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Report: Half of Mozilla’s board resign over new CEO choice

Detailed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, three out of the six Mozilla board members have resigned this week due to the appointment of Brendan Eich as the new CEO of the company. As a co-founder of Mozilla, Eich also invented the Internet programming language called JavaScript and played a key role in getting Firefox out to consumers ten years ago. Before being appointed CEO of the company, Eich was working at the chief technology officer. After the appointment, former Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, former Mozilla CEO John Lily and Shmoop CEO Ellen Siminoff resigned from the board. 

While the board members declined to comment on the reasons for their departure, current employees of Mozilla have been exceedingly vocal about their disapproval of Eich’s appointment to the company. During 2012, it was discovered that Eich, a California resident, donated $1,000 during 2008 for the support of Proposition 8. Helping that measure pass with his monetary donation, same-sex marriage was banned in the state until the Supreme Court ruled that the measure was unconstitutional during 2012. 

Proposition 8 Rally

Another possible reason that half of Mozilla’s board jumped ship was the opinion that Eich doesn’t have the necessary experience to increase Mozilla’s share of the mobile market. As the world transitioned from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones, Mozilla only has 0.1 percent of the mobile market according to Net Applications. Alternatively, Apple dominates that market at a 54 percent share with the Safari browser and Google’s browsers make up another 36 percent. The three board members that left were likely seeking a CEO that could increase Mozilla’s mobile market share while utilizing Eich effectively in the CTO position.

Besides the public backlash within Mozilla employees, some developers are also starting to voice their disapproval of the appointment. As pointed out by the L.A. Times, two gay developers removed their application from the Firefox Marketplace and halted all work on future applications. In a blog post about the removal, the one of the developers wrote “It’s not his belief that hurts us. It’s that he actively donated to a cause that directly negatively affected us, personally. It’s not abstract. It’s not a witch hunt. He’s certainly allowed to have his opinion, of course, but I’m allowed to judge his actions of supporting the cause financially.”

Brenden-Eich

Eich attempted damage control when the story broke during 2012, basically insisting that he should not be classified as a bigot and said that “the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity.” This week, both Mozilla and Eich released official statements about the controversy. In his statement, Eich wrote “I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to “show, not tell”; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

The board members that are remaining with the company include Mozilla co-founder Mitchell Baker, Spiegel Online CEO Katharina Borchert and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Mozilla hasn’t indicated if the three board members that exited the company will be replaced in the future.

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