7 years @ Mozilla

A little more than 7 years ago today, I was at a park in Aliso Viejo with my then 2-year old son when @dan_portillo called. Mozilla was looking for a Network Engineer.

A little more than 7 years ago today I was interviewing in Mountain View. I carried a cell phone that could only make phone calls.

7 years ago today I walked into Mozilla’s Landings office and configured my own Thinkpad laptop by myself (we didn’t have Desktop Support).  

Two weeks later Mozilla’s company-wide All Hands fit in the back of Tied House. Two months later I moved my wife and two babies from Orange County to Northern California.

Along the way I bought a house and called this home.

7 years.

7 Years of Change

I’ve gone through 3 CEOs & 3 bosses. My team’s grown from 3 to 80. I manage an IT Operations team. I’m learning how to lead, how to lean into my strengths.

I’ve learned to delegate, to trust, to let go. And I’ve been surprised and impressed at every step by the caliber of people who chose to surround me.

I now have co-workers friends whose first names I don’t know and who I’ve only met in person less than a handful of times.

Before Mozilla I had only traveled internationally once. For my honeymoon.

I’ve been to Argentina (pictures) & China twice. Stepped foot in Peru. Been to Whistler twice. I’ve seen a bear eat out of a trash can and stood on top of a mountain in July. While it snowed.

I’ve been to Berlin, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Vancouver. Lost count how many times I’ve been to Toronto, to London, to Paris

I traveled to Nice and stayed with a fellow Mozillian. Half my twitter stream is in Spanish. My arguably best friend lives 8500 miles away.

Along the way I lost my passport.

7 years ago my first smartphone was a Palm Treo running Windows. I now carry three phones & a tablet and saw the future I want last year as Mozilla shifted to Firefox OS. I have — and want — the web in my pocket.

7 Years of Personal Change

My 9 month old daughter is now 7 (or 13, it’s really hard to tell). My son knows how to find my name in about:credits.

I’m deeply focused on being an advocate for Mozilla Webmakers. I care about eliminating the opportunity gap through Year Up. I’ve learned that a mission with purpose means more than profit.

7 years ago I was a shy introvert. I still am but you probably wouldn’t know it.  7 years ago I was a Windows user.

I’ve become a San Francisco Giants fan & saw my team win the World Series. Twice.

In the past 7 years I’ve made friends

Along the way I learned that without music life would be a waste

Celebrating 7 Years

I don’t want any gold watch.

I want to do the same thing I’ve done every day for the past 7 years. I’m going to go to work.  

I’m going to go and work with people who make Mozilla not just a job, who have made this my home for 7 years, and who are as passionate about Mozilla & the Open Web as I am.

barcelona. friends.

Last night in Barcelona and I find myself in El Argentino listening to a single saxophone, my second most favorite instrument after Spanish guitar.

Quite a spectacular way to end. It bookmarks two of the most amazing things I’ve ever done with Mozilla ~ one in Buenos Aires and one in Barcelona.  And magically I’ve been to both cities twice and each trip opened my eyes to new ways.

Feels fitting to sit in this restaurant. In this town.

This trip was unique for a number of reasons but it was the friendships that grew that mattered most to me.

I just re-read a text message I sent to someone before I left.

Would love nothing more than to hang out and get to know you better.

Friendship is an odd thing to me.  Perhaps it’s just something I reflect on more as I approach my 40th birthday. 

With the exception of the small circle of college friends whom I still keep in occasional contact with, most of the friends I’ve had in life disappear as life changes, as jobs change.

I want a change.  I spend an inordinate amount of time with friends I work with, the ones who make my job a fun place to go to everyday.  It is these people who I want to keep as friends outside of work.

On this trip I changed how I related to them.  It wasn’t really hard.  They probably don’t know it but I really like them.  They fascinate me, they interest me.  Each has differing shared experiences with me that no one else can relate to.  I moved outside my comfort zone.  I let them know I cared about each one.

Sometimes that meant waiting behind to escort a friend home.  Sometimes it meant skipping on plan A so a friend wouldn’t be left alone.

