April 5th, 2014

Mozilla: in the Silicon Valley bubble

The folks at Mozilla may yet live to regret their decision in cooperating with the forcing out of Brendan Eich. Apparently the internet giant has been getting a lot of negative reaction to its jettisoning of Eich for his 2008 contribution in support of California’s Proposition 8.

I have no idea whether this will end up hurting Mozilla, but I doubt very much that Mozilla anticipated even 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.

[ADDENDUM: 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.]

33 Responses to “Mozilla: in the Silicon Valley bubble”

  1. chuck Says:

    Mozilla is in a bad spot anyway, Firefox is falling behind the competition, not only in market share, but in performance and stability. Someone joked that punishing Mozilla Corporation is not unlike punishing RIM (BlackBerry). I don’t think it is that bad, but this is not a good time for them to involve themselves in the culture war. My own sense is that they may have committed suicide.

  2. Eric Says:

    “No H8″ set the bar.

  3. Tonawanda Says:

    I chose Firefox a few years ago as a personal and totally inconsequential protest against the Leftist mentality of the other guys. It seemed like the least political, most straight down the line browser.

    (I used to pay Carbonite money, but now have I-drive).

    I just want to pay for or simply use what folks do, not for their puerile but harmful totalitarian mentality.

    I tried Opera but in trying to make Bing (another apparently non-ideological venue until proven otherwise) my home page (I often start my browsing by looking something up) I found Opera made it a stupidly complex process. Who knows why.

    This is the state we are in. Every personal thing has been made political. The National Socialists (the sub-group) and the Class Socialists (the generic group) have won. Only humanity suffers as a result.

    But humanity has apparently chosen to suffer, and so must we all.

  4. Ymarsakar Says:

    Nothing a little Death won’t cure. People just have to have the guts to take the medicine.

  5. n.n Says:

    I find it curious that support ends with normalization of homosexual behavior. Why is there a selective exclusion of other behaviors and associations? This is especially peculiar when we include the normalization of murder/abortion. With the first, there is a demonstrated disinterest in objective standards. With the second, there is a demonstrated disinterest in human rights, specifically an unalienable right to life. Furthermore, with the second, there is no longer a morally defensible position to argue against normalization of any behavior, association, etc., really. The advocates, activists, and supporters of selective (i.e. unprincipled) treatments have, once again, created a moral hazard, which they are either unwilling or incapable of reconciling. I guess money, sex, ego, convenience, and population control trump all other considerations.

  6. gs Says:

    I agree with chuck but will go a little farther.

    Speculation: Mozilla’s corporate culture has become dysfunctional. The Eich defenestration and the sputtering browser spring from a common set of deficiencies.

  7. expat Says:

    I think that many of the computer genies are very bright people who are so focussed on their own cleverness that they fail to even look at bigger pictures. They are most interested in being with the in group.

    I see it here with the Pirate Party, a group of jerks who thought their interest in internet freedom and cost-free downloads of everything was enough of a reason to be considered a real political party. When asked about any issue other than computers, they had no idea. These are the people that support Snowden and probably don’t know who Putin is.

    The me, me, me mindset really does believe that having a cool wedding cake is important. Note that this issue was pushed by an online dating site, probably a place where people are judged solely on their coolness. How well can you judge the character of a potential partner on the basis of self advertisement? Someone somewhere should be teaching these people to distinguishe the superficial from the really important.

  8. tim maguire Says:

    I would expect this tempest to blow over fairly quickly (though not so quickly as it might have had Mozilla handled it better). Nevertheless, the seeds of Mozilla’s decline have been sown–they have set a policy that they will draw their talent not from the pool of talent, but from a smaller pool within it of talent that meets their theological criteria.

    By voluntarily reducing their talent resources, they have not lost their edge, but actually given it away. Unless they change their approach, decline is inevitable.

  9. New Class Traitor Says:

    Here is a piece at the Daily Telegraph from somebody who (before the current fracas) checked out OKCupid, and discovered it to be a hotbed of every bizarre paraphilia imaginable (urolagnia, coprophilia, strangulation,… )
    http://t.co/baoGMQChbA

    If this is the type of site one needs to placate by throwing the creator of Javascript on the street, then we are just a modern version of the Roman empire at the worst of its decay.

