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Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich steps down over political backlash

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MUMBAI: One of Silicon Valley’s leading firms’ chief executive stepped down just days after his appointment, amid huge uproar on the internet that was sparked by employees who complained about his opposition to gay marriage.

Brendan Eich resigned from Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox web browser, after intense criticism over a six-year-old, $1,000 donation he made in support of a 2008 California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.

Eich, who invented JavaScript and helped start Mozilla in 1998, was appointed as CEO in late March. After he was named, some Mozilla employees took to Twitter to call for his resignation. He then apologised for causing "pain" and made a commitment to promote equality for gay and lesbian individuals at Mozilla.

In a blog post Thursday, Mozilla's executive chairwoman, Mitchell Baker, apologised for Eich's appointment, writing, "We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public… But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community."

In a statement provided by Mozilla, Eich said: "I have decided to resign as CEO effective today, and leave Mozilla. Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next."

In her blog post, Mozilla's chairwoman Baker wrote: "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."

Mozilla grew out of Netscape, the company behind the first popular Web browser Mosaic. Comprised of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation and its taxpaying subsidiary, Mozilla Corp, the organisation develops open-source, free software with its own employees and a global community of third-party developers. It is best known for its Firefox Web browser, but maintains several other products including Bugzilla, which tracks online software bugs, and Firefox OS, a mobile operating system.

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