CEO behind Firefox steps down after furor over his political views

Brendan Eich had been criticized for donating money to support Proposition 8, which would have prohibited gay marriage in California. 

Reuters
The Firefox logo is mounted at a Mozilla stand during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year.

Last month, Brendan Eich, the creator of the Javascript language and a longtime Silicon Valley hand, took the reins at open-source software giant Mozilla. The move was supposed to usher in a new era of leadership for Mozilla, which had been without a CEO since Gary Kovacs stepped down last year. Instead, it led only to criticism, backbiting, and barely-concealed turmoil. 

Three board members promptly resigned – according to the Wall Street Journal – because of concerns that Mr. Eich wasn't up to the job. Later, news surfaced of Eich's support of the Proposition 8 campaign, which would have outlawed same-sex marriage in California. (The proposition was originally passed, and then ruled unconstitutional.)

Friday brings news that Eich is resigning as CEO, apparently voluntarily. 

"Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public," executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote in a blog post announcing Eich's departure. "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." 

Among the most outspoken opponents of Eich was the team behind the popular dating site OKCupid. In a message posted last week, OKCupid encouraged users not to access its service with a Mozilla browser. 

"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," the message read. "Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure." 

Some inside Mozilla have also spoken out against Eich on social networking sites such as Twitter. "Like many @Mozilla staff, I'm taking a stand. I do not support the Board's appointment of @BrendanEich as CEO," a Mozilla employee named Kat Braybrooke wrote in a tweet first spotted by MSNBC. 

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