Mozilla today named Chris Beard as its interim CEO, filling the position left vacant after Brendan Eich resigned on April 3 after controversy erupted over a 2008 donation he made to the campaign for Proposition 8, an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in California. Eich had been appointed CEO of Mozilla on March 24.
Beard is no stranger to the world of Mozilla, having first joined the organization in October 2004 and staying on board until June 2013 as the chief marketing officer. For the last 11 months, Beard has been working at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, where he has served as an executive in residence. In that role, Beard has helped Greylock’s portfolio companies as well as helped identify new areas of potential investment.
While working for an open-source, nonprofit entity such as Mozilla and for a venture capital firm like Greylock might seem like polar opposites, Greylock and Mozilla are no strangers.
John Lily, who is a partner at Greylock, had served as the CEO of Mozilla from January 2008 until November 2010 and had been Mozilla’s chief operating officer before that, starting in July 2005. Lilly also served on Mozilla’s board of directors from July 2006 until March of this year.
“Chris [Beard] has one of the clearest visions of how to take the Mozilla mission and turn it into programs and activities and product ideas that I have ever seen,” Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of Mozilla, wrote in a blog post.
Baker added that Mozilla needs to act quickly and decisively and that Beard’s insight is aligned with the organization’s overall goals. Those goals include expanding the availability of Mozilla’s Firefox OS mobile operating system to more markets as well as pushing forward on the Firefox browser.
“We will continue to bring the richness and flexibility of the Web to Firefox users and will further integrate our services offerings,” Baker wrote.
Services is a key area of potential growth for Mozilla, and it’s an area with which Beard is very familiar. Back in 2007, Beard was also tasked with being the general manager of Mozilla Labs and helped to lead the initial development of the Mozilla Weave project. Weave was Mozilla’s first attempt at a services back end, and it has evolved over time to become the Firefox Sync and Firefox Accounts services. With Sync, Firefox users can synchronize settings and tabs across multiple devices. The Firefox Accounts capability just officially landed in the Firefox 29 beta release last month and is a user identity capability that enables users to have an account with Mozilla to easily set up Firefox Sync across devices.
However, the appointment of Beard currently is only identified as being a temporary measure. Beard is named only as the interim CEO of Mozilla, and Baker noted that the search is ongoing to find a long-term plan for CEO.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.