Mozilla's executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced in a blog posting on Monday that the troubled company had finally picked an old hand — Chris Beard — for its new chief executive.
Beard previously worked at Mozilla during the launch of Firefox 1.0. He was then Executive-in-Residence at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners until April, when he returned to Mozilla as interim CEO.
As Baker noted, "During his many years here, he at various times has had responsibility for almost every part of the business, including product, marketing, innovation, communications, community and user engagement."
Beard is being asked to lead an open source company that's been troubled due to the tenure of its last CEO, Brendan Eich. Eich's appointment and anti-gay marriage politics led to serious morale problems. When all was said and done, Eich served as CEO for a mere nine days.
In addition, the business faces a hard deadline to find new revenue streams before its Google advertising contract concludes later this year. With approximately 90 percent of its income depending on Google, and little reason to think that Google will renew the contract, Mozilla faces a make-it-or-break it crisis.
Baker had little to say about these issues in her announcement. Instead she focused on Mozilla's Firefox OS mobile operating system gaining new carrier customers.
Looking ahead, Baker talked in generalities. Baker said, "Today, online life is a combination of desktop, mobile, connected devices, cloud services, big data and social interactions. Mozilla connects all of these in an open system we call the web – a system that puts individuals in control, offers freedom and flexibility and that is trustworthy and fun."
Mozilla builds products and communities that work to break down closed systems that limit online choice and opportunity. There is a huge need for this work today, as our digital lives become more centralized and controlled by just a few large companies. Toward that end, Mozilla builds products that put the user first, with a focus on openness, innovation and opportunity.
Chris has a keen sense of where Mozilla has been – and where we’re headed. He has unique experience connecting with every constituency that touches our products, including consumers, partners and community members. There’s simply no better person to lead Mozilla as we extend our impact from Firefox on the desktop to the worlds of mobile devices and services.
That all sounds good, but we need specifics on how Beard will solve Mozilla's morale and revenue problems before we can say if Mozilla's big internet dreams will have any chance of turning into internet reality.