#50: The Brave Cookie Monster - Brendan Eich

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Brendan Eich is widely regarded as a ‘Father of the Web’. He is the creator of JavaScript and cofounder of Mozilla and the Firefox browser. JavaScript is one of the three core programming languages and underpins over 90% of the web, including websites like Facebook and Google.

In 2015, Brendan cofounded Brave Software, where he is also CEO. Brave provides a browser that blocks websites from dropping ‘cookies’ on users, thereby preventing adtrackers. At Brave, Brendan also led a successful ICO in 2017 and has received investment from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.

In this episode, Joe caught up with Brendan at Brave HQ in San Francisco to discuss: the heady days at Netscape during ‘The First Browser War’ when Brendan was hired by billionaire Marc Andreessen to develop a secret weapon against Microsoft; the epic tale of the ten-day creation of JavaScript; the art of coding; the story of Mozilla; why the world needs Brave, and how to build products people will love.

Show notes

Selected links

Topics discussed

  • Were tech and computer science held in the same esteem as they are today when Brendan was studying in the early 80s? [8:36
  • Netscape finally recruits Brendan, in 1995. [10:18]
  • What is billionaire tech entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen like? [12:21]
  • “The First Browser War”. [14:35]
  • “Robin takes over the batcave” and “there must always be two”. [17:52]
  • What was the prevailing office environment at Netscape during the 1990s? [20:26]
  • The creamery meeting that decided JavaScript. [23:50]
  • Microsoft looms in the rear vision mirror. [27:00]
  • A layman’s definition of a programming language. [30:07]
  • The art of coding. [32:30]
  • Where did JavaScript fit in the family tree of languages? [35:05]
  • The naming of JavaScript. [36:55]
  • “Flow state” (Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi) and why programmers get mad. [38:23]
  • The challenges of creating a language. [43:02]
  • The scale and significance of JavaScript. [44:14]
  • How JavaScript helped to enable ads and ad-tracking. [46:13]
  • Digital advertisers need “skin in the game”. [52:19]
  • Does Google view ad-blockers as a strategic threat? [57:03]
  • The Mozilla story. [1:03:56]
  • Why did Brendan found Brave? [1:10:25]
  • The Basic Attention Token - Brave’s token on the Ethereum blockchain. [1:14:48]
  • Unionising users. [1:16:13]
  • Will Brave ever be a mass market browser? [1:17:40]
  • How does Brendan think about hiring and attract great talent to Brave? [1:18:40]
  • What are Brendon’s lessons for building a product users will love? [1:23:07]
  • A nice growth hack for early stage startups. [1:25:02]
Jolly Swagmen