Mozilla’s FAQ on YKW: CEO’s departure and tolerance on gay rights

Brendan Eich (Darcy Padilla/Courtesy of Mozilla)
Brendan Eich (Darcy Padilla/Courtesy of Mozilla)

Last week, Brendan Eich resigned as chief executive of Mozilla after a barrage of public criticism for his support of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage, less than two weeks after he was named top executive of the company that makes the popular web browser, Firefox.

After several days of argument over the decision — with some decrying the ganging up on Eich — Mozilla put out an FAQ Sunday to set the record straight.

It says the news media got it all wrong.

First of all Eich, who co-founded the company and was named top executive on March 24, was not fired or asked to resign, the company said. Mozilla also claims Eich wasn’t forced out by employees who took to Twitter two weeks ago to call for his resignation, igniting a public debate that prompted OkCupid and other internet-based businesses to boycott the company.

“[The tweets] came from only a tiny number of people: less than 10 of Mozilla’s employee pool of 1,000. None of the employees in question were in Brendan’s reporting chain or knew Brendan personally,” Mozilla wrote.

“In contrast, support for Brendan’s leadership was expressed from a much larger group of employees, including those who felt disappointed by Brendan’s support of Proposition 8 but nonetheless felt he would be a good leader for Mozilla.”

The three Mozilla board members who recently resigned didn’t do it because of Eich’s $1,000 donation to California’s 2008 Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage, the FAQ said.

Two of the board members had previously said they would resign, and the third did so for reasons other than Eich’s donation. Citing people familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal reported the three board members resigned because they wanted the new CEO to be an outsider “who could help expand the organization’s Firefox OS mobile-operating system and balance the skills of co-founders Eich and Baker.”

Mozilla also wants to clarify that while Mozillans are “activists for the web,” in that they want to keep it free and open, they are not an activist organization.

As for gay marriage, the company says it does not take a stand on issues outside the Mozilla Manifesto, but notes that it does provide benefits and support same-sex couples. The FAQ links to a previous blog post dated March 28 that says “… BOTH Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation support equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples.”

Here’s the whole thing:

 

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of questions and seen a great number of media stories about the events surrounding Brendan Eich’s resignation from the role of CEO. Many of the media stories have incorrect facts, so we compiled the following FAQ as a resource for everyone to have access to the core facts.

 

Here is the announcement about Brendan Eich stepping down as Mozilla CEO.

Q: Was Brendan Eich fired?

A: No, Brendan Eich resigned. Brendan himself said:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective April 3rd, 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.”

Brendan Eich also posted a blog on this topic.

 Q: Was Brendan asked to resign by the Board?

A: No. In fact, Board members and senior executives tried to get Brendan to stay at Mozilla in another role or to stay actively involved with Mozilla as a volunteer contributor. Brendan decided that it was better for himself and for Mozilla to sever all ties, at least for now.

 Q: Was Brendan Eich forced out by employee pressure?

A: No. While these tweets calling for Brendan’s resignation were widely reported in the media, they came from only a tiny number of people: less than 10 of Mozilla’s employee pool of 1,000. None of the employees in question were in Brendan’s reporting chain or knew Brendan personally.

In contrast, support for Brendan’s leadership was expressed from a much larger group of employees, including those who felt disappointed by Brendan’s support of Proposition 8 but nonetheless felt he would be a good leader for Mozilla. Communication from these employees has not been covered in the media.

Q: Did Board members resign over Brendan’s Prop 8 donation?

A: No. Gary Kovacs and Ellen Siminoff had previously stated they had plans to leave as soon as Mozilla chose the next CEO. John Lilly did not resign over Proposition 8 or any concerns about Brendan’s personal beliefs.

 Q: Is Mozilla becoming a social activist organization?

A. No. Mozilla is committed to a single cause: keeping the Web free and open. Our specific goals as an organization are outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto. We are activists for the open Web. Mozilla has a long history of gathering people with a wide diversity of political and religious beliefs to work on the project.

Q: Is Mozilla pro-gay-marriage?

A. Like most of their peers in the US tech industry, Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation a) have provided benefits and support to same-sex couples for a number of years and b) recently issued the following statement about marriage equality. The Mozilla Project — which is the overall umbrella for Mozilla’s global community — does not take stands on issues outside the scope of the Mozilla Manifesto.

 

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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