Mozilla chief steps down amid controversy
SAN FRANCISCO – The chief of Firefox browser maker Mozilla is stepping down in the face of controversy stirred by his support of a California bill to ban gay marriage.
Brendan Eich voluntarily surrendered his role as chief executive of Mozilla, a corporation owned by a non-profit foundation of the same name, according to a blog post by executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker.
Eich’s appointment had triggered outrage in the typically open-minded community devoted to improving and spreading free Firefox open-source Web browsing software.
The backlash sprung from news of a cash donation he made in 2008 to support passage of a California law banning gay marriage, a move he has never publicly retracted.
“We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” Baker said.
“We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”
Baker, indicating a replacement has not yet been determined, said Mozilla supports equality and freedom of speech.
Eich was appointed chief of Mozilla last month, saying in a blog post that he would do his best to take Mozilla to new heights.
“People around the world are our ultimate cause at Mozilla, as well as source of inspiration and ongoing help doing what we do,” Eich said in the post.
His appointed sparked calls for his removal, and popular dating website OKCupid posted a message asking visitors to use browsers other than Firefox.
Firefox is a communally created browser challenging rivals backed by Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Last year, Firefox released an upstart smartphone operating system aimed at challenging the Apple and Google duopoly in the mobile gadget market.
Firefox OS will power a new category of $25 smartphones for developing countries, the California-based Mozilla Foundation announced in February.
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