Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla, after a debate over the executive's donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative threatened to overtake the company's inclusive reputation. In a blog post, Mozilla confirmed the resignation, adding that the company "prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it," adding, "we know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves." His resignation is a reversal from Eich's tone in interviews all week, which seemed to suggest that the CEO wasn't going anywhere over the issue. As Re/Code notes, Eich will also leave his post as the head of Mozilla's related nonprofit foundation. Mozilla characterized Eich's departure as voluntary.
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. Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.
We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. 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.
Eich became the CEO of Mozilla towards the end of March. Soon after that, some of Mozilla's employees called for his resignation because of a 2008 donation to California's Proposition 8 campaign against gay marriage. The campaign against Eich blew up into a more national story when the dating site OK Cupid started urging Mozilla's Firefox users to use a different browser on their site, due to Eich's anti-marriage equality stance. Eich responded to the backlash with a personal blog post, in which he said that Mozilla was "a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion." He did not, however, indicate that he has changed his stance on the issue of marriage. Mozilla released a separate statement clarifying that the company itself supports LGBT equality.
Eich denied that he would resign over the issue as recently as Tuesday. At the time, he told the Guardian that he didn't believe his views on gay marriage were "relevant" to his capacity for leading the company. In the end, it looks like Mozilla may have disagreed.