I, along with a number of other Mozilla employees, have just tweeted that the decision to appoint Brendan Eich to CEO has caused us concern. Why?
I think this deserves a longer form to explain my personal thoughts on the subject.
Mozilla’s culture is one of openness, which is why I am not in fear for my job by expressing my concerns and opinion here or on Twitter. Being incredibly international, Mozilla culture is also exemplified by unconditional tolerance for other views, opinions, religions, and cultures.
I used to work for the Obama campaign, and I work happily alongside Republicans and many libertarians alike. I’m agnostic, but I work perfectly alongside very religious people.
You may be asking yourself right now “But wait…I thought you said that Mozilla was so open to other views, yet you have concerns with the appointment of Brendan Eich as CEO…where is the disconnect?”
Let me explain.
So why wouldn’t I have a problem with Brendan as CTO, while I do have concerns about his role as CEO?
From Wikipedia’s definition of CEO:
(Note: this is not necessarily Mozilla’s definition of CEO. Not much of the outside-of-Mozilla world knows that, however)
“The communicator role can involve the press and the rest of the outside world, as well as the organization’s management and employees; the decision-making role involves high-level decisions about policy and strategy. As a leader of the company, the CEO/MD advises the board of directors, motivates employees, and drives change within the organization.”
That is a very different role than that of a CTO:
” As a corporate officer position, the CTO typically reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) and is primarily concerned with long-term and “big picture” issues (while still having deep technical knowledge of the relevant field).”
A CEO is publicly seen as one of the most visible faces of an organization, and is quite a bit about image, partnerships, and culture, rather than the largely technical role of a CTO.
Unfortunately, right now Brendan’s public image (which is also now in part Mozilla’s public image in his new role) is one showing that he donated money to deny equal rights to the LGBT community during Prop 8 in California. Note: I fully support Brendan’s right to hold these views and support them financially as he sees fit, even while I vigorously disagree with his views on this issue.
In California, donations to these political groups and causes are public record. Thus, this is no longer just a personally held view, it is now a publicly held view.
As it is a publicly held view it has the potential to reflect on Mozilla. My concern is that it could come across to potential funders, contributors, volunteers, and users of our products that maybe Mozilla *doesn’t* really believe in all the inclusiveness we have prided ourselves in, even if we know we still do.
I am concerned that having Brendan in the role of CEO could send the wrong message to some of the people we want to build the open web with. Personally, I have had at least 15 former colleagues and friends engage me about how Mozilla could make this move, many of whom have volunteered for Mozilla in the past.
In the opinion of many(myself included), things like equal access to vote, to marry, to have opportunity, or the ability to visit a spouse in the hospital are not matters of politics, but rather human liberty and freedom, things which Mozilla stands for.
Had there been no public donations record indicating he supported Prop8, neither you nor I would have known, and his image as CEO and the image of Mozilla could not suffer. After all, as many articles on the subject have pointed out, Mozilla has an internal culture and benefits package that couldn’t be friendlier to LGBT individuals.
I am very trusting and respectful of Mitchell Baker and the rest of Mozilla management. Mitchell has worked alongside Brendan for a decade and never knew about their differing opinions on the issue of LGBT rights. I am proud that today, we had a large town hall call to voice our concerns…this is what Mozilla is about. I don’t personally believe for a second that any management would stand by and allow any policy in our Community Participation Guidelines to regress.
I’m grateful that I have the right to express my concerns on who represents Mozilla both to management and to you. In the words of Mark Surman, Exec Director of Mozilla Foundation:
““Our culture of openness extends to letting our staff and community be candid about their views on Mozilla’s direction. We’re proud of that inclusiveness and how it distinguishes Mozilla from most organizations. We expect and encourage Mozillians to speak up when they disagree with management decisions, and carefully weigh all input to ensure our actions are advancing the project’s mission.”
This affirms to me why Mozilla is the organization to which I have pledged my heart.
This all warrants discussion, so let us keep this conversation going. Blog, tweet, and post about what you think.
Other posts worth noting on the subject: