Building the Products and Business Model for Your Internet
At its best, the internet is magic. It’s a connector: joining humanity in ways prior generations couldn’t even dream of. It’s an equalizer: giving everyone an opportunity to have their voice heard and to shape history in ways that used to be reserved for a privileged few. And it’s civilization’s greatest ever Swiss Army Knife: endless options to learn, to sit back and be entertained, to lean forward and game, to conduct business, to plan, to organize, and more. The internet has also given all of us a chance to find our own unique communities, little corners where we can indulge in the weirdness we find cool and comfortable with people who feel the same.
But there’s another side as well. The internet is a big, big global business, and it’s a key battleground in geopolitics. It’s increasingly hard for people to discern facts from propaganda, and digital anger now spills into the physical world in ways that lead to violence and harm. Far too often, it’s used to silence voices instead of lifting them up.
The good and the bad are simply the reality of the internet today. The challenge humanity faces now is how we continue to grow the internet in ways that bring us more utility, more joy, and more openness while reducing the potential for strife, pain, and isolation.
Mozilla has a unique role to play in making that happen. This is why we came to lead product and marketing at Mozilla after careers at some of the most recognized names in tech. The world desperately needs Mozilla to be playing this role right now and to be doing so more effectively than ever.
Our sole purpose at Mozilla is to help build an internet that is open, useful, and safe for everyone, an internet that is…awesome. We’re unique because we answer only to the people who use the internet, and that gives us a distinct advantage in building a business model and products that spring from the simple idea of “how do we make this better for all of us?”
One of the most powerful ways to do that is to build more great products. Products that give people great experiences that help them make the internet personal, enjoyable, and safe. Products that set expectations for what “awesome” looks like.
This will always start with safety as a cornerstone. Maintaining our own safety on the internet has become too complex; we’re overwhelmed with information and options, and as a result, we default to using, well, the defaults. Choice has become a tool used to confuse and to make it substantially easier for people to simply accept the decisions a company wants them to make. We need to give people agency over their own safety – with people-centric defaults and decision points spelled out in plain language. Firefox is the heart of this, and the value we create for people there will flow into new products we bring to market.
The sibling to safety is privacy. In a world where privacy is prioritized as default, users gain agency over their own privacy, enabling them to decide when or where they want to exchange some of their information for value. Protecting this agency is central to who we are — it says right there in our principles: individual security and privacy on the internet must not be treated as optional. What's more, when we do business in this way, it will attract business partners who want to also act responsibly. We will partner with these committed, like-minded companies to stay true to our mission and contribute back to the business.
All of this is only possible if we build products that people on the internet love, that solve their problems, and bring them real utility and joy.
To do this, Mozilla has to think and operate more effectively as an internet product organization, building multiple solutions and tools that address specific needs and use cases. And we need to build an enduring business that fuels our efforts to fight for an internet built for people.
We have to lead by example through the ethical use of data to inform our product design, development, and monetization. We need to help forge a better path forward for how data is used online, and we can’t do that by sitting on the sideline. Data is core to the internet today, but the use of that data is, largely, problematic and cloaked in mystery.
Mozilla will show a new way forward, where data use starts from a standpoint of customer agency, transparency, and openness before it is ever incorporated into product development or used for commercial purposes. That starts with product and business both growing from the same foundation of ethical decision-making and respect for the humans who use our services.
Here’s some of what that will look like in practice:
- Real Transparency, like our ad disclosures. We'll always be transparent with you, just like we were when we announced we were going back to advertising on Facebook and Instagram. This past year we published all of our targeting parameters from every social media ad in our bi-annual transparency report, a best-in-class practice that our peers should follow. User trust is essential to not only who we are, but having a sustainable, future-thinking business.
- Privacy innovation, like our Prio services. Prio is a privacy-preserving measurement service we've been working on to allow us to collect data to build a better product, using fancy math to avoid learning anything about individuals or compromising their privacy. We'll be exploring more ways to take advantage of this technology in our products.
- Designing with Privacy in mind. That is the approach we took to enable growth marketing at Mozilla by building a bespoke SDK and server-to-server integration, which allows us to activate growth marketing while still preserving privacy. Advertising in this way is a new proposition and requires a lot of engineering resources to set up, but through this method, we are able to remove tracking identifiers before data is shared with third parties.
- Choices, not tricks, and buried settings. We'll design our user experience to enable you to make meaningful choices, rather than trick you with dark patterns into handing over your data.
This is a new direction for Mozilla. It’s what we came here to help build. It’s critical for us to pursue if we are going to help shape the internet’s future through products and advocacy. Expect to see much more from us on the product front in 2023, as we look to expand our offerings in privacy and security, make some clear bets in ethical advertising, and bring new enhancements to our existing portfolio, including firefox and Pocket.
Mozilla has accomplished a lot in the last 25 years on behalf of humans using the internet, and we genuinely believe our best days are ahead of us. The internet is one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and you can count on us to act on behalf of the people using the internet, working every day to make things just a little more awesome.