Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich Comes Under Attack from Mozilla Employees
On March 24th,2014, Brandon Eich was appointed Mozilla CEO and rightfully so as he had previously held the position of CTO from the 90s when Mozilla was formed out of Netscape.He was also one of the founders alongside Mitchell Baker. However, his period in office was short-lived serving as CEO for only 11 days, as he was forced to step down after facing massive opposition from the Mozilla and the LGBT tech communities.
In 2012 it was uncovered that the then Mozilla CTO had made a $1000 donation to support prop 8 which was a California ballot proposition aimed at banning gay marriage. This did not affect his position with the company then and the scandal was brief.
However, the issue came to the fore again when he was appointed the executive officer of the company. As soon as the appointment was made, three of Mozilla board members, Gary Kovacs, John Lilly, and Ellen Siminoff, resigned. The Mozilla community too took to social media to express their disappointment with the appointment with some threatening to resign if the new Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich did not step down.
So, what was it about this Prop 8 that made Brandon Eich fall on such hard times during his brief tenure as the company’s CEO?
Back in early 2008, the Californias Supreme Court overturned the Proposition 22 that banned same sex marriage as it was considered unconstitutional. Subsequently, a campaign (which the Mozilla CEO backed) was launched to amend the constitution and prop 8 was put on the ballot. The amendment passed and for another 6 years, same-sex marriage was considered unlawful in California as it was not until June 2013 that the Supreme Court ruled against it.
Impact on Smart Tech
With the Prop 8 in place, gay couples could not secure legal recognition and the benefits that go with it. Debatably, the donation the Mozilla CEO made towards the campaign cost thousands of Californias gay couples 6 years, and this did not augur well with the Mozilla community and the LGBT community.
What did this entail for Mozilla?
Other than employees threatening to leave and some of the company’s CEO resigning, Mozilla was facing other difficulties by having Eich as the CEO. As word of the Mozilla CEOs supports towards prop 8 became widely circulated, users started using other browsers which meant the loss of revenue from Google and other downloads. Some donors announced that they would no longer donate towards the foundation and volunteers stated they would no longer contribute towards Mozilla projects. Some companies went ahead and stopped supporting the platform with Rarebit being a notable example Check out our best cheap smartwatch review.
As both founders of Rarebit are in a same-sex marriage, they considered the Mozilla CEOs actions retrogressive and one of the issues that hindered their marriage and consequently the launch of their company.
After an impasse whereby the CEO could not recant his statement (exercising his right to free speech), and employees not willing to work under him, the CEO was forced to step down.
This was a classic case between the right of free speech against free choice.