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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 4 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 14
Mozilla CEO resigns
Section One
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Mozilla CEO resigns

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Embattled Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is out after less than two weeks at the helm of the software giant.

Eich, named Mozilla's CEO on March 24, was famous for two things: he created JavaScript, and he donated $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign to repeal same-sex marriage in California.

Eich's appointment touched off calls for a boycott of Mozilla products spearheaded by Mozilla Firefox developer Hampton Catlin and his husband Michael.

By March 30, Mozilla felt compelled to issue a statement reaffirming its corporate commitment to LGBT rights. Even Eich issued a statement about his 'commitment to equality.'

But it was not enough. On April 1, dating website OKCupid began asking its one million users to boycott Mozilla's Firefox browser.

Even anti-Gay groups got in on the act. NOM's [National Organization for Marriage] former chairman Robert George called on Christians to boycott Mozilla in protest of the company's pro-Gay press statement of March 30.

Finally the pressures on Eich and his fellow executives proved to be too much to handle.

On the morning of April 3, Mozilla posted a statement on its website announcing Eich's departure.

'Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO,' the statement read. 'He's made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

'Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.'

In an interview the same morning, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged.

'It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,' said Baker, who added that she would not and could not speak for Eich. 'The ability to lead - particularly for the CEO - is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.'

Baker said that Eich had not been forced to resign, but that he had been under 'pressure' from unnamed people.

'I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision,' Baker said. 'Given the circumstances, this is not surprising.'

Eich was a co-founder of the company and served as chief technology officer since 2005. In recent interviews, he had insisted that he was qualified and capable of leading Mozilla.

As late as the day before his resignation, he told the Guardian newspaper 'I think I'm the best person for the job and I'm doing the job.'

His views against same-sex marriage were not out of the mainstream, he claimed, at least not globally. Same-sex marriage was 'not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that's in the future, right now we're in a world where we have to be global to have effect,' Eich told the newspaper.

For its part, Mozilla apologized for its handling of the controversy.

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

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