Update 4/3/14 4:06pm: Mozilla has announced that Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO.
By Julissa Catalan
LGBT advocates in the tech industry and all over the world are in shock over Mozilla’s decision to name co-founder Brendan Eich as the company’s new CEO.
Per a Los Angeles Times report released in 2012, Eich made a $1,000 donation to Yes on 8, a campaign which supported California’s ban on same-gender marriage, Proposition 8.
Eich released a statement via his personal blog to address the controversy:
“I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” he said. “I can only ask for your support to have the time to ‘show, not tell’; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain … I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.”
A spokesperson for Mozilla—a nonprofit and creator of the Firefox web browser—also released a statement, saying the company was “deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community. With thousands of people spanning many countries and cultures, diversity is core to who we are. We’re united in our mission to keep the Web open and accessible for everyone.”
In her own personal blog, Christie Koehler, who is Mozilla’s Education Lead—and part of the LGBT community—supported Mozilla’s decision, though she did express disappointment in Eich’s donations to Prop 8.
“Certainly it would be problematic if Brendan’s behavior within Mozilla was explicitly discriminatory … I haven’t personally seen this (although to be clear, I was not part of Brendan’s reporting structure until today),” she wrote. “To the contrary, over the years I have watched Brendan be an ally in many areas and bring clarity and leadership when needed.”
But not all of Mozilla’s employees have been as understanding to Eich. Via a simultaneous tweet, multiple employees sent a united message telling the newly appointed CEO: “Step down.”
Chris McAvoy led the pack, tweeting, “I love @mozilla but I’m disappointed this week. @mozilla stands for openness and empowerment, but is acting in the opposite way.” He then declared: “I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO.”
In an even more drastic move denouncing Eich, three Mozilla board members resigned following the announcement.
Former Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, who runs online security company AVG Technologies; John Lilly, another former Mozilla CEO and current partner at venture-capital firm Greylock Partners; and Ellen Siminoff, CEO of online-education startup Shmoop, all resigned from the board last week.
Three people remain on the Mozilla board: co-founder Mitchell Baker, Katharina Borchert, CEO of German news site Spiegel Online, and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.
“We expect and encourage Mozillians to speak up when they disagree with management decisions, and carefully weigh all input to ensure our actions are advancing the project’s mission,” Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, added in a statement.