FAQ on CEO Resignation

On April 3, 2014 Brendan Eich voluntarily stepped down as CEO of Mozilla. It has been well documented that Brendan’s past political donations led to boycotts, protests, and intense public scrutiny. Upon his resignation, Brendan stated: “Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader.” The intense pressure from the press and social media made it difficult for Brendan to do his job as CEO and effectively run Mozilla.

Since then, there has been a great deal of misinformation. Two facts have been most commonly misreported:

1. Brendan was not fired and was not asked by the Board to resign. Brendan voluntarily submitted his resignation. The Board acted in response by inviting him to remain at Mozilla in another C-level position. Brendan declined that offer. The Board respects his decision.

2. Around the time of Brendan’s appointment as CEO, three members of the Board of Directors resigned from the Mozilla Corporation Board. None of these board members resigned over any concerns about Brendan’s beliefs. Gary Kovacs and Ellen Siminoff had previously stated they had plans to leave, and John Lilly did not resign over any concerns about Brendan’s personal beliefs. Katharina Borchert was appointed to replace one of the empty Board seats after Brendan was appointed CEO.

Currently, Mitchell Baker continues to lead Mozilla as Executive Chairwoman and co-founder. The executive team is reporting directly to Mitchell, and she is also leading the search for a new CEO with support from the Board. The executive team is committed to moving forward with Mozilla’s 2014 goals under guidance from Mitchell and the Board.

Mozilla was built on the mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web. Every day, we bring together over half a billion users and thousands of contributors from more than 80 countries to advance the cause outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto. The Web is a vital public resource and Mozilla exists to protect it. That is what we do at Mozilla, our singular point of focus.

Additional facts have been provided in the FAQ below.


Q: What was the sequence of events around Brendan’s appointment and eventual resignation as CEO?

A:  The events unfolded as follows:

  • 1998: Brendan Eich and Mitchell Baker co-founded the Mozilla Project

  • 2003: Brendan and Mitchell co-founded the non-profit Mozilla Foundation

  • 1998-2014: Brendan served in a variety of technology leadership roles at Mozilla, including CTO and SVP Engineering of the Mozilla Corporation

  • 2012: The Los Angeles Times reported that Brendan made a political contribution in 2008 to California Proposition 8

  • March 24, 2014: Because of his unique and proven ability to build both Mozilla and the Open Web, Brendan was appointed CEO of the Mozilla Corporation

  • March 25: Initial blog posts, social media and media stories appeared citing Brendan’s past political donations and raising concerns about his appointment as CEO

  • March 25: CREDO, a social change organization and mobile phone company that supports activism and funds progressive nonprofits, contacted Mozilla to inform that they planned a petition in response to Brendan’s appointment

  • March 26: Mitchell published a blog post in support of Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness

  • March 26: Brendan published a blog post re-affirming his commitment to inclusiveness at  Mozilla

  • March 27: Media coverage began to focus on fewer than 10 Mozilla employees who used Twitter to ask Brendan to step down from the role of CEO

  • March 29: Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote a blog post about Mozilla’s support for marriage equality

  • March 30: CREDO petition calling for Brendan’s resignation launched

  • March 31: OkCupid launched an action asking its users to boycott Mozilla, impeding access to their site from Mozilla products

  • April 1: Brendan spoke to national media to respond to public concerns

  • April 3: Amid organized boycotts, protests and intense public scrutiny, Brendan resigned and stepped down as CEO

Q: Was Brendan Eich fired?

A: No, Brendan Eich resigned. Brendan himself said:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective April 3rd, and leave Mozilla. Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.”

Brendan Eich also blogged on this topic.

Q: Was Brendan Eich asked to resign by the Board?

A: No. It was Brendan’s idea to resign, and in fact, once he submitted his resignation, Board members tried to get Brendan to stay at Mozilla in another C-level role.

Q: Was Brendan Eich forced out by employee pressure?

A: No. Mozilla employees expressed a wide range of views on Brendan’s appointment as CEO: the majority of them positive and in support of his leadership, or expressing disappointment in Brendan’s support of Proposition 8 but that they nonetheless felt he would be a good leader for Mozilla. A small number (fewer than 10) called for his resignation, none of whom reported to Brendan directly. However media coverage focused disproportionately on the small number of negative comments — largely ignoring the wide range of reactions across the Mozilla community.

Mozilla’s culture of openness extends to encouraging our staff and community to be candid about their views on Mozilla’s direction, including during and after Brendan’s appointment as CEO. We’re proud of that openness and how it distinguishes Mozilla from most organizations.

Q: Did Board members resign over Brendan’s Prop 8 donation?

A: No. Gary Kovacs and Ellen Siminoff had previously stated they had plans to leave. John Lilly did not resign over Proposition 8 or any concerns about Brendan’s personal beliefs. Katharina Borchert was appointed to replace one of the empty Board seats after Brendan was appointed CEO.

Q: Do I need to support Mozilla’s marriage equality statement to be a Mozillian?

A: No. The Mozilla Project is the overall umbrella for Mozilla’s global community, and as a community organization does not take stands on issues outside the scope of the Mozilla Manifesto. Every Mozillian is free to have his or her view, and we welcome all. The Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation, like many of their peers in the US tech industry a) have provided benefits and support to same-sex couples and b) recently issued the following statement about marriage equality. You do not need to agree with these actions or statements to be a Mozillian.

Q: Is Mozilla becoming a social activist organization?

A: No. Mozilla is committed to a single cause: keeping the Web free and open. Our specific goals as an organization are outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto. We are activists for the open Web. Mozilla has a long history of gathering people with a wide diversity of political, social, and religious beliefs to work with Mozilla.

Q. Do you need to support marriage equality to contribute to Mozilla as an employee, volunteer, or in a leadership role?

A: No. There is no litmus test to work at Mozilla.

Everything from Mozilla’s own Community Participation Guidelines, to employment law, to the Mozilla Mission mandates that employees and community members can and should hold whatever beliefs they want. We are an organization made up of a global community of people with widely diverse views coming together for a common shared goal: protecting and building an open Web.

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