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.”

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  1. furiousd says:

    I hate seeing this sort of discrimination against people being allowed to live the way they choose. Whatever the current whim of the masses, it’s all but illegal to have a differing opinion. And in some situations, it has been made illegal.

    • furiousd says:

      “Unwilling to acknowledge this as a significant question on which reasonable people of goodwill can disagree, some advocates of redefining marriage increasingly characterize those with whom they disagree as “enemies of the human race.” They’ve sent a clear message: If you stand up for marriage, we will demonize and marginalize you.”

    • oomingmak says:

      Ironically, your comment can be read as describing Eich’s behavior as well. This was a man who donated $1000 to a cause that took away the rights of gay and lesbian people. While he’s entirely entitled to that opinion he’s also entitled to the repercussions of people upset by his actions.

      I have no problem that he resigned. If he had been fired that would be a different situation.

      • furiousd says:

        Ironically, your comment can be read as describing the behaviour of those who ousted Eich as well. First, it’s not ironic, which is another battle. Secondly, what’s different about the pattern of behaviour of the people who caused him to no longer be CEO as opposed to a theoretical situation: anti-gay groups oust Eich for supporting the redefinition of marriage? That’s right, whichever opinion happens to be popular at the moment. The problem that has developed in our country (perhaps in the world at large, I haven’t checked) is that people keep trying to force others to do what they want and to use the government to impose their will on others. Consumerist has posted many stories of people suing to force businesses to support their gay wedding. Is that right? No. Is it right for me to break into a gay couple’s home and tell them to stop being gay? No. The government exists to support the general welfare, not to back whichever special-interest group happens to be loudest at the moment. I should be able to indicate my support or opposition of policies on my own time without a veritable witch hunt coming to my door to lynch or burn me for my opinion. I thought we as a people could be better than that: to have a public discourse of opinions without getting mean.

  2. TheyLive says:

    Losing the creator of the JavaScript language. Wow!
    I hope Mozilla can keep up their good work without him.