Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over

Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Software, 28th July 2014 18:36 GMT

Mozilla has confirmed that Chris Beard, who was appointed as interim CEO three months ago as a replacement for controversial Brendan Eich, will stay at the helm for the foreseeable future.

"Chris has a keen sense of where Mozilla has been – and where we’re headed," said Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman at Mozilla.

"He has unique experience connecting with every constituency that touches our products, including consumers, partners and community members. There’s simply no better person to lead Mozilla as we extend our impact from Firefox on the desktop to the worlds of mobile devices and services."

Beard spent nearly a decade with Mozilla, joining in 2004 as head of product management just after Firefox 1.0 was released. Since then he's been involved in the development of pretty much all of Mozilla's product line and spent time as the group's chief innovation officer and chief marketing officer.

He left Mozilla in 2013 for a lucrative sinecure as executive-in-residence at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock Partners, but remained an advisor to the open-source foundation's board. But when the Brendan Eich fracas broke out, Beard was recalled and asked to steer the organization back into calmer waters.

Eich was appointed CEO of Mozilla in March this year, but he lasted less than two weeks in the job. Half of Mozilla's board quit after his appointment – although some of these resignations were scheduled before he was offered the job – but it was his donation of $1,000 to California's Proposition 8 campaign, which sought to ban gay marriage in the state, that aroused the ire of staff and led to a small boycott of Firefox.

In the end, Eich was forced to step down from the CEO role, with Beard appointed to replace him and rebuild the board. Beard appointed Mozilla insider Andreas Gal as the group's CTO and has been expanding on the rollout of Firefox OS and organizing Mozilla's lobbying campaign in support of net neutrality.

Feedback from Mozilla's staff on Beard's first three months has been very positive. He's a known quantity and wasn't as abrasive as Eich in his internal dealings, but with Firefox losing browser share, and Firefox OS getting off to a slow start, he has plenty of work to do. ®

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