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This Much I Know: John Lilly, Partner at Greylock, on ‘product intentionality’ and humility in venture

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‘The best founders are intentional around product,’ says John Lilly, Partner at Greylock and former CEO at Mozilla. ‘It’s about how you understand user needs and be intentional about matching those needs, figuring out what people really truly need, and building the right thing for that.’

John joined Greylock as a partner in 2011, leading their investments in Dropbox, Tumblr and Instagram. Prior to Greylock, John was CEO of Mozilla – the organization behind Firefox, the open source Web browser used by more than 450 million people. John also co-founded Reactivity, an enterprise security infrastructure company acquired by Cisco in 2007, where he served as founding CEO and later CTO. Earlier in his career, John held positions on the executive team at Trilogy Software and as a Senior Scientist in Apple’s research labs.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, John discusses the evolution of his views around product intentionality and the importance of putting users first. He discusses his transition from product, technology and operationally focused roles at Reactivity and Mozilla, to investment.

At the early stage, he argues, venture capital is about betting on founding leadership teams and vision. ‘In consumer internet especially you just learn this profound humility because you just can’t figure out things a priori’.

Learn more about how Firefox was scaled from 3% to 25% of web browser users, why it is sensible to prioritise user needs, and why the position of COO will always be amorphous.

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