I was in the middle of writing a blog post about the controversy surrounding Mozilla when my Twitter feed exploded with the news that Brendan Eich stepped down from his new appointment as Mozilla CEO. So this is a different post. Also, this is not a post about Prop8 (which I abhored) or gay marriage (which I consider a basic civil right.)
There is little love lost between me and Brendan. We have different styles, and I butted heads with him in tech discussions on a regular basis while I was at Mozilla. He was, at times, infuriating. To be honest, he drove me up the wall.
Yet through all of these disagreements and conflicts, one thing was never in doubt: Brendan has the Mozilla mission of inclusiveness, openness, and freedom engrained in his heart. This is a man who has tirelessly worked in the open for close to 20 years, giving up riches at other companies so he could create an open playground for the world to use, a counter-balance to corporate interests on the Web, and opportunity for billions, even if they never know his name.
So Brendan, thank you, for everything you’ve done for the Open Web and for Humanity. The world is in your debt. You can take the man out of Mozilla, but you can never take the Mozilla mission out of the man.
to my friends at Mozilla
Some people love Mozilla for its mission, but much of the world doesn’t get it. People use Firefox because they like it; others use a different browser because they like that one better. I don’t think that will ever really change. It’s easy to become very depressed about this, to think “how can people be so harsh on Mozilla when we’ve been such good citizens?” or “can’t people see that Firefox is the only browser built by a non-profit?” People don’t care as much as they should. One bad PR cycle might be enough for them to switch browsers.
I want to suggest that this apathy can be empowering: don’t count on others groking the mission. Follow the Mozilla mission on your own terms, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing because it is the right thing.
Keep doing the right thing, friends, and be excellent to each other.
2 responses to “to Brendan and Mozilla”
[…] “Follow the Mozilla mission on your own terms, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing because it is the right thing.” – Ben Adida […]
I was a bit torn by this since all kinds of people probably have worse personal viewpoints than he did, but they just aren’t as obvious. I also think he could’ve headed this off much better by giving some kind of explanation or rationale narrative rather than refusing to discuss directly and avoiding the issue, which just doesn’t help. People want a narrative that shows what he was thinking and that they can connect with and trust him, not some sterile “look at my record” statement with no sense of how to connect to him.
I’m not sure the outcome was anything proportional to what he actually deserved or what he would do as head of Mozilla, so in that respect it’s a shame and a personal setback for him.
On the other hand, my response is f*ck yeah, it’s about time that it became socially unacceptable to choose someone who looks bigoted as a leader of a company, especially when a big part of that company’s mission is idealistic.
I mean would a company choose a leader for their public face with documented contributions to white supremacist groups? Or who was contributing money for advertising for “separate but equal” race segregated schools? The “separate but equal” thing for gay people getting married isn’t better and is not far from reaching that kind of completely unacceptable status. I’m thinking 5 or 10 years at most.
Sure, everyone is allowed their own nutty ideas, but when a large percentage of the population disagrees (and especially many core users of the product) and actually thinks a nutty idea belongs in the dustbin of history and the idea has become obsolete and abhorrent, then you need to give a better explanation. You can’t just refuse to talk about the issue and say “my record is good and I won’t talk.”
Whether his ideas are deeply objectionable is an open question, but at least the botched handling of the situation shows that he wasn’t doing himself or Mozilla any favors, so perhaps it turned out to be best he isn’t doing that particular job anymore. I hope he’s more successful in other areas, since I suspect he’s not the kind of villian that some people are thinking.