Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns Over Controversial Statements

Mozilla, the non-profit that develops web browser Firefox, was in hot water this week, after it named Brendan Eich its CEO, even though he had contributed $1000 to a campagin for Proposition 8, which would have banned gay marriage in California. This happened in 2008, the same day as the elections that propelled Barack Obama to the Presidency.

Pressure had been mounting since 2012, when records of this contribution were made public. A group of people working hard to obtain marriage equality for same-sex couples campaigned against Eich, gathering 70 000 signatures on a petition asking him to resign if he was not able to support gay marriage.

Mozilla issed a press release regarding Eich’s resignation, stating its commitment to diversity:

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.

Though it is considered acceptable for business leaders to take political stances, one as divisive as opposing gay marriage can prove to be untenable for high profile leaders working in a very progressive environment like web development. Whilcoe Mozilla is considered one of the web’s leaders in promoting open source development and breaking down barriers, the anti-gay partisanship shown by its new CEO had a negative effect on how the company was perceived. Before his resignation, various companies boycotted Firefox as a sign of protest.

“Mozilla’s mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader”, Eich said in a statement this Thursday.

A few days ago, Eich was interviewed by tech site CNET, where he was more defiant and defended his right to free speech:

“Beliefs that are protected, that include political and religious speech, are generally not something that can be held against even a CEO. I understand there are people who disagree with me on this one. […] Separating personal beliefs here is the real key here. The threat we’re facing isn’t to me or my reputation, it’s to Mozilla.”

Mozilla is currently in the process of reorganizing its leadership.

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