  10. Geoff Says:

    Toleration isn’t good enough, which most give now a days. Nothing short of affirmation and celebration will do.

  11. Mike Eustace Says:

    I expressed my disgust with their action on their feedback site yesterday and then removed Firefox from my phone, laptop and desktop. I started using FF way back in 2005 or so, and it was my primary, but I also have Chrome and IE. Will use both of those until one of them does a similar PC thing.

  12. Rob Says:

    Correction: in California it actually is illegal to discriminate in employment based on political activities. So Mozilla may have broken the law, too.

  13. theBuckWheat Says:

    This is also a warning that corporate culture does matter, and that any person looking for a job had better do their homework to make sure they are not shopping their resume at a company with a culture that is hostile to their personal values.

  14. Jack Okie Says:

    I have removed Firefox from my computers, and have replaced it with Iron (based on Google’s Chromium core without being Goggle centric like Chrome, and with an emphasis on privacy and security), and Pale Moon (an optimized and trimmed version of the Firefox source). I’ll have a bake-off over the next few weeks to see which (if either) are keepers.

  15. John Says:

    It would be interesting to get ahead of the curve here and ask the people running Mozilla, their staff and others in Silicon Valley what their feelings are about people who donate, not directly to something like Prop 8, but to churches who are opposed to same-sex marriage. Because that’s where this is headed in a few years time.

    The activists are unlikely to play their hand right now, but 2-3 years down the line, we will get to a situation where people will be branded as H8-ters in the usual bi-coastal enclaves if they dare to be practicing members of a Judeo-Christian denomination that opposes same-sex marriage (the tolerant left of course won’t make a stink if you’re a mere plumber, construction worker or hold some other job they have no respect for. But tech, media, law and political positions will come under attack by the LBGT wing of the PC thought police).

  16. The Silicon Valley Bubble | Transterrestrial Musings Says:

    [...] was almost certainly too insular to anticipate the firefox firestorm that may be about to hit [...]

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    was enough of a reason to be considered a real political party

    That’s what the Democrats thought when they started Civil War I because of slavery. Everyone obeyed them back then as they do now, for the loyalists.

    Politics were always naturally local and specialized. It wasn’t until later that people thought Presidents and politicians were Divine Gods that had to be Obeyed or Else.

  18. Conservatives boycotting Mozilla Says:

    [...] I looked on Mozilla's site for a bit and did not find any obvious/easy means to give this feedback. This blog post, in its first paragraph, links to a Mozilla FF feedback page (click on the highlighted words, [...]

  19. New Class Traitor Says:

    “the tolerant left of course won’t make a stink if you’re a mere plumber, construction worker or hold some other job they have no respect for. But tech, media, law and political positions will come under attack by the LBGT wing of the PC thought police”

    Precisely. The Vaishas and Shudras can do as they please. Their fellow neo-Brahmins must toe the line.

    “Some things, the more you understand them, the more you loathe them.” (R A Heinlein)

  20. PD Quig Says:

    I just uninstalled Firefox from four family computers yesterday. No great loss: several months ago I had already had to uninstall Adobe Flash since no version of FF in recent memory could run more than a few hours without crashing for Flash-related reasons.

    I spent 12 years as a SW product manager for web-based enterprise supply chain solutions. I have noted that FF has been going downhill for years. Now I have an inkling why. They are obviously more concerned with liberal orthodoxy and kowtowing to employee demands than excellence in product development.

  21. rickl Says:

    I just posted this on the Mormon thread, but it probably belongs here instead:

    While I wasn’t using Firefox (I was using Safari), all the talk about different browsers made me download and try Epic. I found it from a link at Instapundit.

    https://www.epicbrowser.com/

    Epic claims to be a private browser that blocks tracking. It also has a feature that uses IP proxies which can be turned on and off. It’s available for both Mac and PC. It imported my bookmarks from Safari, but I have to re-enter my name and e-mail before commenting here. Epic deletes that kind of stuff when quitting, along with history, cache, etc.

