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4/4/2014
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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.

[Want to know what makes an innovative company? See InformationWeek Elite 100: Winning Digital Strategies.]

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: Strategist
4/6/2014 | 1:33:11 PM
Re: The worst part of this...
Yea, I agree. Not that professional and private lives should be necessarily disconnected, but actual actions in one's professional life should be the measure. If he or Mozilla had done something discriminatory, then by all means, protest, get the resignation, etc. But, that wasn't the case here.
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
4/6/2014 | 1:29:39 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
The Status Quo has been smashed.  Some will look at that and blame whoever, in this case "the gay."  Others will celebrate.  The suits will try to find a solid spot to form a basis of a new status quo.  Enough people are not buying the 'pro-family' agenda any more (yay) and the suits have to take that into account.
ShaunWallace43
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ShaunWallace43,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2014 | 10:00:44 AM
Re: Golden Parachute
Ok, So where has he failed? As CEO helping build mozila and Java is awesome!

This is like feminism, PC madness. He has the right to believe whatever he wants and its what he wants. This is SO typical. I have met many feminists and gay people who insult men, insult straight people, Christians, anyone and everyone, but that's fine! Anyone step outa the PC line and you are squashed flat. ANTI-PC-POLICE

Yes LAGP were victimised but now being a white heterosexual MALE is the true victim! You guys honestly, for years you were persecuted, now you have become the persecutors, just because he holds different views to you. He can hold whatever views he wants and give to ant legal charity he wants.

Talk about hypocrites!

Shaun

 

 

 
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 7:03:03 PM
Re: Golden Parachute
The hate stuff is just rhetoric for the most part. Unfortunately, so many people are non-reflective in their thinking, that I'm sure some percentage of them actually belive it. For Christians, opposing someone trying to hurt themselves, and trying to do the best thing for society is a loving thing to do.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 7:02:23 PM
Re: The worst part of this...
I think we can draw a line between what people do in the personal lives and what they do on the job.  I have no objections whatever to boycotting a commercial firm that people judge to be engaging in unethical behavior; but doing so because of the peacefui political activities of the people in charge (or their employees, for that matter) on their own time and with their own money smacks of machine politics, and completely undermines the concept of free debate and without free debate there is no democracy.

Rights aren't worth much if only the state has to respect them.

 
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 7:00:18 PM
Re: Golden Parachute
I wouldn't even phrase it that way. He donated $1000 to a group trying to protect marriage and society from being distorted and damaged further. He may very well love gay people. The assumption that he doesn't shows that the LGBT activists don't even have a clue why many voted for Prop 8 (and are opposing the pressure and tactics they are using).
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 6:54:48 PM
Re: The worst part of this...
I agree, it certainly wouldn't stop there, and it won't. The bullies have used enough rhetoric to sway the general populace to their side, so this kind of thing is just getting going.

That said, I'm not necessarily against public pressure being put on a company to get it to change something. I'm not sure I'd automatically call that blacklisting or persecution. I'm more commenting on the hipocricy of this situation (in a number of ways), and saddened that the general public can no longer reason and think critically. If they were, a few bullies wouldn't be able to scare a company into bellying up to their every whim.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
4/5/2014 | 6:48:40 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
There is no discrimination going on. He supports the government maintaining good public policy. That has nothing to do with his responsibilities as a CEO. What exactly do you think he was going to so with his CEO powers?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2014 | 5:20:26 PM
Re: 'Tolerance' gang strikes again...
So your expectation is that someone actively supporting using the government to discrimination against gays would be neutral in a position where they have the power to do so in a corporation. How nieve can you be?
nfp_promoter
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nfp_promoter,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2014 | 5:15:12 PM
Brendan Eich Resigns
Sadly one can not support a cause that may be unpopular, but to paraphraise a once stated comment, I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.  In today's culture it's more like I do not agree with what you say and I'll do my best to smear your reputation.  Sadly I may be boycotting Firefox and using Internet Explorer.
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