla. (Very different from the Windows 8 gag order I experienced over the past year).

Yes, I’m rambling…..

I’m just excited. This feels like working in a think tank again and the web development technologies that are being worked on here are amazing.

So, I’ll looking forward to getting home and getting back to blogging and recording.

What kinds of things are you interested in me focusing on ?

The only real requirement is that it’s Open Technology !

After seeing the so many amazing things that can be done with HTML5 in the demos this week, I was thinking about writing some patterns based web programming tutorials, but you tell me what you all are interested in.

Thanks 🙂