Mozilla, publishers of Firefox, acquired the team behind AI-based workplace collaboration product Pulse, announcing that they will work on Mozilla’s growing portfolio of products.
The Pulse workplace collaboration product helped teams collaborate better by automatically managing their Slack presence, creating “focus times” that allow users to work without interruption, and display color-coded do no disturb notices when team members were in meetings.
Pulse was a product created specifically for today’s hybrid workplaces.
According to the archived Pulse page:
“Adjusts with your work hours
Pulse puts an end to the ‘Always On’ culture by helping manage your team’s expectations around your availability — so teammates know when is best to connect with you and respect your boundaries.
Pulse uses AI to automatically display when you enter a focused state so your teammates know not to disturb.
You can also set calendar rules which change your status to show you’re focusing during blocked focus time or events marked as focus.”
The announcement did not hint at the future direction the new team will take within Mozilla.
However the fact that Pulse was a workplace collaboration product is notable.
It makes for interesting speculation that the acquisition may help Mozilla to begin introducing business-oriented products.
The quality that sets Mozilla apart from other companies is their commitment to creating products that don’t spy on or turn their users into a product to resell to marketers.
Free is increasingly common. Any product that can deliver quality at a free or near-free price and also respect user privacy would be increasing their value over more established products from companies like Google or Microsoft.
Google rapidly grew their email product by offering staggering amounts of storage space for free. Mozilla is doing with privacy what Google did with free, using it as a value-add that other companies do not offer.
And that edge is what makes the Pulse acquisition interesting because their machine learning expertise can be used to build privacy-forward consumer (and maybe business) products.
Ethical Machine Learning
The Pulse service used machine learning to help learn a user’s work patterns but in a way that respected their privacy, what Mozilla referred to as “applied ethical machine learning.”
According to Mozilla:
“Machine learning (ML) has become a powerful driver of product experience. At its best, it helps all of us to have better, richer experiences across the web.
Building ML models to drive these experiences requires data on people’s preferences, behaviors, and actions online, and that’s why Mozilla has taken a very cautious approach in applying ML in our own product experiences.
It is possible to build machine learning models that act in service of the people on the internet, transparently, respectful of privacy, and built from the start with a focus on equity and inclusion.”
First Project Announced
The first project the team will work on is improving Mozilla’s social sharing app called, Pocket.
Pocket is an app for saving content as well as sharing it with others. The app is available on a mobile device or desktop.
The author of the Mozilla announcement is Chief Product Officer, Steve Teixeira. He was hired by Mozilla in August 2022. Steve formerly worked at Twitter as Vice President of Product for their Machine Learning and Data platforms, and before that led the infrastructure Product Management, Design and Research team at Facebook.
Mozilla Chief Product Officer, Steve Teixeira, wrote:
“I’m particularly excited to enhance our machine learning capabilities, including personalization, in Pocket, a fantastic product that has only just scratched the surface of its ultimate potential.”
Mozilla offered no hint of future products beyond working on Pocket. They only published that they are looking forward to adding the Pulse team’s expertise to their growing suite of products.
“We are energized by the chance to work together, and I can’t wait to see what we build.”
It will be very interesting to see what Mozilla comes up with with the team acquired with Pulse.
Read the official announcement:
Pulse Joins the Mozilla Family to Help Develop a New Approach to Machine Learning
Featured image by Shutterstock/Kateryna Onyshchuk