Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns After Marriage-Equality Furor; Mozilla Apologizes

Newly appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned his post today following an outburst of public criticism—some from Mozilla employees—over his opposition to marriage equality, his financial support for California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 and questions about his ability to lead a diverse organization of both employees and volunteer contributors given the controversy.

See also: Brendan Eich: Just Apologize For Supporting Proposition 8

There was little question that Eich, a Mozilla co-founder who created Javascript and served as the organization’s CTO for almost a decade, had the technical chops to lead the company. But some employees objected to Eich as CEO because of his never-recanted support for the ballot initiative that rolled back same-sex marriages in California until a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional in 2010, a finding later upheld by the Supreme Court.

See also: With Brendan Eich As CEO, Mozilla Keeps Its Focus On The Open Web

In a blog post, Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker said it was Eich’s choice to resign, a decision he made “for Mozilla and our community.” Baker apologized and reiterated Mozilla’s culture of equality and its support of freedom of speech:

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.

Eich’s resignation throws Mozilla’s leadership into turmoil. Baker wrote only that “[w]hat’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed,” added that the organization wants to be “open” about how it decides its future and said more information should be available next week. 

It’s also not clear whether Eich will remain as CTO of Mozilla, or even if he’ll stay with the organization in any capacity. Recode reported that Eich has left the board of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which owns the for-profit company Mozilla. A Mozilla spokeswoman did not respond to queries by press time.

Update, 3:50pm PT: Brendan Eich confirmed his departure from Mozilla in a statement distributed by Mozilla PR:

I have decided to resign as CEO effective today, and leave Mozilla. Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.

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