In a way, Mozilla Firefox Chief Executive Officer Brendan Eich invented his own demise.
The revelation of Eich’s position caused controversy at Mozilla when it was uncovered in 2012. But last week it rose to a fever pitch after Mozilla named its cofounder and former Chief Technology Officer to the position of CEO following the resignation of Gary Kovacs last April.
Eich’s promotion led to a Twitter backlash, prompted three Mozilla board members to quit, and inspired the dating Web site OKCupid to pen a political missive discouraging its members from accessing the site through Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.
“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid,” the message says. Below that are links to other web browsers users can use to access the site.
OkCupid admits the foray into politics may seem unusual for an online dating company and explains it this way:
“We’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company.”
OkCupid President Christian Rudder told the Associated Press that about 12 percent of OkCupid’s 3 billion monthly page views come through Firefox.
OkCupid isn’t the only netizen to break up with Firefox. The app developer Rarebit, which is active in the Firefox marketplace, announced last week it would no longer support the platform.
Mozilla told the AP in an email that the company supports LGBT equality and chided OkCupid for “not reaching out to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts.”
In a recent blog post, Eich reiterated his commitment to making Mozilla an inclusive LGBT friendly workplace but did not say he regretted his 2008 donation or otherwise speak to his personal politics.
Tech Times blogger Vamien McKalin thinks Eich’s personal beliefs are just that, personal.
“As long as Eich is not trying to bring forth his personal feelings on the anti-gay matter to his employees or to refuse to work with LGBT as equals in the work place, then he should be looked down on for his leadership qualities, instead of his personal feelings towards a certain matter. Remember, we all have freedom of speech and expression, and these things should never be the reason person’s lose their jobs.”
Firefox is the world’s second most popular web browser on personal computers with an 18 percent market share, the Wall Street Journal said, citing data from web-analytics firm Net Applications. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is in the lead with a 58 percent share, and Google’s Chrome is neck and neck with a 17 percent share.