Mozilla CEO resigns after furore over gay rights

2014-04-04 07:29

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich is stepping down as CEO and leaving the company following protests over his support of a gay marriage ban in California.

The non-profit that makes the Firefox browser infuriated many employees and users last week by naming Eich head of the Mountain View, California-based organisation.

At issue was Eich's $1 000 donation in 2008 to the campaign to pass California's Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that outlawed same-sex marriages. The ban was overturned last year when the US Supreme Court left in place a lower-court ruling striking down the ballot measure.

Eich's contribution had drawn negative attention in the past but took on more weight when he was named CEO. Mozilla employees and users criticised the move on Twitter and elsewhere online.

Earlier this week, dating website OKCupid replaced its usual homepage for users logging in with Firefox with a note suggesting they not use Mozilla's software to access the site.

The departure raises questions about how far corporate leaders are allowed to go in expressing their political views.

Company ethos

"CEOs often use their station to push for certain viewpoints and get some muscle for those viewpoints," said UCLA management professor Samuel Culbert. "But if you are going to play the game you have to think of both sides."

Company leaders have to be conscious of what impact their own views may have on the success of their organisation, Culbert argued.

While some leaders, such as Starbucks head Howard Schultz, have been outspoken in their political positions, it is often in a vein that is line with the ethos of his company. Culbert said that taking a position that is divisive can both drive away customers and hurt employee morale.

The onus is also on the corporation and its board to assess whether anything that a candidate has done or said in the past will adversely affect the company's reputation, said Microsoft chair John Thompson, who led a five-month search that culminated in Microsoft hiring Satya Nadella as its new CEO in February.

"When you run a public company or any visible organisation, what you think and what you say is always going to affect the company," said Thompson. "You have to be mindful of how things you do and say will affect your customers, your employees and your investors."

Eich said in a statement on Thursday that Mozilla's mission is "bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader".

His resignation represents an about-face from his confident and sometimes defiant remarks in an interview published earlier this week by the technology news service Cnet.

Apology

Insisting that he was best choice to be CEO, Eich told Cnet that it would send the wrong message if he were to resign or apologise for his support of Prop 8.

"I don't think it's good for my integrity or Mozilla's integrity to be pressured into changing a position," Eich said. "If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla."

At another point, Eich said that attacks on his beliefs represented a threat to Mozilla's survival.

"If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we'll probably fail," he said.

Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker apologised for the company's actions in an open letter online on Thursday, saying that Eich is stepping down for the company's sake.

"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," Baker wrote.

She said that Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech and that "figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard".

Mozilla is still discussing what is next for its leadership.
- AP
Read more on:    mozilla  |  internet  |  gay and lesbian rights
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
47 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.