In a statement on the official Mozilla blog, we read that Brendan Eich, one of Mozilla’s co-founders, has left his position as the corporation’s CEO.
Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker said in the post that Eich, whose controversial views on gay marriage created a media firestorm last week, left his position of his own accord.
Eich’s 2008 donation to the gay-marriage-blocking Proposition 8 in California came into full focus when he was named Mozilla’s CEO a couple weeks ago. Mozilla’s huge community, from employees to end users, examined Eich’s motives and morality, and not a few called for exactly this kind of outcome.
From the post:
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. …
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.
To say this news comes as a surprise is a wild understatement. When we spoke with Eich two days ago, he was open about the controversy and very much making plans to continue as the company’s CEO and thought he was absolutely the man for the job.
“It’s important that Mozilla be different,” he said to us on April 1, “to have this inclusiveness that brings people together. And it may not seem like it, but I think I can do that.”
This announcement is also a stunning about-face from Baker, who mere days ago affirmed her support for Eich in a blog post, saying, “My experience is that Brendan is as committed to opportunity and diversity inside Mozilla as anyone, and more so than many. …
“I was surprised in 2012, when his donation in support of Proposition 8 came to light, to learn that Brendan and I aren’t in close alignment here, since I’ve never seen any indication of anything other than inclusiveness in our work together.”
Whatever happened between then and now that changed his mind is something of a mystery that we’re currently working to solve.
Did Baker, previously so supportive, have a change of heart? Did the board, rumored to be in conflict over Eich’s appointment, take him out?
Or is Eich simply tired of the public scrutiny and intense anger and disappointment that many in the LGBT community and supporters are aiming in his direction?
We also are trying to find out whether the three recently departed board members — former CEO Gary Kovacs, Greylock partner and also former Mozilla chief executive John Lilly, and Shmoop chief executive Ellen Siminoff — will be returning and whether interim CEO Jay Sullivan will step back into his former role.
We’ll update this post as we learn more.