    I’ve only been using it for an hour or so, but it looks interesting so far, and it’s working fine. I didn’t have a problem with Safari, but decided to try Epic out of curiosity. I like it, and will probably make it my default browser.

  22. Federale (@Federale86) Says:

    All liberals are Stalinists. I hope Mozilla goes bankrupt.

  23. Orhin Says:

    Not only that Mozilla is falling behind, they have NO own inventions anymore.

    Take a look of Australis. Copies Google’s minimalism and lack of customization options concept.

    Mozilla believes they can port over Googles concept 1:1 to Firefox, but the difference is Firefox was standing for customization and Google was standing for raw Internet experience.

    And now with Australis Power users are forced to install add-ons for having the old customization options again in the browser. Australis makes Power Users a second class user base!

    They insert adds into the new tab pages similar to the early Opera browsers too.

    Mozilla has become exactly like Google. It is enough! These guys are NO good ones anymore. They are even becoming worse as Google slowly!

  24. Orhin Says:

    If you are too against conformity and copy cats… Drop them a message that you do not support Australis with their Chrome clone plans!

    https://input.mozilla.org/en-US/feedback

  25. jim Says:

    I’m in a quandary because Firefox has the best privacy viewing options, which is helpful when looking at pr0n.

    There’s an irony here about women vs gays, but I don’t think Mozilla gets it.

  26. Pat D Says:

    I have tried Epic. It has very strong privacy settings but otherwise acts like Chrome. Could be a keeper. Avant also looks good because it can render using IE, Chrome or Firefox rendering engines. Nice for Web developers testing their wares. I have to keep Firefox because I need to check my code against it. But I won’t be using it for anything else.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    Rob:

    I think Mozilla would defend itself against any employment discrimination charge by saying that Eich resigned of his own free will, and that the pressure was brought to bear by private citizens rather than Mozilla.

    I also think that would be a lie, but I think that would be their defense, and it might work.

    Also, not sure that CEOs come under that law. They are special kinds of employees. They might, though.

  28. Oldflyer Says:

    Geoff is unfortunately right on target: “Toleration isn’t good enough, which most give now a days. Nothing short of affirmation and celebration will do.”
    This seems to be exactly where we are on certain issues.

    Agree with others that Firefox’s performance was deteriorating; and I was close to looking for an alternative anyway. Mozilla simply crystallized the decision.

    Although it is a little distasteful, IE11 will do until I find an acceptable alternative. I don’t want to go through multiple trials, so I will do some investigation to find a simple browser that lets me go from place to place without a lot of clutter, and without spying on me.

  29. Mac Says:

    I’ve joined the thousands (according to Mozilla’s feedback site) who have uninstalled Firefox, and let them know, and why. It’s a personal annoyance, beyond the controversy, because I had just last week decided to dump Chrome and go back to Firefox. For now it will be IE 11, which I’m discovering is really pretty decent. I’ll investigate some of the other options that people are mentioning. I’d never heard of most of them.

    This is another of those things, so frequent nowadays, are shocking but not surprising.

  30. tioedong Says:

    Eich is probably not covered by Title VII of the 1964 civil rights act, but I wonder why so few blogs know this exists.

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    tioedong:

    I think most people know Title VII exists. I don’t see why they’d discuss it, though, because it doesn’t seem to apply to this case. The list of protected categories in Title VII does not include political viewpoints and/or donations. Religion is included, but Eich never said his stance was based on religion.

    There is a California law that prohibits employment discrimination based on political views. I discussed it in this comment.

  32. rickl Says:

    Oldflyer Says:
    April 6th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Although it is a little distasteful, IE11 will do until I find an acceptable alternative. I don’t want to go through multiple trials, so I will do some investigation to find a simple browser that lets me go from place to place without a lot of clutter, and without spying on me.

    Try Epic. I’ve been using it since this morning and I like it so far. I had to play around with font sizes at first, and there are a few quirks that will take some getting used to, but nothing major. I was able to import my bookmarks from Safari with no problem.

    http://www.epicbrowser.com

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    Pale Moon uses the mozilla source. Torch and Chrome are based off google slickness.

    So either platform can be used as an alternative.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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