Mozilla names Lilly CEO; A look at his early priorities

Mozilla Corp., the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, has named chief operating officer John Lilly as CEO.

Mozilla Corp., the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, has named chief operating officer John Lilly as CEO. Former CEO Mitchell Baker will remain chairman.

The duo outlined the move in separate blogs. For her part, Baker said on her blog that she will focus on issues like standards, interoperability and data management. Specifically, she wants to make security "understandable enough that people can help protect themselves," enable individuals to better control their data and content and making the public benefit and nature of Mozilla and Firefox better understood.

While Baker is off doing that, Lilly will have to help launch Firefox 3 and the Thunderbird spin-off dubbed MailCo for now. Those two items were outlined as priorities on Lilly's blog.

Baker wrote:

John Lilly is the right person to guide the product and organizational maturity of MoCo (Mozilla Corp). John has been doing more and more of this since he took on the COO role in August of 2006. John understands Mozilla, is astonishingly good at operations and has an innate facility for our products and technologies and the directions in which they should develop. John has been instrumental in developing an organizational structure for MoCo that is both embedded in Mozilla and open-source DNA and which can function at the extremely high degree of effectiveness that our setting requires. Once I allowed myself to think about this I realized that John will be a better CEO for the MoCo going forward than I would be. I'm sure that I was the right person for this role during the first years of MoCo; I'm equally sure that John is the best person for this role in the future.

Lilly, who recently addressed chatter about a Mozilla IPO, hits the ground with a clear to do list. Lilly outlined his goals for the next few months.

  • "Do whatever I can to help get Firefox 3 out the door." Mozilla has released its second Firefox 3 beta and has a few early converts including our own Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.
  • Get the new Mozilla mail company off the ground, and "get Thunderbird on a safe footing for the future."
  • Improve communication. Lilly wrote that he wants to: "Improve Mozilla’s understandability and knowability across the board. While we’ve grown over the past couple of years, it’s been hard to make sure that we’re always communicating as well as we’re able to, and as well as our community and users need us to. We try hard on this, and we’re improving, but we can and will do more."
  • Outline and communicate how Mozilla thinks about economic sustainability and publicly address the future state.
  • Help Baker broaden Mozilla's impact.

That's quite a to-do list, but it's not like Lilly's a newbie. Baker and Lilly had the drill down already--this title change just formalizes things.