Mozilla's new CEO causes a stir

March 25, 2014 | 10:40

Tags: #boycott #brendan-eich #firefox #firefox-os #politics #proposition-8

Companies: #mozilla #mozilla-foundation

The not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation, the group behind the development of open-source applications including the Firefox browser and its new HTML5-powered Firefox OS offshoot, has a new chief executive officer - and his appointment has ruffled a few feathers.

The Foundation announced late last night that chief technology officer Brendan Eich, a co-founder of the Mozilla Foundation, is to immediately take on the role of chief executive at the foundation's wholly-owned business-oriented subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation. The news comes amid a number of executive-level shake-ups, including the appointment of Li Gong as chief operating officer with a newly expanded reporting group. Jay Sullivan, the Foundation's acting CEO up to this point, is to leave the Foundation altogether 'to pursue new opportunities.'

'I would first like to thank Jay Sullivan for his contributions to Mozilla and to the Web. He has been a passionate force at Mozilla whose leadership, especially during the last year, has been important to our success, in particular with Firefox OS,' Eich claimed upon taking on the mantle of CEO. 'I am honoured to have the role of leading Mozilla, as we look forward to our audacious goals across all of our products and the project as a whole.'

Although Eich has the support of the board, for some the appointment doesn't sit well thanks to Eich's political beliefs. Eich is reported to have donated $1,000 in support of the US Proposition 8, a proposed law which would have banned gay marriage outright. Although a droplet in the overall finances of the battle - the LA Times, in documenting Eich's donation, shows $39 million having been donated overall in support of the ban compared to $44.1 million donated against - it's enough for those who would have been severely affected by the ban to question his suitability for the leading role at a supposedly inclusive and meritocratic open source institution.

Rarebit, a start-up company founded by a married gay couple who had protested against Proposition 8, has become the first to announce a formal boycott of Mozilla under Eich's rule. 'Effective today, we’re removing Color Puzzle from the Firefox Marketplace and stopping work on all of our Firefox-related applications, notably the about-to-launch Firefox version of the popular Dictionary! app for iPhone and Android,' chief executive Hampton Catlin explained. 'We will continue our boycott until Brendan Eich is completely removed from any day to day activities at Mozilla, which we believe is extremely unlikely after all he’s survived and the continued support he has received from Mozilla.'

Neither Eich nor Mozilla have commented on Rarebit's boycott, nor on Eich's personal donation to the pro-Proposition 8 cause.
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