Brendan Eich Resigns as Mozilla CEO

by Matt Klassen on April 4, 2014

A short two weeks after his controversial hiring and Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has stepped down from the position amidst protests over his stance opposing gay marriage.

Mozilla’s mission is, “bigger than any one of us,” Eich said in a statement Thursday, concluding that, “under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader.” His resignation represents a complete about-face from his comments earlier in the week, when he spoke confidently (and correctly) about the true meaning of inclusivism in a corporate environment. In fact, in his interview with CNET Eich noted that it would send the wrong message if he were to resign, rescind his support for Prop 8, or apologize for his stance.

Message received.

But the message that I’ve received from this is not that Eich is a bigoted, hateful person or that his departure was the right decision, but that Mozilla as a company lacks the will to stick with its decisions, controversial or not. In fact, I would guess that Mozilla will reap an entirely different sort of whirlwind now, as companies distance themselves from the non-profit tech firm because its clear Mozilla’s board lacks both foresight and fortitude…not the best attributes for a future mobile player.

What’s strange is I think the negative impact on Mozilla will be far greater now then it ever was these last few weeks, not because the moral majority will suddenly swoop in to defend Eich (which it will), but because this decision speaks volumes to the decision-making process at the company, both that the board failed to recognize that this issue (which the company knew about for some time) would be a hot button topic, and that they were so quick to flip-flop in their support for Eich.

“I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position,” Eich said in his earlier interview. “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.” While I made it clear earlier in the week that I didn’t agree with Eich’s stance on Prop 8, I’ll admit I couldn’t agree more with him on this assessment.

As CBC news reports, Eich even went as far as to suggest that an attack on his beliefs represented a threat to Mozilla’s overall 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.

So where does this leave Mozilla? Saying nothing about the company’s prospects for invading the mobile market with its Firefox OS, Eich’s resignation leaves the company with a significant PR mess to clean up, now labelled (incorrectly I might add) as close-minded and bigoted. It’ll be interesting to see how the firm tackles the mess that Eich has left behind.

But beyond Mozilla this situation has left us with a much larger question? To what extent are executives allowed to hold particular views on things, and how much are they allowed to have those views impact their decision? While I noted Eich’s view of inclusivism was spot on, it does strike me as a pipedream to assume that we can all check our beliefs at the door.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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Mozilla Attempts to Pick up the Pieces, Appoints Interim CEO —
April 16, 2014 at 5:45 am
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July 22, 2014 at 5:53 am

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