Market Wisdom in Action

After Brendan Eich’s timely and deserved demise at Mozilla, Nate Silver looks at Silicon Valley and Prop 8 donations:

However, there was quite a bit of variation from business to business. 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. Only four Proposition 8 donors listed it as their employer: Eich, who donated in support of the measure, and three others who opposed it. But it’s likely that employee sentiment at Mozilla is much like that at Google. The organizations share a lot in common; Google accounts for a large share of Mozilla’s revenue, and both are based in Mountain View, Calif. Mozilla has a reputation for progressivity, and almost all donations by its employees during the 2012 election cycle were to liberal or libertarian candidates and causes.

Since half the Mozilla board resigned after Eich was appointed CEO, I’m not quite sure who wanted him to run the place, but clearly his anti-gay sentiments are not shared at companies with a lot of software developers (Google being a prime example).  Since Mozilla is a non-profit that relies on good relationships with small software developers (who develop plugins or submit code fixes) as well as large corporations (like Google, whose search deal with Mozilla helps keep the lights on), Eich’s politics made for bad business.

In other words, the market solved this problem.

48 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I’m still not sure that Eich’s anti-gay druthers are the real reason he was basically forced to resign. I suspect, but have no clue as to what the reasons may be, that some other factors were in play, quite apart from his dubious (Pat Buchanan? Ron Paul?) political leanings.

    It seems like there were some internal political things going on at Mozilla, and Eich’s political preferences provide a good public cover story for something else.

    Also, too, this is great for displays of wingtard poutrage.

  2. 2
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    No, fascist hate speech trampled on Eich’s free speech!


  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: The fascist hate speech was just standing its ground.

  4. 4
    gbear says:

    If you look at Nate’s list, we should all start boycotting intel immediately. Everyone else on that chart was pretty gay-marriage friendly, but intel was 60/40 on the wrong side. Wonder why they’re so out of sync with all the other companies?

  5. 5
    different-church-lady says:

    @gbear: Apple computers have Intel chips… man, this is going to get complicated….

  6. 6
    Bubblegum Tate says:


    Love it!

  7. 7
    Walker says:


    Intel is a horrid company with poor labor practices. You should have been boycotting them long ago.

  8. 8
    Roger Moore says:

    You can’t trust anything Nate Silver says about Prop 8 because he’s gay! /wingnut

  9. 9
    Fuzzy says:

    The present attitude towards gay marriage/rights no longer needs the militant approach here in CA in fact it has started to create a backlash. A very old fart like me has come around to the modern world and does not care for this “my way or the highway” approach that the gay community is taking. We all should have rights to an opinion and after all this is how the entire rainbow parade movement started.

  10. 10
    🍀 Martin says:

    Nate should be better than this: ” At Intel, 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8.”

    There were 101 donations from Intel totaling $90,500. Intel has 105,000 employees, and 12,500 are in CA. A sample of .1% is a joke, and even 1% if we assume only CA employees (unclear without going back to the database). Looking at the other companies, Apple had 202 donations totaling $88,000. They have 30,000 employees in California, again only 1%. Outside of our hollywood and sports stars, these are the wealthiest people not just in CA but in the country. There are billionaires in these companies, and thousands of millionaires.

    The only thing this proves is how politically inactive silicon valley is. Perhaps 1% of employees gave money, and gave roughly .001% of payroll. I bet more than 1% of the employees of both companies are in same-sex relationships who would have a vested interest in donating. Drawing a conclusion here is equivalent to nutpicking.

    If I wanted to know the culture of the place, I’d look at the volume of giving outside of the number of employees that are gay. Either these companies have no gay employees (and I happen to know there are many gay employees at Apple and Google and some of the others), or you can draw exactly zero conclusions about the culture of the companies.

  11. 11
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    I don’t like how Nate lumped liberal and libertarian together under the banner of progressivity. To me, they aren’t close at all.

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    @gbear: Hardware people are weird. Much more likely to find the stereotypical engineer on the hardware side.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Fuzzy: Human rights are human rights. Martin Niemöller, etc.


  14. 14
    scav says:

    @Fuzzy: One detail though is that it’s more than just the “gay community” (as though they’ve even taken a single approach and stance to gay marriage) that took action here. This response was bigger — you seem to have more people standing on your lawn and are yelling at hyperbolic reactions in general. Not that I disagree with the impulse, but let’s get the correct target.

    ETA, agree personally that the actions of the board give a whiff of something else / more going on here.

  15. 15
    🍀 Martin says:

    @MikeJ: WTF. 100 donations. You could have gotten all of them out of HR, or marketing, or fuck, they all employ 10x that many attorneys. This information is utterly useless.

    In the signal and the noise, this is the noise.

  16. 16
    gbear says:

    @Fuzzy: Your right to an opinion is honestly open to attack when your opinion is that other people should have fewer rights than you. There is no ‘agreeing to disagree’ on that.

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual: Libertarians are, in fact, regressives. They loathe democracy because it aspires to give even those people a voice, and restrains the abilities of libertarians to live free by treading on the rights of the unworthy

    They are neo-feudalists. They are dogshit..

