Monthly Archives: November 2010

John Lilly at Mozilla

My first day at Mozilla was in Tokyo in January of 2006.

I was working for a search engine startup but was looking for a new opportunity as I wasn’t optimistic about that startup’s viability.

Joi Ito, who gave me the opportunity to work at that startup, contacted me early in 2006 (right after the Firefox 1.5 release) to say that, “The Mozilla guys are in Tokyo. Can you join me in some meetings with them?”

That turned out to be Chris Beard, Paul Kim and John Lilly who were in Tokyo for the first time. I was thrown into meetings and strategy sessions around starting the Tokyo office. I remember being asked at the end of that week, (by who I forget, maybe it was Joi?) “So, what do you think? Are you going to join us?”

Of course I did.

My first year at Mozilla was very intense as John worked closely with the team in Tokyo to get us up to speed and prepared for growth. I think John had 3-4 trips to Tokyo that year alone. It was a very exciting time and I learned so much about Mozilla and open source and the power of our community from John directly.

In 2007, I worked with John over multiple trips to scout out our situation in China. We ultimately hired Li Gong to lead the China effort and open our office in Beijing.

As Mozilla grew, and I changed roles to join the Evangelism team, and moved my focus from Japan to the rest of Asia, I spent less time working with John directly, but his influence on my work and perspective is ever-present.

John is not leaving Mozilla per se, although he won’t be around the office day-to-day anymore. As he joins Mozilla’s Board of Directors, his influence and guidance will continue.

John, thank you so much for all that you have given to Mozilla and to all of us.

I’ll close with a few photos from ‘back in the day’ from the archives.

John Lilly


Firefox 2 Japan press event 2

John Lilly at Firefox 2 press event, Tokyo, Japan

John Lilly & Chris Beard in Tian'anmen Square

John Lilly visits CSIP

John Lilly presenting at Tsinghua Univ.

Jeremy Goldkorn, uknown, Ching Chiao, John Lilly

John Lilly in Shanghai

John Lilly in Shanghai

learn about Chinese Internet at the Sinica Podcast

For those of you on Planet Mozilla who are interested in learning more about China and trends in the Chinese Internet, I’d like to recommend the Sinica Podcast.  There’s a lot of great websites out there covering China but not many good podcasts. This one is the best, imo (at least in English.)

Sinica is proud to present a series of podcasts focusing on politics, economics, international relations and how it all relates to China. Hosted by Kaiser Kuo, with regular guest appearances by Jeremy Goldkorn, Bill Bishop and some of the leading figures in the Chinese Internet and media economy, Sinica is a show produced by those in the know for those in the know. We hope you enjoy it.

The host is Kaiser Kuo, an American-born Chinese, currently with Baidu. Other regular guests are Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei, the entrepreneur Bill Bishop, PR expert Will Moss of Imagethief, Gady Epstein of Forbes, and other guests.

What I like about this podcast is that everyone is somehow in professional media in some way and so the level of discussion is quite good.  The most recent two episodes delve into two of the recent scandals on the Chinese Internet- the Li Gang hit-and-run murder and the 360 Qihoo vs QQ controversy. These two stories couldn’t be more different from each other but they show in various ways how vastly different the Internet in China is from what we experience elsewhere.

I’m sad that there isn’t a podcast of this quality covering other countries in Asia but that’s a different rant for another day. uses Firefox 3.6

If you visit, you might see a screenshot for a very familiar browser…

(Screen shot saved here for posterity) Screen shot 2010-11-10 at 5.03.56 PM

QQ vs 360 – on the Chinese Internet users lose

There are many aspects of the Internet in China that make it unique (see Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, a page that is no doubt blocked from view in China.)

  • state censorship of non-Chinese content via the Great Firewall
  • internal (to China) censorship of content by Chinese Internet companies
  • self-censorship that is a hallmark of any regime that does not have free speech laws

These are but 3 of the many differences of the Internet in China vs. elsewhere.

