Mozilla Promotes Brendan Eich To CEO Position

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The man who co-founded Mozilla Foundation over a decade ago finally gets into the driving seat

Mozilla has chosen Brendan Eich, its co-founder, CTO and the creator of the JavaScript scripting language, as the next chief executive.

Eich replaces Gary Kovacs, who left Mozilla in 2013 for reasons unknown, and has since found employment with Czech security software developer AVG. Jay Sullivan, who managed the company during the transition period, is expected to leave Mozilla in the near future. Firefox’ leadership will be crucial as the organisation is branching out from its well-known browser to offer an open source mobile phone operating system, Firefox OS, aimed at developing markets.

“He [Eich] has deep expertise in both the technical and product sides of the organization, as well as the Web in general. His technology vision and general acumen have quietly shaped not only Mozilla, but large parts of the Web over the past two decades,” says a statement on the company’s blog. “Brendan brings Mozilla’s founding vision and boldness to our current initiatives.”

The developer CEO

In 1998, after spending three years at Netscape, Eich co-founded Mozilla and became its chief architect. When AOL shut down the Netscape browser unit in July 2003, he helped spin out the Mozilla Foundation as an independent entity. A decade later, this non-profit organisation is responsible for the second most popular desktop Web browser in the world.

firefoxicon“Mozilla was a small band of people, mostly volunteers and a few employees, bound together by a shared mission and led by Brendan and me as co-founders of the Mozilla project,” reminisced executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker. “We were an unusual group to have such huge ambitions. Looking at us, most people thought we would never succeed. But we did.”

“I’m honoured and humbled, and I promise to do everything I can to lead Mozilla to new heights in this role,” responded Eich in a blog post.

The company has also appointed Li Gong, the man who was instrumental in setting up Mozilla’s Chinese and Tai offices, as the COO, with a number of functions moving under his management including Cloud Services, Mobile and Research. Mozilla’s ‘chief lizard wrangler’ Baker will retain her post as the executive chairwoman.

But not everyone is happy about Eich’s appointment. Hampton Catlin, the inventor of the Haml markup language, and his husband Michael Catlin, have demanded for the new CEO to be “removed from any day to day activities at Mozilla”. The couple draws attention to the fact that almost six years ago, Eich donated $1,000 to a group campaigning against gay marriage in California. For this reason, they have chosen to boycott all Mozilla projects.

Update:  Mozilla sent the following statement: “Mozilla has always been deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community. With thousands of people spanning many countries and cultures, diversity is core to who we are, and we’re united in our mission to keep the Web open and accessible for everyone.”

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