Nabiha Syed
Nabiha Syed, Mozilla Foundation's incoming Executive Director

Delight -- absolute delight -- is what I felt when my parents brought home a Compaq Deskpro 386 for us to play with. It was love at first sight, thanks to games like Reader Rabbit, but I fell especially hard once we had a machine connected to the Internet. The unparalleled joy that comes from making things with and for other people was intoxicating. I can’t tell you how many hours were spent building Geocities websites for friends, poring over message boards, writing X-Files fan fiction, exchanging inside jokes and song lyrics on AIM and ICQ chats with friends and far-flung cousins across the world.

Actually, I could tell you. In detail. But it would be embarrassing.

Years later I would learn that the ability to share, connect, and create is rooted in how the Internet works differently than the media preceding it. The Internet speaks standards and protocols. It links instead of copying. Its nature is open. You don’t need permission to make something on the Internet. That freedom holds enormous potential: At its best, it helps us explore history we didn’t know, build movements to better the future, or make a meme to brighten someone’s day. At its best, the Internet lets us see each other.

That magic -- this power -- is revolutionary. Protecting it, celebrating it, and expanding it is why I’m so excited to join the Mozilla Foundation as its executive director.

I started my career as a media lawyer to protect those who made things that helped us see one another, and the truth about our shared world. Almost fifteen years ago, I co-founded and built a media law clinic to train others to do the same. After a stint at a law firm, I joined BuzzFeed as its first newsroom lawyer, which felt sort of like being a lawyer for the silliest and most serious parts of the internet all at the same time. In other words, I was a lawyer for the Internet at its best.

I am not naive about the Internet at its worst. From the Edward Snowden disclosures to a quick trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, much of my career has confronted issues of surveillance -- including of my own religious community. I watched as consumers became more concerned about surveillance and other harms online, and so we built an accountability journalism outlet, The Markup, to serve those needs. The Markup’s mission is to help people challenge technology to serve the public good, which intentionally centers human agency. So we didn’t just write articles: Our team imagined and made things people used to make informed choices. Blacklight, for example, empowers people to use the Web how they want, by helping them see the otherwise invisible set of tracking tools, watching them as they browse.

The through-line of my career has been grappling with how technology can uplift or stifle human agency. I choose the former. I bet you do too.

The through-line of my career has been grappling with how technology can uplift or stifle human agency. I choose the former. I bet you do too.

Nabiha Syed, Mozilla Foundation's incoming Executive Director

This, of course, brings me back to the Mozilla Foundation. In our particular moment – as we’re deploying large-scale AI systems for the first time, as we’re waking up home pages from their long rests, and trying to “rewild” the Internet beyond walled gardens – I can think of no other place that has the ability, to help people shape technology to achieve their goals on their own terms. And there is no more important time.

After all, the world we live in now was once someone’s imagination. Someone dreamt, and then many someones built, the Internet, and democracy, and other wild-eyed ideas too. We can imagine a future that centers human agency, and then we can build it, bit-by-byte. In this wildly unpredictable moment in 2024, it certainly feels like it’s up for grabs as to whether technology will be used to liberate us or shackle us. But that also means it’s up to us – if we act now.

With your help, together we can imagine and create the Internet we want. Not what Zuckerberg, Pichai, Musk, or any other tech titan wants – we can imagine and make what you want, on your own terms. Making things on your own terms is a team sport, and that’s why I’m especially thrilled to be joining Laura Chambers (CEO, Mozilla Corporation), Moez Draief (Managing Director,, Mohamed Nanabhay (Managing Partner, Mozilla Ventures), Mitchell Baker (Executive Chair of the Board), and Mark Surman (President, Mozilla) as part of Mozilla’s senior leadership team.

Technology’s come a long way since that Compaq, and it’s moving faster than ever before. My young boys won’t experience the Internet through Geocities or X-Files fan fiction or dial-up modems (probably?).* But it’s my mission to make sure they – and all of us – do have the sense of delight I felt at the dawn of our connected age: The unparalleled joy that comes from making things with and for other people.

Always yours,



*They will, however, have Pikachu. There’s always Pikachu.

**There’s an important corollary to all this. I (and we at Mozilla) don’t have all the good ideas. We never will. So, consider my inbox to be yours. Got an idea? Let’s talk: [email protected]