Chris Beard announced today that he will step down from his role as Mozilla CEO at the end of 2019, ending a five-year run.
“Today our products, technology and policy efforts are stronger and more resonant in the market than ever, and we have built significant new organizational capabilities and financial strength to fuel our work,” he writes in the announcement. “From our new privacy-forward product strategy to initiatives like the State of the Internet we’re ready to seize the tremendous opportunity and challenges ahead to ensure we’re doing even more to put people in control of their connected lives and shape the future of the internet for the public good.”
I’m not sure all of that is true: Mozilla’s flagship product, the Firefox web browser, accounts for just 9.4 percent on the desktop, compared to about 15 percent three years ago. (Firefox’s mobile share has actually tripled in the same time frame, but to just 1.3 percent.)
But he’s right about much of that: Mozilla’s stance on privacy, in particular, is both right and smart, and it’s even inspired Apple to do the same with its own web browser, Safari. But whatever: Beard is moving on, and he says that Mozilla is “an exceptionally better place today,” and that the fundamentals are in place for continued positive momentum “for years to come.”
Beard will step down at the end of 2019, and he says he will assist the firm in finding a replacement. Should that replacement not be named by January 1, Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker will step in as interim CEO for the duration.
“I want to thank Chris from the bottom of my heart for everything he has done for Mozilla,” Baker wrote in her own post. “Chris’ tenure has seen the development of important organization capabilities and given us a much stronger foundation on which to build. This includes reinvigorating our flagship web browser Firefox to be once again a best-in-class product. It includes recharging our focus on meeting the online security and privacy needs facing people today. And it includes expanding our product offerings beyond the browser to include a suite of privacy and security-focused products and services from Facebook Container and Enhanced Tracking Protection to Firefox Monitor.”
It’s not yet clear what Beard will do after he leaves Mozilla, but Baker also noted that he will become an advisor to the Mozilla board.