Updated Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Firefox-maker Mozilla Corporation – after it emerged he controversially backed a ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
In a blog post on Thursday, Mozilla cofounder and executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote that Eich's decision was voluntary and that he made it "for Mozilla and our community."
"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it," Baker wrote. "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."
Eich's appointment as Mozilla's chief exec spurred outrage among gay rights supporters after public records revealed that he contributed $1,000 to the campaign in support of Proposition 8, a divisive 2008 California ballot initiative that enshrined "one man, one woman" as the standard for marriage in the state's constitution.
Although the bill was eventually struck down as unconstitutional under federal law, Eich's support for it was seen as antithetical to Mozilla's progressive public ethos, leading to calls for a boycott of the group's Firefox web browser.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, Eich, a Mozilla cofounder, said his political beliefs were "personal" and that he had "kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we've been going."
"There's a difference here between the company, the foundation, as an employer and an entity, versus the project and community at large, which is not under any constraints to agree on LGBT equality or any other thing that is not central to the mission or the Mozilla manifesto," Eich said.
But Eich's comments appeared to clash with the views of Baker, who blogged on March 29 that "Mozilla supports equality for all, explicitly including LGBT equality and marriage equality."
In her Thursday blog post, Baker wrote, "We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community."
"What's next for Mozilla's leadership is still being discussed," Baker wrote. "We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week." ®
Updated to add at 1814 PDT, 0214 BST
Eich has personally confirmed he has not only stepped down as CEO, he has quit Mozilla outright.
"I’m leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at problems from other angles," he said. "I encourage all Mozillians to keep going."