And then this thing happened.  New bonds were formed, barriers removed.  It felt entirely right to share meals with each other, to order a couple dishes and simply share (tapas certainly helps that but it was more than the style of food.). Felt good.

You saved a seat for me when I was running late.  I wanted to wait for you when you were running late.  You waited for me, you included me. You shared with me, I shared with you.  We explored together.

Is this what friendship is? 

To each of you who made my trip something I couldn’t have imagined otherwise, I love you all. Thank You.


I turned 39 this past Sunday. 

My daughter and I share the same birthday (as does @selenagomez!). Over the years this has turned into a fun game of arguing over whose birthday it is.  And over these years my priorities of what I want on my birthday have changed.

  1. Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.

    When I was younger I remember going here for my birthday.  All the pomp and circumstance! This place more or less disappeared.  When I saw they had re-opened a few in Southern California I knew what we were going on my LIZ’s birthday.

    I couldn’t have been happier when the band came out, drums and horns blaring and LIZ on her chair. She’s never seen anything like this. She had this crazy big smile on her face as she soaked up being the center of attention (for literally the entire restaurant).

    In that very instant I saw the young woman she will eventually become. Full of confidence and poise.

  2. My son took me to lunch.

    Those who know me know I enjoy a great culinary experience. I like tasting new foods. I love the presentation.

    When WNZ asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I only wanted him to take me out for lunch (well all four of us). I figured I’d give him some cash and let him treat. The more we talked about it the more I could tell he was getting excited about doing it.

    He took me out to lunch at Opah Restaurant, a place my wife and I used to visit when we lived in the area. I kept trying to give him money but he’d have none of that.

    “Do you need some money?”

    “No Dad, I’ve got this.”

    And in that instant, I saw the young man that he will eventually become. Full of independence and pride.

I may not be a man with a lot of material wealth but nothing could have made me happier than those two things this weekend.

recovering from an email outage

If I could do this week over I would.  Too bad I can’t.

Email today is vital.  Not having it makes your heart palpitate. 

Monday morning, during a swap of a failed hard drive (something we’ve done countless times) the storage array we use for email went offline.  The whole thing.  And for various reasons, the last known good backup was from awhile ago. 

I painfully remember thinking “oh shit” when I realized what this meant.

[This isn’t a post about all the things I should have done to make sure I was never in this spot.  Everything’s obvious now.]

I learned a couple things this week:

  1. Hire the absolute best people (and geezus, hire people smarter than you!). You never know when you’ll need them.  You never know who will have the answer to the problem.  Hire people who care about each other.  You never know when you need them to look out for the one guy who, in 73 hours, forgot to sleep.  The same one guy who has to run point on The Next Big Step in 7 hours.
  2. Work somewhere where everyone realizes we’re all fighting the same fight. I’m surrounded by coders and when we needed coding, 1492 python coders lined up to help.  Not a single one of them reports to me.
  3. Get upset, yell, demand results.  But realize when it’s the right time to yell and when it’s not.  During a firefight, I need you to be on the best fucking game of your entire life.  It is not the time to be berating you.  It’s the time to treat you like a hero, a magician.  It’s when I do what you tell me to do for you.
  4. Communicate the heck out of everything.  Throughout this outage we found other tools to use to let users know what was going on and what to expect.  I’d post updates even when the information I had was incomplete.  I’d say so.  I hated having folks in the dark.  
  5. Expect criticism.  Some of it will be searing.
  6. Realize that the people working under me on this are collectively smarter than I am.  Offer help whenever but let them work.  Take point at handling communication.  Make sure #5 doesn’t get to them. Remind yourself of #3.

It took nearly two days to get things back to an okay state, a state where we had new emails.  Still recovering data from backups and reconstructing state from a now corrupt MySQL database.  

I’ll probably never be able to express my gratitude to the team I manage for their efforts this week.  Sucks we got here but without thinking, I’d go to battle with this team again.

We made mistakes that got us here but we can talk about that later and make sure it doesn’t happen again.