Don’t hurt Mozilla

Thanks to Sean Martell for the image

Thanks to Sean Martell for the image

The storm that hit Mozilla since a couple of days makes me sad…

I’m in favor of gay marriage. I also have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender friends. I would have the same opinion without them in my life. I firmly believe in freedom, and I respect people who don’t have the same opinion or vision as me. I did not know Brendan Eich enough as I only meet him once. I did not have strong opinions about his nomination as the CEO of Mozilla. I trusted the people who made the decision, and I thought that it could not hurt to have one of the founders as the new leader. CEO question apart, I’m grateful to Brendan for his contribution to the Open Web, and the creation of Mozilla. Let’s not forget the invention of JavaScript.

Why I’m sad

I’m sad because I had to start this post with justification about my personal belief, and social life. I saw so many other posts or thread gone in the wrong direction. I’m sad because the web shown his ugly face: on both sides of the story or beliefs. More important, even if I was disappointed by Brendan donation, I’m sad because he resigned. It’s not exactly about him, but more about the consequences. Last, I’m sad because Mozilla, that was probably one of the most open organization I know, changed during the last days…

Don’t hurt Mozilla

The person who did the donation was Brendan Eich. The people who nominated him were the board members. Even if they are making high level decisions as nominating a CEO, they are not Mozilla. Mozilla is thousands of people, some paid staff, and many volunteers. Mozilla is the people who fight, and work for the web: we want the web to be more open, and we want more people to have access to it. Mozilla is you! The shit storm of the last days did not only hurt Brendan: it hurt Mozilla a lot. It hurt the people who worked for days, months, years to make the web a better place to be!

Please, don’t hurt Mozilla.

P.S.: I’m not sure this post pay honor to my thoughts or if it makes sense to add to the cacophony…

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  1. And I tend to agree. The CEO might have beliefs or attitude that are not reflected by the company has a whole. We must separate the man from the company.

    Mozilla has a company has done some great stuff and should not have to suffer for this.

    04/04/2014 01:18PM
    • The most important point here is that he was able to do it for more than 16 years, so I do not now why it would have changed as a CEO. He is one of the Mozilla’s founders.

      04/04/2014 03:45PM
    • Hi,

      I think the problem many mozillians don’t understand is than the CEO job is an internal an external one, because he become the leader of the organization *and* the public face or the organization.

      I shared the idea than the merits of Eich where enough to be the CEO of Mozilla and the leader of the community. But, people outside organizations really don’t evaluate leaders about their merits but how they act, express and believe. And in this case the problem wasn’t really the donation, was he couldn’t/didn’t explain why did that and if his beliefs changed.

      And because he dodged to explain his beliefs in every single moment he could (his post, the mozilla post about marriage equality, and the interviews) the doubts in public opinion only grow.

      Actions, words and beliefs need to be coherent to be credible. And this wasn’t that case. He only did the internal leadership job and did not care about how people outside Mozilla would see him, the external job. Even if everyone in Mozilla would support him, that was something only him could solve.

      This isn’t about how we saw Eich as CEO. Is about how people who didn’t share our values saw him, in a very different way.

      04/04/2014 11:17PM
    • I agree that the job of a CEO is internal, and even more external one. My concern with this situation is that people mixed the personal life of Brendan with his professional one. Brendan did not have the authority of a CEO for years, but it did not mean he wasn’t helping Mozilla to grow, and go in the right direction.

      04/09/2014 10:55AM
    • I agree with having higher standard because of the nature of Mozilla, but I think we failed at being more open than others on that one.

      04/04/2014 03:48PM
  2. Mozilla is hurt already, the group of people who did this clearly do not understand the mission of Mozilla.

    @PPL: When the standards for Mozilla are indeed higher then Brendan should still be CEO, but he isn’t….

    04/04/2014 02:58PM
    • I know Mozilla is already hurt, but I would like people to stop hurting us.

      04/04/2014 03:49PM
  3. What bothers me most is how this changes Mozilla. It takes a formerly apolitical group and makes Mozilla partisan and exclusive. Eich recently said it best

    “I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position. If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla. … 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.”

    The moment a group goes from being an apolitical open group to a politically exclusive one, I’m out. I don’t care whether a CEO was pressured out for being an atheist, being pro-choice, or supporting Prop 8 several years back. Leave the political litmus tests out of it. But instead of Mozilla being mature and proclaiming “We regret he made the decision to leave, we would have fought for him, even if we disagree with his private views expressed in his private time,” Mitchell Baker instead immediately released her hypocritical blog entry effectively saying “We are tolerant individuals who value diversity and inclusive ideals, so people who supported Prop 8 years back are not welcome here.” That blog made it quite clear how the Mozilla organization viewed Eich’s quiet political action five years back, and the direction Mozilla plans to go in the future. Employees may not share Baker’s view, but she’s the public mouthpiece and policy setter of Mozilla right now.

    I liked Mozilla. I was a primary user of Mozilla based browsers for over 15 years (ever since the M5 build). I was a co-developer for an extension that had over 2 million downloads. I also helped with an installer plugin, and was pleased to see Firefox adopt it and my name subsequently pop up in the Firefox source code.

    But yesterday I quit Firefox. I’m typing this in Chrome. Unless Firefox makes a some kind of public apology, I don’t plan on going back.

    I did it because I’m scared of where this precedent could lead. I don’t want litmus tests applied to me, or to anyone else, or to “open” groups. I don’t want society to be judged in “Which group do you stand for? If you aren’t with us, we’ll fight you and block your work and limit what jobs you can have.”

    I like the idea of joining in with any group not worrying about what members do in their free time. Are you a liberal Democrat or a Tea Party conservative? I don’t care, let’s just work on this project. Do you support elective choice abortions into the third term of pregnancy? Well, this has nothing to do with software, so lets just work together on this project. Does your group’s president fund a SuperPAC in his private time? I don’t care, lets just focus on the tech ideals of the organization.

    Mozilla used to be like that. But it’s changed, and I don’t see it going back. I don’t feel that connection with the community anymore. Too many in the community wrapped up all manner of non-software ideals into their organization to the point of exclusion of others who don’t follow. This isn’t just unhealthy, it’s dangerous. And I just can’t allow myself to morally support such an organization because of it.

    04/04/2014 06:00PM
    • I agree with your post BUT one thing: the usual crap about “apologies”.
      Apologies are the most sad, lame and useless thing ever. Maybe it is a cultural thing since I am italian. But I do believe people must be judged by their actions, not their words. And the problem is Mozilla actions are exactly the opposite of what they said and still say. Eich respected all Mozilla internal guidelines about “diversity”, he created Mozilla with its “diversity”, yet he was left alone by everybody at Mozilla who rushed to take distance from him and to reinstate that Mozilla’s mission is to support “same-sex marriage” (which actually should not be the mission of an organization that develops software). So what apologies do you expect? Mozilla is rotten from inside.

      04/06/2014 02:45PM
    • LorenzoC, if you talked about my post, I did not ask for any apologize. I also agree about judging people on their actions, not on what they are saying. It’s the side of the story that made me sad: Mozilla actions was different from what “we” were saying. Last, but not least, as I said, Mozilla is more than the spokespersons, or the people who wanted Brendan to resign. I can tell you that it’s not everybody who wanted him to resign from his CEO role.

      04/09/2014 01:52PM
    • I should note that Brendan was not “forced” out, not asked to resign. In fact, he declined attempts to continue in other roles, at least for now.

      I should note that the community guidelines we adopted a couple of years ago to mediate this sort of problem (in general) were generally followed, by Brendan and most (though not all) other Mozillians. These ask people to leave any exclusionary beliefs or opinions outside of their work within the Mozilla community. However… this rapidly involved many people who are not “Mozillians”, and who likely had never heard the term. The considerable misinformation promoted in headlines didn’t help.

      Mozilla the organization internally raised the issue following the appointment, and dealt with it, and would have been ok (albeit with some concern from some members). However, the outside pressure and attention was large, and the job of a CEO is to be the public face of the company and to navigate it through those shoals – and *that* Brendan failed at doing, in his first test (albeit somewhat self-inflicted) as CEO.

      Let me re-iterate: he was not forced out by Mozilla. Not by the board, not by the employees, not by the Mozilla community. He resigned because he could not find a way to stop damage being caused to Mozilla’s mission – and that is the first job of the CEO, to support and protect the mission – which he himself created. He resigned to protect the thing he loved – the open web.

      p.s. I will add the standard caveat – I personally disagree strongly with Brendan-the-individual on many things, including the topic of interest here. I hate that I feel the need to say that.

      04/07/2014 12:53AM
    • Randell, I know Brendan was not forced by Mozilla to resign. I also agree that Brendan failed as a CEO as it was his role to navigate in this storm, and get out of it stronger for both him as Mozilla. On the other side, as you said, all this story hurt Mozilla a lot, and maybe it was one of the solutions to stop the damage caused to our organization so we can continue our mission.

      04/10/2014 11:39AM
    • Helix400, I understand your point. I think by being open, Mozilla lost part of his inclusiveness. As far as we have many activist in the community, Mozilla mission is about the web, nothing more.

      04/09/2014 01:20PM
  4. I’ve been following this whole ordeal since it started, and I just wanted to say that your post resonated with me.

    If push came to shove, I would side with Brendan Eich on this particular issue. But in general I don’t feel a need to voice that opinion. As far as I can tell, neither did he. He held a belief, which he made a point not to let affect his professional life. When pressured to recant, he didn’t. I think that is admirable.

    Because of all this, I want to be angry at Mozilla. I want to be upset with the community for its actions. But as they say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s a shame that this all happened, but you are right that we shouldn’t hurt Mozilla. It has already taken a beating, and it could use some love right now.

    (I also take issue with the fact that people have latched onto $1,000 as if it were a significant amount of money. It’s chump change in the grand scheme of things. For a CTO, what is that? maybe a couple days pay. I want to scream every time I see someone post “He supported this hateful cause to the tune of $1,000″, because to me it is equivalent to “He supported this hateful cause to the tune of a cup of coffee.” Yes, there is a difference, but I’d wager that many of the people who said these things have also blown thousands upon thousands of dollars buying products from companies with far worse track records as far as human rights go.)

    04/04/2014 09:54PM
    • Wayne, this is “an issue” of being this unique organization, and transparent company that is Mozilla. Thanks for understanding that Mozilla not equal only a couple of people, but a large group of people who weren’t all in the same position with this controversy.

      04/09/2014 01:55PM
  5. Absolutely reprehensible to force him out for this. I’ve been a Firefox fan for over a decade but have uninstalled and will never again use any services of Mozilla. If we’re forcing out leaders that were against same-sex marriage in 2008 this disqualifies Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama from leading anything. I’m absolutely sick as Mozilla should know better than this.

    04/05/2014 03:33PM
    • Joe, this comment makes me sad as you miss the point of my post: Mozilla is not just the board of directors. Also, as far as we know, if somebody forced Brendan to resign, it’s not Mozilla, but the pressure from the medias. You would need to stop reading newspaper, blogs, and news websites if you act on what you said.

      I think the situation comes from the uniqueness of Mozilla because it’s open, and people associate Mozilla to a bigger mission that “just” opening the web. It would probably not happen like this, as you said with your example, in another company.

      04/09/2014 01:59PM


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