Mozilla CEO quits after anti-gay contribution controversy

Posted on 03 Apr 2014 at 4:27pm

Firefox logoAlthough I’m not big on boycotts, I do choose which companies I do business with. So I began posting an earlier version of this story on my newly downloaded version of Safari. When I heard Brendan Eich stepped down as CEO of Mozilla, however, I switched right back to Firefox.

Mozilla is the not-for-profit company that created the browser Firefox.

Soon after Eich was promoted on March 24, his $1,000 donation to support Proposition 8 that ended same-sex marriage in California for four years went public. Companies like OkCupid called on users to switch browsers.

In a series of interviews this week, Eich repeatedly refused to comment about the donation. In explaining his position and why he would remain at the head of the company that clearly includes LGBT equality as part of its corporate culture, he used twisted logic that a community like Mozilla should also support what many consider intolerant beliefs. Put another way, if you’re tolerant, you should tolerate my bigotry.

On Monday, Mitchell Baker, the chairwoman of Mozilla, wrote on her blog:

“Speaking as the Chairwoman, I want to speak clearly on behalf of both the Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation: Mozilla supports equality for all, explicitly including LGBT equality and marriage equality.”

This afternoon, Baker updated the Mozilla blog.

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

Eich is one of the creators of Firefox. When his donation first came to light in 2012, his coworkers at Mozilla were surprised. He had never shown any indication of personally opposing equality or working against any LGBT employee’s equality at the company.

“My experience is that Brendan is as committed to opportunity and diversity inside Mozilla as anyone, and more so than many,” Baker said.

Once Eich was named CEO, websites like OKCupid encouraged its users to try another browser.

“Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid,” the company wrote in a letter to its users.

OkCupid explained that 8 percent of the relationships the site help form would be invalid if Eich had his way.

Now that Eich is gone, Baker wrote, “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.”

OK. I tried using Safari. I didn’t really like it. Although I didn’t really want to use it, I felt like I couldn’t write the original story I had about Mozilla’s CEO on Firefox. Eich’s gone and I’m happy to say, I’m back.

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