Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Steps Down Following Prop 8 Contribution Fallout

Firefox
Mozilla headquarters Reuters

Brendan Eich, the embattled chief executive of Mozilla Corporation, announced his resignation Thursday amid fallout over a $1,000 contribution he made six years ago in support of California’s Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban.

The company, best known for its popular Firefox browser, released a statement on Thursday detailing the decision.

“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.”

The decision comes just one day after the Guardian, in an interview with Eich, reported that he had vowed not to resign over his “personal beliefs.” Although the donation to Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California until it was ruled unconstitutional last year, is six years in the past, many of Eich’s critics said his statements on the matter since then have not indicated that he has changed his position.

On Monday, the dating website OkCupid took Firefox users by surprise with an impassioned message asking visitors to switch browsers. "We’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people -- all people -- together,” the website wrote. “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 was removed from the OkCupid website following news of Eich’s resignation.

In addition to OkCupid, numerous Mozilla employees had taken to Twitter calling on Eich to step down. Eich, a co-founder of Mozilla, was promoted from CTO to CEO earlier in March. News of his six-year-old contribution to Prop 8 spread throughout social media circles shortly after his promotion was announced. As a backlash grew, Eich attempted to defuse the situation on his personal blog, where he affirmed his “commitment to equality.” However, he fell short of expressly repudiating Prop 8.

In its statement Thursday, Mozilla said options for Eich’s replacement are “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,” the company wrote. Read the entire statement here.

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