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Mozilla CEO resigns due to anti-gay donation backlash

Mozilla Firefox Logo
Mozilla Firefox Logo

It was clear that Mozilla was in hot water for promoting Brendan Eich as their new CEO when half of their board members quickly resigned, and Mozilla employees started calling for Eich to immediately step down. Eich eventually resigned today, but not until after a massive campaign called for his removal due to his stance on LGBT equality.

Eich donated $1,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California to help take away the right to marry from same-sex couples back in 2008. The Proposition 8 campaign compared gay people to pedophiles and likened same-sex marriage to bestiality. Employees of the company found it hard to understand how Mozilla, an organization with an inclusive culture, could choose someone with anti-equality views to run their operations.

It wasn't long before employees started speaking out on twitter. On March 27th, Sunny Lee, an employee in San Francisco posted the following message on the social networking site: “I'm an employee of @mozilla and I cannot reconcile @BrendanEich as CEO with our culture & mission. I cannot support @BrendanEich as CEO.” Lee’s message was retweeted 128 times.

Chris McAvoy, an employee in Chicago said, “I'm an employee of @mozilla and I'm asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO.” McAvoy’s message was retweeted 256 times.

Numerous other employees also called for Eich’s resignation and people quickly took notice. After much pressure from employees, the media, and the community, Eich finally caved under the pressure. Mozilla released the following statement on their blog regarding Eich's resignation:

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.

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.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. 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.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.

We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.

What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.

We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.

Thank you for sticking with us.

Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman

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