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This profile was last updated on 10/7/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Mr. Luis Villa

Wrong Luis Villa?

Senior Director of Community Enga...

Local Address:  California , United States
Wikimedia Foundation , Inc.
149 New Montgomery Street 3Rd Floor
San Francisco , California 94105
United States

Company Description: The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other...   more

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • law
  • political science and computer science
    Duke University
187 Total References
Web References
Advisory Council - Open Definition - Defining Open in Open Data, Open Content and Open Knowledge, 7 Aug 2015 [cached]
Luis Villa
Luis Villa is Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation. Previously he was an associate in the Palo Alto office of the Greenberg Traurig law firm, where his practice focused on counseling companies on intellectual property, technology licensing and related matters, with a particular focus on open source licensing. His clients were both for-profits and non-profits, including Mozilla, the Wikimedia Foundation, Amazon, and Facebook. He also advised Google in the Oracle v. Google trial, and led the first revision of the Mozilla Public License in a decade. Luis is a director of the Open Source Initiative, and serves as an invited expert on the World Wide Web Consortium's Patents and Standards Interest Group. Before law school, Luis worked in software, including several years working on the GNOME Linux desktop at a small startup.
Your Moderator: The afternoon will be ..., 17 April 2013 [cached]
Your Moderator: The afternoon will be moderated by OSI board director and license committee chair Mr. Luis Villa. Mr. Villa is currently Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation. Previously he was an attorney at Greenberg Traurig and Mozilla, where he worked on the revision of the Mozilla Public License (MPL).
Mr. Luis Villa, OSI board director and Deputy General Counsel, WIkimedia Foundation
Portrait: Luis Villa, from ..., 18 April 2008 [cached]
Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association
In 10 years, Luis Villa has seen his career expand side by side with free and open source software (FOSS).Starting as bugmaster at Ximian, one of the companies that shaped GNOME as we know it today, he has been a mid-level manager at Novell, the coordinator of testing with the GNOME project, and a frequent member of the GNOME Foundation Board.More recently, Villa has been a student at Columbia Law School.When he graduates, he hopes to use his knowledge of how FOSS and business interact to benefit both.
PortraitsIn many ways, the outline of Villa's career has been obvious from his college days, when he took a double major in political science and computing.At the time, he had no idea that the two might be connected.
Before long, Villa saw the community as a place where his two interests could unite."I was very curious about the non-technical aspects from day one," he says."It was obvious to me that the core notion that a bunch of people could get together on the Internet and produce something was really revolutionary.It was just obvious that there was something important that was going on socially and politically."
Villa began doing quality assurance work for Mozilla.He made this choice, he says, largely because it enabled him to make small contributions without dedicating large blocks of time for any one project.By the time he graduated and started looking for work in Fall 2000, he had a modest reputation among friends for his understanding of Bugzilla, the well-known bug-tracking tool.
Ximian days
A couple of Villa's friends were among the early employees of Ximian.At first, Villa had little thought of joining them."I'm a good programmer, but I'm not a great programmer, and at that time Ximian was only hiring great programmers."
However, he says, "None of them could work Bugzilla to save their lives."When he was offered a position at Ximian, Villa also considered a Silicon Valley position that seemed to offer a fast track to wealth, but he accepted Ximian's offer because "I thought it would be a lot of fun."Four months later, the other company went bankrupt.
Villa joined Ximian at the height of the dot-com bubble.Referring to Ximian's monkey trademark and jungle-theme trade fair booth, Villa says, "We all had monkeys on our desks, and there was stuff like giving away massive piles of monkeys and that booth that were very dot-com.In some sense, we were a wild-eyed, kind of crazy startup, and I have some of the usual stories about living in the office for hours and hours and weeks."
At the same time, Ximian was interacting regularly with established companies who were showing their first tentative interest in FOSS.Because of that interaction, Villa thinks now, "We were pretty grounded.
Since Villa was testing core tools, the step from his daily job to volunteering at GNOME was a small one, and he was soon doing similar work as a volunteer in that community.
Villa's GNOME work, he says, was "Almost completely in testing.Other than hacking on Bugzilla itself, I think there's probably one line in GNOME by me.Frankly, I hate C [the programming language].I have more fun with the social stuff anyway, like working with the volunteers."
The task at GNOME, Villa says, was not getting people to file bugs, "but working to get them to file quality bugs.
At first, Villa remembers, "We were all pretty excited.We thought there would be great synergy."However, after 18 months, Villa, unlike many of his fellow employees from Ximian, decided to move on.
