Leaving Mozilla

I'll be leaving my job at Mozilla on Friday July 19th, 2024. I'm going to take some time off before looking at where I'll work next.

What a great job

I've enjoyed working at Mozilla so much, it's hard to enumerate all the reasons.

Mozilla was the first non-profit I worked for, having spent the previous 16 years of my career at for profit companies. When I joined, I didn't anticipate how broadly the non-profit nature of the company would impact my experience in the job but it's been very significant. I've liked how I get to make choices in my day to day based on the Mozilla mission, which I also support just as a user of the internet. I deeply support what Mozilla's trying to achieve.

I imagine most everyone identifies that the people they work with are a big part of their enjoyment of their job. I'm no different and have gotten a lot of happiness from my friends and colleagues at work. I really like the type of people that choose to work at Mozilla. In my experience they seem to be committed to doing good in the world which is a great group of people to spend your days with.

I've worked at Mozilla long enough now that I just assume that everything I build should be done in the open. I definitely prefer working in this context. I imagine it will take some adjustment wherever I end up next, assuming that working in public and open sourcing everything won't be the norm.

Some background

I started at Mozilla 12 years ago in 2012. I joined as a Cloud Operations Engineer doing DevOps work on various services. I got to work on cool products like Persona which I ported to run in AWS, Firefox Sync and Firefox Accounts which is the identity system that sits behind Mozilla's products. I also got to join the Identity team for about 6 months in that window and continue working with them on Persona.

After 2 years, I joined the Operations Security team in 2014 as a Security Engineer. I'd worked on security as a part of my past roles in operations and DevOps but this was the first time I got to focus exclusively on security. In the security team I got to work on security incident response, developing security tooling and risk analysis. I also worked on certificate transparency monitoring and building certificate management tooling.

In 2016 my colleagues and I, along with members of the Participation Systems team, began designing and building Mozilla's identity and access management system. The goal was to enable Mozilla staff and community members to be able to access Mozilla services and web sites through a single login. We designed and built a great system that really changed how everything at Mozilla was accessed and secured. I'm very proud of what we built and the impact it had on users of Mozilla's systems.

In 2017 I developed and began delivering the new hire security training for all Mozillians joining the company. This was great to get to meet all the new Mozillians and influence security practices across such a large cohort.

In 2019 Andrew Krug and I continued our work on Mozilla's Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM) system, MozDef, by rendering it into a product customers could buy in the AWS Marketplace. This was a lot of fun. I also built the AWS single sign on tools mozilla-aws-cli and federated-aws-rp with my colleagues that enabled Mozillians to access AWS.

In 2020 I created Mozilla's Risk Management team. We focussed on helping Mozillians understand the risks that they held and tried to enable them to make more risk informed choices. 2020 was a challenging year for security at Mozilla as we went from a team of 14 to a team of 3 due to team members leaving and a layoff of 25% of the company. Thankfully since then we merged with another security team and have hired fantastic folks to rebuild security capabilities.

In 2022 we hired an awesome manager for the team and I got to go back to engineering. I continued working in Risk Management and then in 2023 moved into Mozilla's newly formed Infrastructure Security team.

What's next

I'm going to take time off and hopefully get to work on the various efforts that I normally fit in around work. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition game that I run twice a month will have its 10th anniversary this fall. I'm looking forward to potentially getting to dedicate more time to the game and to gaming in general. There's deferred work that I want to do on the open source support ticketing system I made, Birch Girder, as well as other open source projects that I contribute to. I'm hoping to help out at IO Cooperative a bit more. Revelle and I have been enjoying bicycle riding together which I'm hoping to do more of with her. She's also been getting into writing Python and some Javascript. It'll be good to be more available to answer her questions and help out. I'm looking forward to getting to spend a bit more time with my parents and siblings up in Seattle. I haven't brewed much beer anytime recently and would like to do more brewing.

Knowing how things go at Mozilla, it's very possible I'll end up doing the Mozilla Boomerang down the road and end up contributing again to Mozilla in some way, who knows.

I'm so thankful for getting to be part of Mozilla for so long and for getting to work with so many kind, intelligent and talented people.

Here are some photos from over the years https://www.flickr.com/photos/gene_wood/albums/72177720318439161/


  • ckolos says:

    There is life on the other side. Congratulations on having a great run

  • Matt Col says:

    Mozilla is truly a uniquely special company filled with great people. Best of luck on what lies ahead. And the picture on the boat under the GG bridge is awesome!

  • rpapa says:

    All the best in your next endeavors Gene. Thanks for all your dedication and hard work over the years

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