Sadly, there are non-censorship related issues around commercial software vendors and their competitive practices that are terrible for Chinese Internet users.  The most recent battle on the Chinese Internet is between Tencent, who’s QQ brand has over 600 million users of their instant messaging service, and 360 an ‘anti-virus’ software company that has 300 million clients installed and is so aggressive as to cross the line (in my opinion) of marking legitimate software as “viruses” if they are competitive with any software that 360 also provides.

If I had to put this in Western terms, it would be as if Norton/Mcafee marked AOL Instant Messenger/Yahoo! IM/etc. as virus software.

360 vs QQ, Internet security company picks fight with China’s NO. 1 software giant
(the Japanese manga-style cartoons are a little disturbing)

EastSouthWestNorth has translations of key statements from QQ and a news report from MOP:

360 PK Tencent (10/31/2010) (MOP)

360 Is Hackerware (11/01/2010) (

China Tech News is reporting that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Public Security is now involved in this corporate dispute without any resolution to date.

Qihoo 360: Chinese Government Interferes In Tencent Internet Dispute

And today, Tencent (QQ) has issued an ultimatum to it’s 600 million users that users of QQ cannot use 360’s anti-virus software.

Tencent threatens its users with an ultimatum

China’s Internet users have so many challenges to deal with, from the state, to the companies that run Chinese Internet services, that corporate in-fighting between Chinese application providers (who are not even directly competing with each other) should be the last straw.

My opinion? If you are an Internet user in China, switch to Linux or Mac OS and get off Windows, because Chinese application providers only build for Windows and thus getting off Windows means getting rid of the need for Chinese applications altogether.  You won’t have these problems with open source software.

Mark Zuckerberg on HTML5 at Facebook

At Facebook’s press event today 3 journalists were given a chance to interview Mark Zuckerberg separately from the main press event. At the end of a long discussion, Robert Scoble asked Mark Zuckerberg about any future iPad app for Facebook and this is a quick transcript of what he said.

Starting around 34:20

Our view over the long term is that the development ecosystem right now is kind of crazy. I talked about this a little at Startup School, I don’t know if any of you guys were there. It’s like, when we were getting started in 2004 with Facebook, there was no question what we were going to build- er, what platform we were going to build on top of. Software development was already kind of ‘meh’ too complicated and you don’t want to make someone download something. Mobile environments were not mature enough at all. So of course [in 2004] we’re going to build for the web.

But today, if you’re going to build something from scratch, you have to build a website, but by the way now there is good JavaScript and Ajax-type interactions that work in some places but not in others so you probably want different versions of the website, then you want a simple mobile website, an HTML5 mobile website, an iPhone app, an Android app, an iPad app, a RIM app, and all these different things- and it’s insane. Something has to rationalize all this- and I think our view over time is that the HTML5 environment [the browser] that is being created across all of these [devices] should be a very valuable thing for making it so that people can build all of this.

But regardless I think that the modern app development environment is that you build apps that people use in multiple places.  It’s not just that you build a website. It is that you build a website, then you also build a mobile experience, and then you probably build something inside a social network because that is how you get a lot of exposure to a lot of users. But the more we can make this ‘all web’ that I think is  good.

If a company like Facebook sees the value in an HTML5-based web application that can run across many modern mobile devices, that, to me is a great testament to the power of the web vs. native mobile apps.  Clearly native apps have their place but the more fragmentation we see in the mobile space in both operating systems as well as devices (there are now tablet devices coming out in many different sizes from 11 inches to 7 inches an every size in between) the more important the web will be.

Scobleizer on CinchCast – Interview of Mark Zuckerberg and Erick Tseng of Facebook with Techcrunch and Financial Times.

mp3 download

Mozilla at Future Web Forum 2010 – Korea

Just a quick note to those who might be in Seoul this week that Mozilla will be co-sponsoring the Future Web Forum 2010 event on HTML 5 on November 3rd.  Mitchell Baker and I spoke at this event in 2008 with Vint Cerf.  Channy Yun, who leads the Mozilla Korea community will be speaking about the HTML5 support in Firefox 4.  This is the premier event covering the web browser space in Korea and we are glad to see a focus on HTML5 in Korea.