Eich steps down from Mozilla over equal rights furore

April 4, 2014 // 10:34 a.m.

Tags: #brendan-eich #equality #equal-rights #firefox #gay-rights #mitchell-baker #mozilla #mozilla-corporation #mozilla-foundation #proposition-8

Controversial chief executive of the Mozilla Corporation Brendan Eich has stepped down, both as CEO and as a member of the Mozilla board, following public outcry over a political donation in opposition to gay marriage.

Eich, the inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of Mozilla, was upgrade from chief technical officer to chief executive officer late last month in a private vote by the board, which immediately led to calls for a boycott against the non-profit company. Those calling for his dismissal pointed to a personal donation of $1,000 Eich made to lobbying efforts in favour of Proposition 8, a US law which would have made gay marriage illegal. Those who support equality, not to mention people in gay marriages, were naturally opposed to the proposition.

While Eich's tenure as CTO appeared to slip under the radar, his appointment to the post of CEO did not. Many, including numerous Mozilla employees and project contributors, questioned how a man who has made a public donation in efforts to curtail others' rights could possibly lead an organisation that prides itself on inclusiveness. A statement by Eich failed to address the donation at all, merely pledging to continue to support - and to improve - inclusiveness at the company.

Now, with the public still baying for blood, Eich is out. 'Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO,' executive chair Mitchell Baker announced late yesterday. 'He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

'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,
' admitted Baker. '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.'

'I’ve resigned as CEO and I’m leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at problems from other angles, and see if the “network problem” has a solution that doesn’t require scaling up to hundreds of millions of users and winning their trust while somehow covering costs,' Eich announced in a personal blog post. 'That’s a rare, hard thing, which I’m proud to have done with Firefox at Mozilla. I encourage all Mozillians to keep going. Firefox OS is even more daunting, and more important. Thanks indeed to all who have supported me, and to all my colleagues over the years, at Mozilla, in standards bodies, and at conferences around the world. I will be less visible online, but still around.'

No successor to the role of CEO has yet been named.

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