At Ximian, he explains, he was used to a flat hierarchy, and being able to be involved with many aspects of a project at once.By contrast, he says, "At Novell, extra levels of management came in, and you had to deal more with sales and marketing.
Just as importantly, Villa was becoming increasingly interested in the legal aspects of FOSS."It was becoming increasingly clear that open source could not ignore the legal rules, because the legal rules were not going to ignore it.So I became more and more curious, and I was living right across the street from Harvard Law School -- literally -- and that made the choice very easy for me."
Villa remembers talking with Eben Moglen at about his growing legal interests."I cornered him after his talk and said, 'Hey, should I go to law school?' And he said, 'No, no, no, don't go to law school.You'll end up deep in debt, and you'll have to do horrible things.Keep doing the good things you're doing.'"
Stalling, Villa became what he calls "geek in residence" at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, where he was in charge of organizing the various social projects that faculty developed from their research.His goal, he says, was to find out "whether I could stand being around lawyers all the time."
Finally, Villa chose to follow Moglen's example rather than his advice, and enrolled as a law student.Currently in his second year, he recently became editor-in-chief of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review.Although the journal has always published all of its content online, "We're not as astute about these things as we would like to be," Villa says."Whether or not law journals like it, they're going to be impacted by the Internet.So my goal as editor-in-chief is to see what I can do to help my journal and maybe all journals adopt."
The GNOME Foundation Board
Meanwhile, Villa continues to be serve on the GNOME Foundation Board, a position to which he has been elected four times.Just as testing in Ximian led to management, so it led to a leadership position in GNOME, he notes.He says that working with the board usually involves daily interaction with other board members, varying from a few email exchanges to practically full-time work, depending on what he is working on.
As a long-time board member, Villa says that one of the ongoing problems with the board is that many members are torn between their personal preferences and the responsibility of directing GNOME's future.
Unlike many in the FOSS community, Villa does not see the involvement of corporations in GNOME through the Foundation as a problem -- although he admits that, considering his past, he may not be the best judge of the situation.He points out that some aspects promoted by corporate Foundation members, including accessibility and usability, are ones that the hackers of the GNOME community might not have tackled by themselves.
The result, according to Villa, is that the divisions between community and corporate interests that many fear simply haven't materialized."I don't think there has ever been a significant one since I've been involved.I think our community is very pragmatic, and that means by and large that everybody understands that we're all on the same page."
Community and corporation
As Villa spoke with, he was looking forward to a summer associateship at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Silicon Valley, where he also hopes to work after being called to the bar.
Villa's goal is to continue to act as the bridge between community and corporate cultures that he has been in the past.
Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association Apr 18, 2008
Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association Apr 18, 2008
on Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association
Note: Comments are owned by the poster.We are not responsible for their content.
Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association
Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on April 18, 2008 09:33 PM A couple of small edits:Caption mispells his name - it's Luis - not LouisIt's the Berkman Center - not Beekman center
Re: Portrait: Luis Villa, from Bugzilla to bar association
Board - Annotated | Open Source Initiative, 28 Mar 2015 [cached]
Luis Villa
Luis Villa is a lawyer who has worked and volunteered in Open Source development since he was in college. Luis studied law at Columbia, where he graduated with honors, was Editor-in-Chief of the Science and Technology Law Review, and was awarded a prize for excellence in intellectual property studies. Before law school, Luis worked in software, including several years working on the GNOME Linux desktop at Ximian, later acquired by Novell. He also spent a year at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center as 'geek in residence', working on a variety of projects, including and the h2o educational web software project. Luis's undergraduate education was at Duke University, where he majored in political science and computer science, and got his first experience as an open source maintainer by hacking on the legOS operating system for Lego Mindstorms.
Your Moderator: The morning will be ..., 9 May 2013 [cached]
Your Moderator: The morning will be moderated by OSI board director and license committee chair Mr. Luis Villa. Mr. Villa is currently Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation. Previously he was an attorney at Greenberg Traurig and Mozilla, where he worked on the revision of the Mozilla Public License (MPL).
Mr. Luis Villa, OSI board director and Deputy General Counsel, WIkimedia Foundation
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