Mozilla CEO Resigns After OKCupid Protest
EDITOR’s NOTE: Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned, according to a blog post by Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman, on Apr. 3. Eich had been facing a criticism and scrutiny following his appointment due to donations he made in 2008 supporting California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Despite assurances from both Eich and Mozilla that his personal views would not impact the company’s commitment to supporting its employees regardless of sexual orientation, the tidal wave of criticism from LGBT advocates, Mozilla employees and social media was evidently too much for the company to ignore. Baker’s full letter is at the end of this article.
The popular OkCupid online dating site has recently launched a protest against the Mozilla Firefox Internet browser and is asking users to join the bandwagon. When users try to access the OkCupid site via Mozilla, they see a letter urging a boycott of the browser. OkCupid is protesting Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, who the dating site describes as an “opponent of equal rights for gay couples.” The accusation stems from a $1,000 donation that Eich gave to support a ban on gay marriage called Proposition 8 in 2008.
As stated in OkCupid’s letter to Mozilla users, “We’ve devoted the last 10 years to bringing people — all people — together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8 percent of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company.”
The site is not the only one falling out of love with Mozilla. Since Eich’s appointment as chief executive, three Mozilla board members have stepped down. Gary Kovacs and John Lilly, both former Mozilla chief executives, and Ellen Siminoff, chief executive of the education start-up Shmoop, left the Mozilla board immediately prior to Eich officially becoming CEO. Current, employees have also publicly denounced the company via Twitter.
Mozilla has not released a formal statement, but Eich has recently published a post on his blog about inclusiveness. “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,” wrote Eich.
According to OkCupid President Christian Rudder, about 12 percent of OkCupid’s 3 billion monthly page views come through Firefox. According to the Wall Street Journal, Firefox is the world’s second most popular web browser on personal computers with an 18 percent market share. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is in the lead with a 58 percent share, and Google’s Chrome is a close runner-up with a 17 percent share.
Here is a letter from Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s executive chairwoman, on the company’s website Apr. 3:
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