Mozilla CEO resigns following backlash over opposition to same-sex marriage

brendan eich mozillaBrendan Eich, newly-appointed CEO of Mozilla, has stepped down, the company stated in a blog post. Eich has been facing a barrage of criticism and scrutiny following his appointment as CEO, due to donations he made in 2008 supporting California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Despite assurances from both Eich and Mozilla, who make the popular Firefox internet browser, that Eich’s personal views would not impact the company’s commitment to supporting its employees regardless of sexual orientation, the tidal wave of criticism from LGBT advocates, Mozilla employees and social media was evidently too much for the company to ignore. “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it,” the company wrote on its official blog. “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.”

Several Mozilla employees had taken to social media to criticize Eich and call for his resignation. Chris McAvoy, lead at Mozilla’s Open Badges, tweeted, “I love @mozilla but I’m disappointed this week. @mozilla stands for openness and empowerment, but is acting in the opposite way.” A creative lead at badges tweeted, “Have waited too long to say this. I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO.” The sentiment was echoed by an employee from Partnerships at Mozilla Foundation, John Bevan, “I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @BrendanEich to step down as CEO.”

Mozilla’s head of Education, Christie Koehler, didn’t opine on Eich’s suitability for the job of CEO when his appointment was announced, but did express disappointment over his Prop. 8 donations. “I was disappointed when I found out that Brendan had donated to the anti-marriage equality Prop. 8 campaign in California. It’s hard for me to think of a scenario where someone could donate to that campaign without feeling that queer folks are less deserving of basic rights.”

OkCupid, a popular dating site, went as far as to post a notice that only users who accessed the service with Firefox browser could read. They stated that “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendon Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” They offered alternative browsers for users to choose, though did not stop Mozilla users from accessing the site.

Mozilla is maintaining that Eich stepped down and wasn’t pushed from the job, despite the overwhelming criticism both have faced. “Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO,” the company said. “He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.” Mozilla’s Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, speaking with Re/Code following today’s announcement, stated “It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting. The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”

Baker continued on Mozilla’s official blog, writing that “While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.” She also reiterated Mozilla’s support for its employees, regardless of their background or identity, adding, “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.”

The question that remains is whether Mozilla has done enough to recover any lost ground. Baker seems confident that the scandal won’t hurt the company in the long run. “We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility,” she wrote. It could well be a case of too little, too late, though, for those LGBT users who have already jumped ship to another browser.

We’ve included Mozilla’s full statement below:

Mozilla 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.
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.
Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.
Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.
We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.
While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.
We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.
What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.
We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.
Thank you for sticking with us.

Mozilla 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.

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.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.

We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.

What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.

We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.

Thank you for sticking with us.


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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's assistant editor and covers cars, technology, and gaming. He is usually found with a controller in one hand and a smartphone in the other, and can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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