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Mozilla Denies Board Member Mutiny Over Its CEO Choice

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The organisation says departure of three board members is a coincidence not related to the appointment of Brendan Eich

Mozilla has denied claims that half of its board of directors left because of the decision to install co-founder Brendan Eich as the next CEO.

Late last week, unnamed sources told the Wall Street Journal that Gary Kovacs, John Lilly and Ellen Siminoff all resigned because they sought an outsider to lead the company, and weren’t confident in Eich’s abilities.

Mozilla later issued a statement in which it clarified that the board member exodus was not related to the CEO search in any way. For example, Kovacs started working for the Czech security software developer AVG as far back as July 2013, long before Eich was considered as a candidate for the top job. Meanwhile Jay Sullivan, the interim CEO, was planning to leave as soon a s a replacement had been found.

This latest episode is not related to the accusations that Eich contributed $1,000 to a campaign against gay marriage in California in 2008.

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The recent departures leave just three members on the board of the non-profit organisation: co-founder and ‘chief lizard wrangler’ Mitchell Baker, co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman, and chief executive of Spiegel Online Katharina Borchert.

Eich co-founded Mozilla in 1998, after spending three years at Netscape. When AOL shut down the Netscape browser unit in July 2003, he helped spin out the Mozilla Foundation as an independent entity.

Eich then helped grow Firefox into the second most popular browser on the planet, trailing Internet Explorer but ahead of Google’s Chrome. However, according to Wall Street Journal the board was looking for a CEO with experience in the mobile industry who could successfully lead the Firefox OS project.

Mozilla has denied this caused an internal conflict. “The three board members ended their terms last week for a variety of reasons,” explained a statement from the organisation. “Two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected.”

Last week several developers, including Mozilla employees, demanded for Eich to stand down over his 2008 donation to the campaign supporting ‘Proposition 8’ – an attempt to end gay marriage in California.

In response, the newly-appointed CEO promised “to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult.”

“I want to be held accountable for what I do as CEO. I fully expect you all to do so,” he added.

Whatever the reason, Eich gave just $1,000 to support Proposition 8, in a personal capacity. According to Los Angeles Times, overall the campaign to ban gay marriage attracted $39,046,062 in donations – and this being California, there will be plenty of people from technology and Internet companies on the list of its supporters.

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