Mozilla has been going through some tough times recently. The company lost its CEO Brendan Eich to outrage over his position on gay marriage, and its Firefox browser has lost market share to Google's Chrome browser. ZDNet takes a look at some of Mozilla's problems, including its inability to find a new CEO.
According to ZDNet:
The clock is ticking. Mozilla is making progress with Firefox OS's technology and it's finding more hardware partners for its low-end smartphones. But with its over $300-million yearly Google contract expiring in December 2014, Mozilla can't possibly keep up its annual expenditures of over $200-million (PDF).
Mozilla needs to find strong leadership and it needs to do it now. With its cash reserves, Mozilla can make it through 2015, but it must, must, find its way soon or it will follow Netscape into becoming part of the Internet's past instead of its present and future.More at ZDNet
It's very sad to see Mozilla struggling like this. While I'm certainly not privy to its internal goings-on, I do wonder if maybe the company's reputation has been tainted by all of its recent problems to the point where there's a lack of good candidates for the CEO position.
The Brendan Eich controversy gave Mozilla a huge black eye since it involved the issue of gay marriage, which has been a big deal in the culture wars inside the United States. I shared my own thoughts about it in a column a while back. I got more than 150 comments on that article from people on both sides of the issue, so it clearly struck a nerve with many Firefox users.
This makes me wonder if the damage done to Mozilla's reputation by the whole affair is still festering. Are top-notch CEO candidates afraid at this point to step into the job at Mozilla? No doubt whoever does take the job is probably going to have their background looked at with a fine tooth comb by the media, and that may be spooking viable candidates away from taking the job.
CNet examines the effect of political correctness on CEOs and companies in Silicon Valley in a long article that looks at what happened inside of Mozilla:
According to CNet:
Still, it may be some time before the Mozilla community recovers. The episode has become a touchstone around whether political correctness now means CEOs of Silicon Valley companies are less free than other Americans to assert their First Amendment right to free speech. "In the old days it was, 'Can you generate a return for shareholders?'" said Scott McNealy, who during more than two decades as CEO of Sun Microsystems espoused fiscally conservative politics and sharply libertarian views. "Now we have, 'How do you feel about gun control, immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and big government?'"
Illustrating just how toxic Mozilla's controversy has become, few high-ranking figures in the Bay Area's tech scene were willing to go on the record to comment on Mozilla's plight. Taking a public stand on Eich means painting a target on yourself, said one tech company executive. "Intolerance tends to beget intolerance. There are no winners here."More at CNet
So it seems clear that the fall of Brendan Eich has probably had a real chilling effect on many people's willingness to consider the CEO job at Mozilla. There seems to be a real fear of becoming the next target for the media and various political issue groups.
Perhaps it's not just the Brendan Eich thing though, maybe it's also the dependence of Mozilla on Google for most of its revenue. Potential CEO candidates may not be willing to join a company so dependent on one source of income without having a clear roadmap of other viable products. This is just speculation on my part, but it may also play into why Mozilla still hasn't found a permanent CEO.
Given the importance of Firefox as a browser, I certainly hope they are able to work through any remaining issues and bring a great new CEO into the fold soon. As the ZDNet article pointed out, Mozilla needs high-quality leadership and it needs it right now.
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