Spotlight On: Mozilla’s Jascha Kaykas-Wolff

jascha-mozillaWhen most people think about free software, Mozilla’s popular Firefox browser probably comes to mind. But according to chief marketing officer (CMO) Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, the company is much more than that.

According to Kaykas-Wolff, while the organization does focus a lot of its energy around product development, it’s also investing considerably in core technologies of the Internet. For example, Mozilla has a policy organization, legal counsel and business team. The latter focuses on what is referred internally as “policy hacking,” where the company looks at global legislation that’s going to be passed and then works on proposing changes in the best interests of people on the Internet.

“A great example of that is the last FCC look at Net neutrality. It was our team that did the policy hacking, and made the suggestions and actually wrote the language that the FCC adopted that drove forward language of discussing the Internet right now,” Kaykas-Wolff says.

Getting the word out about so many initiatives could be a daunting task for most marketing teams, but Mozilla relies on its strong communities to spread the word, a strategy that’s been successful in real world meet-ups like MozFest, an annual conference that draws 1,600 attendees from 50 countries. Kaykas-Wolff is hoping to transition that real-world following to a stronger digital marketing strategy. 

“The idea of being marketed to is something that’s relatively distasteful generally, but one thing Mozilla has done very well since its inception is involve community in the development of our story and our products,” he says. “What we haven’t done and what we will be doing is taking that more digitally. There’s somewhat of an irony in that. We’ve been very good at community-building. We’re really developing the stories that we want to bring to market. We just need to express that more digitally and globally.”

One of Mozilla’s main principles is its commitment to openness and transparency, a stance that Kaykas-Wolff says will only become stronger as the brand beefs up its digital presence to bring its many platforms to the right audiences. He doesn’t think that there has to be anything shady about bringing the right message to the right audience. Mozilla makes a point of letting users know what data is being collected and why, a strategy he thinks other organizations should strive for.

Kaykas-Wolff believes the industry has done itself an injustice over the last 15-20 years, in that marketers have not transparently expressed to consumers what data they’re collecting, and what they plan to do with it. Because of that availability of information, CMOs have had to start working closely with chief technology officers (CTOs).

“What I think is lacking is that it’s important to have that strong technical capability in marketing, but there’s another relationship in marketing that’s lacking,” Kaykas-Wolff says. “That’s the chief privacy officer. Those two have to have the same relationship that the CMO and the CTO have. It is our responsibility in marketing to have the best interests of our customer in mind. And to do that properly in a modern marketing world, we have to understand and be the best advocates for ethical data usage in our business. That’s going to happen with a smart relationship with the CPO.”

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