The people at Mozilla may yet live to regret their decision in cooperating with the forcing out of Brendan Eich.
Whether or not this will actually end up hurting Mozilla, one wonders whether Mozilla even anticipated the possibility. The folks at Mozilla travel in a world in which PC thought dominates, and if you don’t believe me, take Nate Silver’s word for it (and after the 2012 election, I’m inclined to take Nate Silver’s word for just about anything):
I checked the records for some of the largest technology companies in Silicon Valley: specifically those that were in the Fortune 500 as of 2008. The list includes Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco Systems, Apple, Google, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Oracle, Yahoo, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Symantec. I limited the search to donors who listed California as their location.
In total between these 11 companies, 83 percent of employee donations were in opposition to Proposition 8. So Eich was in a 17 percent minority relative to the top companies in Silicon Valley…
At Intel, 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8. By contrast, at Apple, 94 percent of employee donations were made in opposition to Proposition 8. The opposition was even higher at Google, where 96 percent of employee donations were against it, including $100,000 from co-founder Sergey Brin.
There isn’t much data on Mozilla…But it’s likely that employee sentiment at Mozilla is much like that at Google. The organizations share a lot in common…
The point is that many of these companies are staffed by people so heavily in support of gay marriage, and are immersed in an environment that is also so strongly supportive, that they probably have forgotten that the entire country is not quite like that—and that even a significant number of people who are in favor of gay marriage may not be in favor of forcing someone who’s against it to resign.
Mozilla’s business, however, is not limited to Silicon Valley or even California, a fact those in charge who helped to force Eich out may sometimes forget. It’s even possible that Mozilla may be hoist on its own petard, and experience unforeseen economic consequences for its actions.
And by the way, there’s a world of difference between boycotting a company for its company policies and company actions—in this case, facilitating Eich’s “resignation”—and threatening a boycott to force a company to get rid of a CEO or any employee for his/her private, personal, non-company and non-performance-related political beliefs. A world of difference, although both are legal.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]