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Controversial Mozilla CEO Eich Resigns Over Prop 8 Flap

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Brendan Eich was pressured to resign as CEO of Mozilla on Thursday, after backlash for a contribution he made in 2008 to a California initiative to ban gay marriage began to affect his ability to run the company.

In a blog post confirming Eich's resignation, Mozilla -- which owns the Firefox Web browser -- said it had failed to live up to its high standards. The site also acknowledged that many people were "hurt and angry" that Mozilla's directors hadn't acted sooner to dismiss Eich after reports of his contributions surfaced.

The public outcry for Eich's resignation was led by dating site OkCupid.com, which called for a boycott of Firefox, branding Eich an opponent of gay marriage. On Monday, OkCupid told its visitors that they should use Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer or Google's (GOOG) Chrome. The message from OkCupid said that Mozilla's new CEO was an opponent of equal rights for gay couple.

In 2008, Eich donated $1,000 in support of California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.

During several interviews this week, Eich, who was named CEO last month, maintained that he would not step down over criticism of his political contributions. He told TheGuardian.com that he didn't believe his personal beliefs were relevant to his position at Mozilla and that he had effectively helped run Mozilla for 15 years without politics getting in the way.

Ultimately, however, politics did get in the way of his ability to lead Mozilla.

Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that owns Mozilla Corp., said that Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the scrutiny over the hot-button issue.

The pressure became too much, causing Eich -- who is well known in  Silicon Valley as the creator of the JavaScript programming language -- to step down, giving Mozilla a chance to repair its image without him as its leader.

At the time of publication, the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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