State Of The Internet

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State of the Internet Initiative

At Whistler All Hands (June 2019), Mitchell Baker spoke of the challenges people face in their digital lives. Digital life is in crisis. What more might Mozilla do -- independently or with partners -- in order to have the positive, game-changing impact our mission calls us to?

Through a series of quick, iterative analyses of the systemic issues surrounding digital life, the State of the Internet project will define product and technology-focused ‘Explorations’ to help us test assumptions around how we can make a bolder, broader, and bigger impact. These Explorations will run for varying time periods, with the goal of validating their strategic, mission-driving impact and business value. Validated Explorations will be further developed into longer-term investments and strategy.

The ‘State of the Internet’ problems to be considered at different stages of this project include:

  • Surveillance Economy (our first series of “Explorations”)
  • Content discovery and misinformation
  • Privacy, security, and network architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Decentralized web
  • User sovereignty of data
  • Messaging
  • Identity systems

Mozilla hosted several employee and community workshops that looked at some of these problems. These workshops helped us to narrow in on the Surveillance Economy as our first topic.

November 2019 marked the formal launch of this project, with its initial focus on the Surveillance Economy. First Explorations were presented at Mozilla's All Hands, January 27-31, 2020.

Mozilla worked with IDEO during the first phase, which we’re calling the ‘Engage’ phase (see Methodology). IDEO is a global design firm known for popularizing human-centered design thinking. They were chosen for their expertise in systems thinking, ability to quickly conceptualize and prototype ideas, their work for both nonprofits and for profit companies and their support for our mission. IDEO helped Mozilla define a replicable process for activating our communities and expert networks to define new Explorations related to other State of the Internet issues.

In February/March 2020, we will decide if and how Mozilla will invest in any of the suggested Surveillance Economy Explorations and how they will be managed (Operating Explorations phase, see Methodology). Evaluation criteria will include feedback from Mozilla employees and NDA'd contributors, as well as:

  • Strategic Alignment - does the concept serve our innovation agenda? How much will it directly impact a SOTI focus area?
  • Systemic Impact - does the concept have high potential to both scale and create ripple effects, driving positive systemic change?
  • Business Opportunity — is there reason to believe that Mozilla could create and capture value by developing new solutions (or working with partners on new solutions) here?

The overall project is managed by the Open Innovation team under the executive sponsorship of Mitchell Baker. Katharina Borchert is the DRI. The project relies on the expertise and help of many across the organization, from Marketing to the Emerging Technologies, Data Science and People teams. We will also work with our communities as outlined below.


We will adhere to the following values throughout the project:

  • Learn by doing. Learn by caring.
  • Diverse teams
  • Open + transparent



The State of the Internet project has three phases.

The goal of the first phase, Engage, is to define and select several product and technology-focused Explorations. These Explorations -- revolving around potentially game-changing ideas to address a particular State of the Internet issue -- will be geared to test our assumptions around ‘what must be true’ for Mozilla to generate the expected mission impact and business value. Again, the Surveillance Economy is only the first issue for the first set of Explorations.

This phase entails deep engagement with a diverse set of external experts to challenge us, as well as continuous engagement with Mozilla employees and communities for new ideas -- and to later vet these ideas and their assumptions.

We expect this phase will take approximately 3-4 months for each issue. Analysis of different issues or geographies can be run in parallel in this phase. We spent 10 weeks on the Engage phase for the Surveillance Economy.

In the second phase of Operating Explorations, we’ll run the Explorations to generate empirical evidence on the validity of their likely impact and business value hypotheses. This phase can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the Exploration.

The third phase, Expand, will occur only for those Explorations for which we’ve gathered good signals that they’re the right strategic path. These validated Explorations will be further developed and resourced as longer term, strategic investments.

Stay Informed + Get Involved

  • Email:
  • Join #stateoftheinternet on Slack (Staff + NDA Contributors)

We will post updated information on engagement opportunities here as well as on our Slack channel.

As of February 2020, we are evaluating ideation and innovation management platforms with an eye towards working closely with our communities and expert networks, as well as employees across the org.

For employees, we have also set up ‘innovation rotations’ through which they can take temporary leave of their regular jobs to participate in short-term, early stage projects that advance our work to address the State of the Internet (SOTI). Please see information that's been posted internally on this, or drop us a line through one of the channels above.

Surveillance Economy

Follow the link for more on the Engage phase around the Surveillance Economy