Biography, Net Worth, Founders Success
Blake Aaron Ross is an American software engineer and developer. His most notable entrepreneurial tech achievement was the creation of an open source Internet browser, Mozilla Firefox, with his colleague Dave Hyatt. While working at Netscape (one of the original Internet browsers), Ross became frustrated with the inner workings of the system. He imagined an Internet browser that was simple, resourceful, smaller, and one that would engage consumers of all ages. Firefox was an immediate success, and boasted nearly 100 million downloads in the first year. Ross was lauded with creating the first user-friendly and fast web browser. While Ross didn’t go into the technology field for money, he is now estimated to be worth nearly $150 million.
Blake Ross, Background
Blake Ross grew up around computers in his hometown of Key Biscayne, Florida. By age 10, he was already making websites and video games, and by middle school, he was developing software programs. While he was in high school, Ross was an intern at Netscape. In 2003, he moved to California to attend Stanford University, where he continued his position at Netscape. While working, he met his business partner Dave Hyatt. The two imagined an open source Internet browser that was solely purposed for “product and users, all day every day.” The two introduced Mozilla Firefox to the market in 2004, whilst Ross was merely a sophomore at Stanford, and witnessed immediate success and notoriety. The clean and easy to navigate Internet browser instantly trumped Netscape, and to this day retains a large portion of the market share.
Awards and Accolades
Ross was nominated for Wired magazine’s top Rave Award, Renegade of the Year. He also made Rolling Stone magazine’s 2005 Hot List. He was listed in Forbes magazine as one of “30 Under 30” Technology Award winners.
Blake Ross & Joe Hewitt
After the success of Mozilla Firefox, Ross embarked on his next entrepreneurial pursuit. Ross and Joe Hewitt (interface developer and coder for Firefox) founded Parakey. The idea of Parakey was to simplify the process of uploading images, videos, and writing to the web. Parakey acted as its own interface, and dissolved the need for consumers to go through programs such as Flickr or Blogger in order to upload images and videos. Facebook purchased Parakey in 2007 for an undisclosed sum; it was also Facebook’s first acquisition.
Ross continued with Facebook as Director of Product until 2013. He still remains friendly with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Ross’ most recent job title is Product Strategy Developer at Uber. Ross joined Uber part-time in August 2017 after being an “outspoken Uber-watcher on social media.” He has been working to turn around the company’s image, create a better workplace culture, and also quash the competition. Ross has been known to be highly competitive, outspoken, and vocal about his beliefs on social media.
Aphantasia & Illnesses
In 2016, at age 30, Blake Ross was diagnosed with a rare condition, aphantasia. It is the inability to visualize any kind of cerebral images. Ross describes the condition as not having a “canvas” in his mind. He understands concepts, such as water, sand, sun, and a lifeguard, but he cannot create a mental image of a beach in his mind. He has since been working on finding his “people,” others who also are diagnosed with this unusual condition.
Published Works: Firefox for Dummies
Ross authored two books: Firefox for dummies in 2006 and Prepper’s Vacation Guide: 35 Things to Do to Keep Your House Safe While You’re Away in 2017.
Ross also authored a Silicon Valley spoof episode, which was written with humor, depth, and it’s also hilariously accurate. The screenplay is a cathartic expression for Ross, who has been in the thresholds of Silicon Valley since he was 14. He has admitted to having a love/hate relationship with the neighborhood. He also cleverly stated, “Anyone who wants to write for Silicon Valley should have to work at AOL for a year.”
Ross has stated, “The next big thing is the one that makes the last big thing usable.”
This quote captures the essence of Blake Ross. He is constantly thinking of ways to make things better, simpler, and he challenges himself to create products that will benefit all mankind. He has previously stated that he “wasn’t trying to strike it rich with Firefox. It’s open source and it’s free.”
Ross has a smart sense of humor, and because he spent most of his young adult life in Silicon Valley, he finds it very easy to poke fun at the environment. Upon exiting Facebook, Ross wrote, “I’m leaving because a Forbes writer asked his son’s best friend Todd if Facebook was still cool and the friend said no, and this journalism made me reconsider the long-term viability of the company.”
Where You Can Find Blake Ross
Blake Ross keeps a relatively low profile on social media, however you can follow him on:
Blake Ross’ Medium has been quoted by CNBC, where he calls out Silicon Valley’s Wealthfront, and advises young people to simply choose a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund Account. Ross is outspoken, and has not yet shied away from voicing his opinions about issues he himself has thoroughly researched and engaged in. Nor is Ross reluctant about chastising his fellow Silicon Valley colleagues.
When Ross does post, he is thoughtful and insightful, and aims to provide advice that will benefit his readers.
Blake Ross is somewhat of an anomaly. Being enmeshed in the Silicon Valley atmosphere at such a young age has allowed him to witness the good, bad, and ugly side of technology. However, his main priority has always been to make products that are better, simpler, and easy to use for all.