Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich stepped down today after widespread social media-based reports reminded consumers of the former chief technology officer’s financial support of California Proposition 8, the 2008 anti-gay marriage initiative and state constitutional amendment that was overturned last year in a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
Inc. magazine called it “perhaps the world’s first social media-fueled CEO ouster.”
Eich and Mozilla had earlier attempted to quell the controversy by re-emphasizing the company’s support for same-sex health benefits. In a personal blog post addressing employees on March 26, Eich wrote that he recognized “there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” but he hoped these domestic partner benefits would allay those fears.
Today, Eich resigned almost non-chalantly after the Wall Street Journal said three board members stepped down in the middle of the controversy to protest his appointment to the CEO post.
“I may get to it, but not working at Mozilla,” wrote Eich deep within a post about a Harvard presentation he gave on privacy and user data. “I’ve resigned as CEO and I’m leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at [network] problems from other angles…”
The company acknowledged his resignation in its own blog post authored by Mozilla Chairman Mitchell Baker saying, “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.
“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.
“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.”
Eich reportedly donated $1,000 in 2008 to the campaign for California Proposition 8 with his employer identified as Mozilla Corporation.News of this fact became public in March of 2012, creating a wave of protest that resurged at his appointment to CEO.
A search for a new CEO is under way, although Mitchell said at this point there are no front runners for the position.