Social media backlash from employees, company fans prompts Mozilla CEO to resign his post


You can't say it wasn't totally expected, but the news of Mozilla CEO resigning likely caught at least some off guard and illustrates how powerful a role social media tools are playing when it comes to employee feedback and customer response on corporate issues.

All it took was a Twitter revolt and Brendan Eich, company co-founder, found himself writing a resignation letter that was announced late Thursday afternoon.

Eich made the decision to leave for "Mozilla and our community," states a Mozilla blog post.

The news comes as outrage expressed by Mozilla employees about Eich's support of banning gay marriage in California showed no signs of ebbing. Eich reportedly donated $1,000 to the state's Proposition 8 ballot four years ago.

 "Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO," Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote in the blog post. Baker also apologized for Mozilla not responding fast enough to the ensuing backlash and said Mozilla "must do better" and "supports equality for all."

Upon learning about Eich's political views on gay marriage, Mozilla employees took to Twitter to express disappointment and anger. Some called for his resignation, others called on Eich to change his view.

The incident illustrates the findings of a new study that reveals an increasing number of employees are tapping social media tools to express feedback on company and leadership decisions.

Yet it's still pretty rare when such employee activity propels corporate leaders to take action. Typically it takes prime time media coverage to instigate change. One reason is that using social media to criticize an employer could be a violation of the employer's social media or online use policy which most workers are required to sign upon employment.

On top of that, within the technology industry, there is typically wider range and greater leeway given the creative and open work environments most vendors are constantly promoting. Mozilla, being an open source company, invites employees to be open and honest about their views.

The company's statement on the resignation actually mentions the issue.

"Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community. While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better."

Baker did not indicate who would succeed Eich or an interim leadership plan.

"What's next for Mozilla's leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that's what it means to protect the open Web."

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