May 17, 2005  ·  Lessig


I’ve been living in a state of total denial about this fact, but it’s time to confront it. Glenn Brown has left Creative Commons to take a job at Google (tftlt)(too famous to link to). This is fantastic news for Glenn. It is of course a big loss for us. Not unexpected — there’s only so far one can grow (and only so long one can sacrifice) in a nonprofit. But even if it has always been expected, we will all feel his absence for a long long time.

Glenn was CC’s second ED. Molly Shaffer Van Houweling incubated the project as a fellow at Stanford before she became a professor of law at Michigan. I was very proud to convince Glenn to replace Molly. Glenn was (is) young. He had just completed a clerkship after just completing law school. He had been a student of mine at Harvard. But despite being young, I knew from that time that he would be the ideal executive director to get Creative Commons launched.

He was first, and crucially, a lawyer. That was essential to an organization that gives away free licenses. But more importantly, he has a sense of message and design that I knew we crucially needed. He is a beautiful writer, a perfectionist in all things expressive, and he worked as hard as anyone could to focus and lead Creative Commons to spread our meme. He was the perfect antidote to an organization started by a bunch of professors, and he built extraordinary loyalty and devotion from everyone within our team. On his watch, the brand was born, and the licenses spread from zero to over 12,000,000. He more than any other single person made Creative Commons.

We miss him (though he still yells at me whenever I screw up (or whenever he notices)). And I am forever grateful for the extraordinary work this startup-CEO accomplished.

As described in the previous post, Neeru has taken charge of the Culture Commons project. Mia has taken over his role as GC. And I’m to be the one to build the loyalty and inspiration of the remaining CC team — though nothing I could ever do would come close to his amazing success.

To those living in, and building, the free world, please join me in thanking this extraordinary leader in whatever way you can.

  • Peeter P. M�tsk�la

    This move might even be good not only for Glenn and Google, but to CC and the free culture movement in general.


    Because by becoming increasingly useful, Google is also becoming increasingly powerful. Knowledge is power. Google is reshaping the internet — or at least the way we’re using the internet — and more and more paths to the information pass the Google’s “gate”. Google says they’re not evil — but what if they will eventually be taken over by someone who is? What then, and how to avoid that?

    I’ve been pondering about whether (and when) Google could take the next step — make their core engine both open-source and P2P (peer-to-peer). If this “gateway to knowledge” were open and everywhere, no single entity, however evil, could possibly gain control over it.

    And if Glenn were to succeed spreading the CC message inside Google, we’d all get a chance to live in a better, more informed and less evil world.

  • iProceed

    Lawrence, I often read your articles in Wired and visit your blog often. Great work that you do and keep it up. I understand that loss of one person means a lot but I also like to believe that we are replaceable.

  • Jason

    Very sad to hear about the loss of Glenn from the CC’s, but happy that he is moving forward to something like Google. I had the opportunity to meet Glenn when he spoke a couple of years ago at UNC-Chapel Hill to a group of upcoming library/info science students, thanks in no small part to Paul Jones (of pushing to bring him there. This was early in the Creative Commons push, and Glenn was expressive and passionate about what he saw as the future of the CC’s.

    It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.