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4/4/2014
09:25 AM
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Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns

Eich, who helped found Mozilla in 1998, steps down as CEO following criticism from employees and outsiders.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down as Mozilla's CEO, a position to which he was appointed two weeks ago, following objections from both inside and outside the company. Eich is also leaving Mozilla for an indeterminate amount of time.

Eich's appointment to helm Mozilla, known for its Firefox web browser and Firefox OS among other open-source projects, created a firestorm within the company and among the developer community upon which it depends. In 2008, Eich donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a California law approved by voters that banned same-sex marriage and was subsequently found to be unconstitutional.

Eich is not the only tech executive to have taken that position: In 2010, prior to becoming CEO of HP, Meg Whitman supported Proposition 8. She subsequently reversed her stance on the issue, as she noted in a post published through LinkedIn last year. And outside the executive suite, plenty of technology professionals at Apple, Google, and Microsoft, to name but a few companies, made donations in support of Proposition 8. But Mozilla's unusual status as a for-profit, public-benefit company under the non-profit Mozilla Foundation appears to bring with it a different set of expectations.

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Eich, the creator of JavaScript, helped found Mozilla in 1998 and became CTO of the company in 2005. Mozilla's previous CEO, Gary Kovacs, resigned a year ago. After that, COO Jay Sullivan served as acting CEO while Mozilla sought a replacement.

After being named CEO late last month, Eich took the opportunity to address doubts about his commitment to social equality and to express his "sorrow at having caused pain." In a blog post last week, he promised to support equality, to engage with the LGBT community and its supporters, and to uphold Mozilla's inclusive health benefits and its antidiscrimination policies.

But that failed to mollify critics. Last week, several Mozilla employees called via Twitter for Eich to step down, because they considered Eich's donation to be inconsistent with Mozilla's mission. The departure of three board members who did not support Eich's candidacy -- reportedly for reasons other than his support for Proposition 8 -- further weakened his position.

Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced Eich's decision in a blog post and issued an apology for failing to uphold organizational standards and for fueling the discord through inaction.

"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it," she said. "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."

That's the assessment offered by several purported Mozilla employees and managers on Glassdoor.com, a company review and employment website. Though Mozilla gets mostly positive reviews as a place to work, three recent posts (here, here, and here) lament the company's many executive departures, its leadership vacuum, and its insular culture.

In a discussion of Eich's departure on Hacker News, there's a similar mix of opinion, with some arguing that Eich shouldn't be punished for his political views. But others approve of the outcome. One person commenting under the username wtallis said, "Eich went beyond merely having and expressing an unpopular opinion. He took action to support the effort to have his opinion forced upon others by the government. He couldn't restrain himself to respectful disagreement, and that's why he's suffering more severe consequences."

Another possible consequence may be greater usage of shell companies and front organizations to shield political donors who may seek high-profile positions.

In a blog post Thursday afternoon, Eich said he is "leaving Mozilla to take a rest," to travel with his family, and to look at technical problems in a new light. He did not state explicitly whether his departure is permanent; he appears to have left the door open to continued involvement with Mozilla by noting, "I will be less visible online, but still around."

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 3:41:56 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
It was pro-family in the public policy sense. The best public policy (and the science and sociological studies confirm this) is where the maximum amount of children are raised by their biological parents. Therefore, any policy which promotes and supports that being the case would be good public policy. Anything that dilutes or discourages that, would be bad public policy. Granted, same-sex-marriage isn't the only problem, as no-fault-divorce already greatly damaged the instution of marriage. But, further damage isn't going to build a stronger society. Again, I'm talking public policy, not how two or more individuals choose to relate to each other. The State already permits same-sex-marriage, it just doesn't promote it, through licensing it.

And, if Mozilla were truly inclusive, it would also be inclusive of people who don't support same-sex-marriage. Doesn't anyone else find it a bit odd that an inclusivity policy's action is to exclude? If Eich had come into Mozilla, and started firing LGBT folks, or not hiring LGBT folks, that would be a different story. All he did was show he disagreed with this group. But, that's enough, I guess, for the thought-police to jump into action. You bow to the LBGT cause, or you pay the price. (Tolerance???)

