Brendan Eich (pictured) has stepped down as Mozilla CEO after his appointment only ten days ago, although the issue that drove his decision was not the same one that led three directors to resign over his appointment earlier this week.
The three Mozilla directors wanted a CEO from outside the company with greater experience of the mobile industry who could push the take-up of Firefox, its mobile OS, according to a media report at the start of the week.
But what forced Eich out was grassroots opposition within Mozilla to his views on gay marriage.
As well as internal employee rifts, other companies were starting to take a view on the controversy, with the potential for commercial backlash. Dating site Ok Cupid asked users to stop using the Firefox browser to access their service.
Eich, who was formerly CTO as well as a co-founder of Mozilla, caused a dilemma, admitted chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a blog on his resignation: “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard”.
But Eich’s views had caused a problem internally for some time. In 2008, he donated $1,000 to Prop 8, a Californian ballot proposition that wanted to ban gay marriage in California. His action became public in 2012. In the listing, Eich had used Mozilla’s name next to his own.
And the controversy hindered Eich from doing his job, a point conceded by Baker in an interview with Re/code. “It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” she said before adding: “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”
No successor has been named, with Baker noting in her blog that Mozilla wants “to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organisation”. She added that the company “will have more information next week.”
No names have been immediately linked to the position. Interim CEO Jay Sullivan decided to move on following Eich’s appointment as CEO.
Eich’s future is also unclear – according to a Wall Street Journal report, he has resigned from Mozilla and will not be returning to his CTO position.