Brendan Eich, the newly appointed CEO of Mozilla, has resigned from his position after being roundly criticized for a political donation he made six years ago to an organization supporting a California referendum to ban gay marriage.
Eich donated $1,000 to a group campaigning for Proposition 8, which prohibited gay marriage in California, in 2008. This fact became public two years later but Eich, who at the time was the CTO of Mozilla, weathered the storm.
But after he was named the Internet company's chief executive on March 24, Eich faced even more backlash. Mozilla did too, with one website even refusing to work
in the popular Internet browser.
During an interview with the New York Times
this week, Eich said he had no problems separating his personal and professional lives.
"I do separate our beliefs from our mission," Eich said. "I have always lived by the principle of inclusiveness; if you can’t leave your other stuff at the door you’re going to break into other groups. We have to be one group.
"In some places people see a unity of the personal and political. Mozilla can't do that or we'll fail."
Despite Eich's claim, several employees posted messages to Twitter and called for his resignation.
In a company blog post Thursday, Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced Eich's departure
from the company he helped form in 1998.
"Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community," Baker wrote. "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."
Executives from Apple, Google, and other tech companies, along with the companies themselves, donated money that opposed Proposition 8. The law passed but was later overturned
by a federal judge, making gay marriage legal in the state of California.
Baker said Mozilla believes in equality for everyone, and noted the company did not respond fast enough to the controversy surrounding Eich's personal beliefs.
"Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness," Baker wrote. "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."
The Times asked Eich this week whether or not he would resign from his post, to which he replied, "I serve at the pleasure of the board. I would have them ask me to step down. Until then I have to be CEO 100 percent."
Eich included his resignation news at the end of the short blog post on his website
"I’ve resigned as CEO and I'm leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at problems from other angles, and see if the 'network problem' has a solution that doesn’t require scaling up to hundreds of millions of users and winning their trust while somehow covering costs," he wrote. "That's a rare, hard thing, which I'm proud to have done with Firefox at Mozilla."
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