In a perfect world, there would be no issue to deal with to begin with.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 2:20:05 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
If the market can dictate what public policies people are allowed to advocate, then the market is way too powerful.

 
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 2:16:01 PM
The worst part of this...
...is that it won't stop here.  Assuredly other pressure groups on both the left and the right are going to be scanning political contribution records for "enemy CEOs" they can raise a stink about so they'll be forced to resign.  And if you can take out a CEO, why not make an example of a mid-level executive?  Or an ordinary employee living paycheck to paycheck (the people in the worst position to fight back)?  Perhaps community activists can identify "evil oppressors" in their apartment complexes and sign up their neighbors to "petition" the landlord to evict them.  Or as long as plausible deniability can be maintained, why not arrange for baseball bats to be thrown through some front windows so the occupants of the vandalized homes have some incentive to keep their mouths shut?


Blacklisting is blacklisting.  Persecution is persecution.  Even when it's done by the Good Guys.

 
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 2:03:34 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
Perception plays a big part in everything.  You call what Eich donated to a 'pro-family' campaign.  I don't see how that campaign was pro-family at all.  Should his donation have affected his standing at Mozilla?  The perception of Mozilla, even the for-profit arm, as being more inclusive would seem to point toward yes.  In a perfect world, it wouldn't.  But, then again, in a perfect world Eich wouldn't have made his campaign donation.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 12:44:54 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
No doubt, that's probably what happened. It's just sad that people's ability to think is so degraded that such a thing would generate that kind of negative market force. I mean, other CEOs have donated as much as 10 MILLION to LGBT causes, yet this guy donates $1000 to a pro-family political campaign, a number of years ago, and gets this kind of witch-hunt reaction.

It's one thing to even be pro-LGBT, but quite another to be for bad public policy. Prop 8 (and other movements like it) aren't hateful or anti-LGBT necessarily, but simply promoting good public policy. That ANYONE should be opposed to it is a bad sign for the country. While I understand the activists failure to think it through, I'm saddened that average person seems to be so swayed (I think it's over 50% of the population now!).
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 12:38:30 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
Actually, from a buisness point of view, Eich was hurting Mozilla's brand.  The market spoke, and he resigned (or was pushed), which is a free marketer's dream.  Don't worry, he probably was handed a big check to asuage his feelings.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 12:28:03 PM
'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
I suppose this falls under the category of protest, and then a company reacting to the protest, but I find it ironic given the 'tolerance' position so often advocated by the LGBT crowd. Of course, that's just empty rhetoric, as the acivists forwarding this cause are zero-tolerance folks; you either promote their cause or you pay.

But, I wish there were a bit more actual thought put into this, especially from the general public. I understand falling for this if you're a follower of the activists, but I'm saddened about the general public being so easily taken in by the empty rhetoric of this position. They fall for words like 'equality' and 'rights,' when simply put same-sex-marriage is simply bad public policy. Now one can't be against bad public policy without retaliation from the angry mobs. Sad state of affairs, folks.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 11:55:53 AM
Re: Really
Well said, anon7252469949. Anyone not already in public service should be able to express their viewpoints respectfully. Those views should be treated with respect, even when we disagree. Just because he's a CEO doesn't mean he should be vilified for holding an opinion that others may not like.
DobriB895
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DobriB895,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2014 | 5:32:59 AM
FiredFox...
FiredFox... or The Shame of Mozilla
http://dobrisratings.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149836:the-shame-of-mozilla&catid=42&Itemid=111
GreenT481
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GreenT481,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2014 | 6:27:48 PM
LGBT Intolerance
Isn't it interesting that Mozilla's CEO was driven out of office by the group that demands the most tolerance for their views but gives the least in return? The LGBT community should be ashamed of themselves. They have been exposed as the true frauds that they are: selfish, self centered, intolerant bigots.
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