Mozilla CEO breaks silence to talk about Mozilla under threat

Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s new chief executive, told CNET that Mozilla itself is under threat by the firestorm surrounding his donation to Prop. 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative.

Since the controversy erupted, as I wrote about in a column, Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, has been torn between two values the Internet community holds dear: Free speech and the battle for equality.

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for his resignation. This week, as we reported, OKCupid, the dating site, recommended that its visitors using Mozilla’s Firefox find another browser.

Employees and board members have blogged and tweeted their concerns about the donation. Some have called for Eich’s resignation; others have given him their support.

In the lengthy CNET interview, Eich declined to discuss his personal beliefs and whether he has changed his position.

But he was adamant that people especially the Mozilla community should be able to work together despite differing beliefs.

Eich argued that people’s beliefs, even CEO’s, are protected:

Beliefs that are protected, that include political and religious speech, are generally not something that can be held against even a CEO. I understand there are people who disagree with me on this one.

But it’s not his job that he’s worried about, he said, but Mozilla’s future:

The other thing is imagine a world without Firefox. Mozilla is under a threat here. We don’t know how big. If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail.

Above: Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. (Photo by Darcy Padilla/Mozilla)

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (213 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.