His resignation represents an about-face from his confident and sometimes defiant remarks in an interview published earlier this week by the technology news service Cnet. Insisting that he was best choice to be CEO, Eich told Cnet that it would send the wrong message if he were to resign or apologize for his support of Prop. 8.
"I don't think it's good for my integrity or Mozilla's integrity to be pressured into changing a position," Eich said. "If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla."
At another point, Eich said that attacks on his beliefs represented a threat to Mozilla's survival. "If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we'll probably fail," he said.
Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker apologized for the company's actions in an open letter online Thursday, saying that Eich is stepping down for the company's sake.
"We didn't act like you'd expect Mozilla to act. We didn't move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We're sorry. We must do better," Baker wrote.
She said that Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech and that "figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard."
Mozilla is still discussing what is next for its leadership.