Blake Ross cannot visualize things in his mind. If asked to imagine a beach, he instead thinks about the concepts that make up a beach. Ross was unaware that most people could visualize things until last year, and he is 30. Although afflicted by this rare inability, he still managed to create Mozilla Firefox, a breakthrough web browser that salvaged the less successful open source program Netscape.
Ross was born in Florida. At age 15, he moved to California to pursue an internship with Netscape, even though Internet Explorer at the time dominated the industry. After gaining experience, Ross decided to make a more streamlined browser, and the Mozilla Project was born. The first software in the suite and in many ways the flagship development, Firefox, was immensely popular, and became the first real competitor to Internet Explorer. Other popular software developed by Ross include Thunderbird, the mail program in the Mozilla suite, and Parakey, a separate program that he sold to Facebook for a large profit.
Along with the acquisition of Parakey came Ross himself, who worked for Facebook as Director of Product. He worked for them until 2013, and in August he was hired by Uber to help them develop their product. Evident in Ross’s work is an ambition to stay at the forefront of development and technology. He started at age 15, jumped into a field he was interested and good at, found a product that was underdeveloped, worked on that until it gained attention, then switched to another big name in another sphere. After tackling the challenge of social media under Facebook, he has now switched to innovating in transportation.
Ross innovates by finding what is currently redefining the way Americans live their lives. His biggest project, Firefox, was inspired by the struggles his mother had with the current web browsers. He also has the ambition to back up this relentless pursuit of advancement, as evidenced by the early age at which he started pursuing his career. Ross is smart enough to be part of the largest innovations of the twenty-first century, and motivated enough to work on three of them so far.