Mozilla CEO Steps Down; Company Says It “Must Do Better”

mozillaAmid growing concern over his stance on equal marriage rights, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has decided to step down from his role atop the Internet biggie; a job he only began in March. At the same time, Mozilla’s leadership is issuing an apology to those who took issue with its decision to put the company co-founder in that CEO position.

Eich was the creator of the JavaScript language and a well-known and respected figure in the tech field. But at the core of the criticisms against him was a donation he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state.

This donation became a public matter in 2012, while Eich was still Chief Technology Officer at Mozilla. While the news drew some negative attention to Mozilla at the time, it wasn’t until the company named him CEO in March 2014 that people really began to care.

Most notably, online dating site OKcupid recently “blocked” the site for users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser (it actually just put up an announcement that made it look like the site was blocked but gave users the option to click through to continue using on the browser) to bring attention to Eich’s past.

“If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal,” wrote OKcupid in its explanation of its overtly anti-Eich move. “Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

Eich tried to quell concerns about his stance on marriage equality, writing in late March that, “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion,” while admitting that “I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to ‘show, not tell’; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

In a blog post from this afternoon, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote about Eich’s leaving and said the company “prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it.”

“We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” she continues. We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”