Driving the future of the internet with Adam Bouhenguel

Adam Bouhenguel has teamed up with Mozilla to explore new ways of building ecosystems to help developers work on the next generation of the web.

Now more than ever, we need a movement that ensures the internet remains a force for good. This post introduces the Mozilla Internet Ecosystem (MIECO) program, which is driving this movement by supporting people who want to drive a more human-centric Internet. With MIECO, Mozilla aims to drive a new era of internet innovation, moving away from “things quick and broken” and toward a more focused, collaborative effort that includes voices and perspectives from many different companies and organizations.

Today we’re highlighting the work of Adam Bouhenguel, who has been collaborating with Mozilla to explore new ways of building ecosystems to help developers work on the next generation of the web.

Adam Bouhenguel has been building things for a long time.

“As a kid, I would go to museums and fairs and look at machines that people had built or replicas of famous machines from history, and then I would go home and build them out of Lego bricks,” Adam said of his South Florida childhood.

A friend once told him that her cousin built games on calculators, so Adam carried around programming books until he learned to code. “I spent a lot of time writing the things I wanted to play,” Adam recalls. “So that was always a strong motivation for me.”

Adam competed in programming and math competitions in high school. Before graduating, he did an internship in Motorola’s robotics group, where he developed software that eventually shipped with the company’s cell phones. Adam then attended MIT and continued to work for Motorola during this time.

“I realized how powerful tools can be,” Adam said. “If you have the right tools and the right ideas about what those tools are supposed to do, you can go much further than you otherwise could.”

Adam’s love of technology and building found its first home at YCombinator in 2007, where he founded his first company with the aim of simplifying the process of mobile phone software development. At the time, the iPhone hadn’t been announced, and Adam was already thinking about how to make it easier for creators and developers – a mission he’s continued to work on for the past 15 years.

Today, Adam uses his experience as a founder and community advocate to work with Mozilla on new ways to support developers, researchers, and individuals willing to be part of a larger movement for change in the way we do things build internet.

When Imo Udom joined Mozilla as Senior Vice President of Innovation in late 2021, he knew that building a future home for innovation that could continue to fuel the growth of Mozilla over the past 25 years would require new ways of thinking about how we work together. In late 2022, Mozilla launched the first cohort of the Mozilla Internet Ecosystem (MIECO) program, where Imo worked closely with Adam to understand the landscape faced by researchers, computer scientists, and developers and to find ways to address the changing dynamics to support building technology. MIECO is an opportunity to change the way we think about developing software from a single business model to one based on community and open collaboration.

Exploring new ways of collaborating is a theme that runs through Adam’s work. His current MIECO projects, which include the Open Retrospective Contributor Agreement (ORCA), Metered.dev, and Research Portfolio, all aim to provide developers and researchers with new tools to share and iterate on their work. As more and more people around the world gain access to the internet, Adam sees a need for different models of attribution and sharing of the value created by different projects and ideas.

ORCA, which allows maintainers of open source projects to fund contributors, is just one example of an experimental new approach that could encourage more organizations and individuals to work openly. Adam says that ensuring that people’s work is recognized and valued will encourage innovation and lead to better products on the market. While ORCA is still in its infancy, it shows promise in helping people change the way they think about what the future of rewards in tech ecosystems might be.

Adam believes that for developers, easier monetization of their work will lead to more sharing of ideas, with the ultimate goal of creating better solutions to some of the toughest problems we face as a society today. With that goal in mind, he created Metered.dev, a platform where developers can easily publish and bill for the software they create, and Research Portfolio, a way for researchers to chronicle the influential work that has shaped their own and reward thinking.

Adam said that ensuring that people’s work is recognized and valued will encourage innovation and lead to better products on the market.

Ultimately, Adam hopes that people will be inspired to think more deeply about the software they choose to use.

“We’ll see what things are based on and what they’re inspired by,” Adam said. “We can give credit to these ideas, which are becoming the software we depend on and benefit from.”