Geek Feminism Wiki


In March 2012, J. Paul Reed mentioned in a blog post that Brendan Eich -- at the time, CTO of Mozilla -- had donated to support California Proposition 8 in 2008:

... in 2008, when the California constitutional amendment involving the issue, Proposition 8, was on the ballot, a number of companies, including Apple, Google, and “numerous biotech companies“ all very publicly stated their official position against the proposition.

Mozilla Corporation abdicated taking a position.

It’s an open “secret” that Mozilla Foundation board member and Corporation CTO Brendan Eich donated money to support the proposition.

Eich's use of the tone argument[]

After some discussion online, Eich responded with a blog post in which he focused on criticizing the tone of those who expressed dismay and anger at his support of discrimination:

There is no point in talking with the people who are baiting, ranting, and hurling four-letter abuse. Personal hatred conveyed through curse words is neither rational nor charitable, and strong feelings on any side of an issue do not justify it.

Eich attempted to seize the moral high ground by shifting the focus from his support of discriminatory legislation to his critics' use of "curse words". Ultimately, this attempt at tone policing was unsuccessful.

Appointment as CEO[]

In March 2014, Eich was appointed as CEO of Mozilla. Public outcry was strong and immediate: perhaps most notably, developer Hampton Catlin announced that he and his business partner and husband, Michael Lintorn Catlin, would be removing their apps from the Firefox OS Marketplace. The dating site OkCupid set up an interstitial page that would only display to users with Firefox as their browser, encouraging them to switch browsers. The activist group Credo created a petition demanding that Eich resign, which received over 70,000 signatures.

At the time of Eich's appointment, three of Mozilla's six board members had just resigned. Mozilla officially denied that any of the three resignations (Gary Kovacs, John Lilly, and Ellen Simonoff) had anything to do with the CEO search process.

Resignation from CEO position[]

Recognizing that his presence as CEO was damaging Mozilla, Eich resigned in April 2014, ten days after his appointment. In the New Yorker, James Surowiecki wrote:

The real mystery here, then, is not why Eich stepped down but why he ever got hired in the first place. His unquestioned technical ability notwithstanding, this was a candidate who divided the board, who had already been controversial, and whose promotion was guaranteed to generate reams of bad publicity.

Donations to white supremacist and anti-Semitic candidates[]

In addition, conversations in March 2014 immediately after Eich's appointment of CEO revealed that Eich had a long history of support for right-wing extremists, including white supremacist and anti-Semitic candidates Ron Paul [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] and Pat Buchanan [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] .

Further reading[]