Brendan EichMonday, Mar 24, 2014 · 500 words · approx 3 mins to read
Brendan Eich was appointed CEO of Mozilla today, a promotion from CTO, and he now heads up the company he’s been involved in ever since Netscape spun the project out. Unremarkable on the face of it, given he’s done a pretty good job developing and shepherding the company’s technology and has been there since the beginning with no time out, so you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more suitable for the CEO role. He knows the technology and the company inside out.
Mozilla’s success is primarily based on the technology they’ve developed since the Netscape source was opened. In many ways they’re a bona fide protector of the Internet as we know it, especially today, where the system finds itself under attack from all sides. Open technology to access the Internet is clearly fundamental to today’s modern, technologically advanced, societies. That’s what they’ve chosen to build, and it keeps everyone else creating Internet access technologies honest.
Eich’s promotion hasn’t been met well, though. In 2008 he personally funded a campaign that supported California’s Proposition 8. “Prop 8”, was a state-level constitutional amendment that passed, banning same-sex couples from marrying in the state. The amendment was revoked in 2013.
Now he’s newly CEO the backlash is there again. Companies are pulling apps from Mozilla platforms and people are withdrawing support for the whole company and the technology it creates.
Why now? What’s fundamentally different about Mozilla now that he’s CEO? It seems reasonably straightforward to separate support for the man from support for Mozilla. I don’t support his position, and that’s nothing to do with my continued support for his company and what it’s doing. I know that his position fundamentally can’t alter his company’s technology in any way. By donating to Mozilla, something I do every other year, I don’t donate to Brendan Eich. I donate to helping keep the Internet open and accessible.
It’s not fair for Mozilla the entity to take on the traits of the CEO in this instance, and for us to treat it that way. Take a stance against the man, but leave Mozilla out of it. Even if your own position on same-sex marriage is completely opposed to his — I believe it’s a mental illness to not be accepting of human beings doing whatever they want, including being with other humans of the same sex in whatever way they choose, marriage or otherwise — it’s OK for him to hold that position if he wants and it has nothing to do with the technology he creates.
The means of countering his position are clear and worked; the amendment was revoked after a series of legal challenges and the popular will was asserted, as it should be.
Update: Looks like my position wasn’t the popular one; Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla.