Mozilla CEO forced to quit after anti-gay marriage controversy protest

After eleven days of bitter protesting against his appointment, Brendan Eich has stepped down from his position as chief executive of Mozilla and departed the company altogether.

Upon his assignation, it emerged Eich controversially backed a ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California. A social media storm soon erupted, with several high-profile Mozilla employees weighing in to criticise the decision. In the weekend following, three board members resigned – although it should be noted Mozilla claimed the events were not linked.

Brendan Eich was one of the original founders of Mozilla and helped grow the software company from an idea in 1998 to one of the world's most popular Internet browsers today. He also invented the JavaScript programming language, and was highly commended by his fellow co-founders.

Announcing the news of his promotion last week Mozilla's first CEO Mitchell Baker was full of praise for Eich. "Brendan has been an absolutely foundational element of Mozilla and our success for the past 15 years," she gushed in a blog post. "The parallels between Mozilla's history and our future are very strong, and I am very happy with this combination of continuity and change to help us continue to fulfill our mission."

Many, however, did not share her enthusiasm. The most damaging blow came from popular Internet dating website OkCupid, who requested that visitors using Mozilla's Firefox to access the site switched to a different browser. The appointment provoked genuine anger amongst supporters of same sex marriage in the US, with many arguing that Eichs's decision to back the divisive Proposition 8. ballot in 2008 was evidence of a man who did not support basic human rights.

Consequently, Baker has posted a new blog announcing the chief executive's departure and apologising for appointing Eich in the first place.

Interestingly, in our poll on 28 April we asked ITProPortal readers whether they thought Brendan Eich should step down as CEO, with the majority of readers voting "no."

Eich has personally confirmed on his own blog that he has not only stepped down as CEO, but is leaving the company altogether. "I've resigned as CEO and I'm leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family [and] look at problems from other angles," he said.

"I encourage all Mozillians to keep going. Firefox OS is even more daunting, and more important. Thanks indeed to all who have supported me, and to all my colleagues over the years, at Mozilla, in standards bodies, and at conferences around the world. I will be less visible online, but still around."