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @🍀 Martin: Increasing the signal over the noise is supposed to be what Silver is about, yet this works precisely the other way.

    SIlver’s assimilation in to the hive mind collective of the Village is advancing nicely.

  19. 19
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Wingnut today:
    “Going after Eich because he dared to dissent from the concept of legalized, same-sex marriage is the worst thing that has ever happened in our nation in terms of freedom. The campaign against him was motivated entirely by hatred”

    The WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED, you guys! It’s nothing but hatred! Certainly not nearly as good for freedom–or as hatred-free–as being bigoted against gays.

    I think I shall brew my morning tea with wingnut tears.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: The wingnuts really need to look into that broken caps lock key of theirs.

  21. 21
    MikeJ says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: Remember when Disney had to be punished for being insufficiently bigoted (i.e., they were willing to accept the money of anybody who wanted to hand it over?) Outside pressure groups trying to dictate to corporations was supposed to be a good thing back then.

  22. 22
    scav says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: That just made me think. Some form of wingnut tears drip coffee-maker might provide a perfect slow-brew machine. could wander in in our pj’s, find it reading the newspaper, pat it gently on the head, check the brew level in the pot under the chin and wander off to the toaster and frying pan.

  23. 23
    Nutella says:

    The market spoke but the libertarians hate that when the market speaks against their side. (Their side being Republicans who want to smoke dope.)

    Conor Friedersdorf, as always, took the right-wing side while claiming to be liberal. His article was particularly gross when he sneered at the software developers who originally refused to develop for Mozilla expressing their regret at Eich’s resignation. He’s a tool, as he always is.

  24. 24
    Bubblegum Tate says:


    Well, that was different because shut up, that’s why.

    With this particular wingnut, he has expressed the notion that any sort of boycott is “fascist” (he uses the word “fascist” a whole hell of a lot, but I don’t think I have ever seen him use it correctly), but now he’s posting up all sorts of “Boycott Mozilla! Uninstall Firefox!” stuff. I asked him to explain this inconsistency. For some strange reason, he has not responded.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    Had a FB acquaintance who just posted a bit ago about how the liberal government got Eich canned. Obama fired him.
    There is no reasoning with someone who is that far gone.

  26. 26
    WaterGirl says:

    never mind.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    Sorry, but the “my way or the highway” people are the ones who are trying to take rights away from people not just like them, not the ones trying to protect those rights. Even today, even in California, attempts to protect LGBT rights are met with immediate referendum campaigns to roll them right back. I’ll accept that the time for militancy is over when the attempts to take away LGBT rights stop.

  28. 28
    gbear says:

    @Ruckus: Why didn’t Obama just buy him a ticket for flight 370?

  29. 29
    scav says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: anyone ask them why HobbyLobby gets to impose its moral values on employees but not Mozilla and other LBGT-equality companies? Because it increasingly is companies pushing some of this. Cheerios and Honey Grahams on the ad front, others in objecting to really crap AZ legislation. This could get more interesting than they want to contemplate. See also VW and union(oids) and all multinational companies, both zozialist Euro and Eek-ME based.

  30. 30
    NonyNony says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Sorry, but the “my way or the highway” people are the ones who are trying to take rights away from people not just like them, not the ones trying to protect those rights.

    Q. F. Fucking. T.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:


    The present attitude towards gay marriage/rights no longer needs the militant approach here in CA in fact it has started to create a backlash.

    It was only 6 years ago that a majority of Californians decided to overrule the California Supreme Court and pass a second constitutional amendment to ban gay people from getting married. I think it’s a little early to declare unequivocal victory for gay rights in the state, and I don’t really blame people for being a little militant to try and guard a right that their fellow citizens have been playing keepaway with.

  32. 32
    giantslor says:

    “In other words, the market solved this problem.”

    Exactly. It’s amusing seeing all these free-market warriors crying when it works like it’s supposed to. And since corporations are people, wasn’t Mozilla just exercising its free speech rights to not associate with Eich, as any person would?

  33. 33
    scav says:

    @Mnemosyne: Look where not being vigilant about women’s rights landed us. Those were supposedly “settled” and “won” much longer than 6 years ago. See also civil and voting rights.

  34. 34
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    Shorter “Fuzzy”: You uppity faggots are getting on my nerves! You should respect the opinions of people who deny you the right to your own!

  35. 35
    Ruckus says:


    Nice. That’s probably a better answer than defriending him. But my sanity is better my way.

  36. 36
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion: Yup. Troll is trolling.

  37. 37
    Darkrose says:

    @Fuzzy: You have the right to express your opinion.

    I have the right to respond.

  38. 38
    Venice says:

    How is what happened to Eich anything other than “The politics of personal destruction?”

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:


    How is what happened to Eich anything other than “The politics of personal destruction?”

    If it was all about personal destruction, why did several board members resign when Eich was chosen as CEO?

    Frankly, I think the Prop 8 stuff was the convenient excuse. I seriously doubt those board members resigned solely because of Eich’s political views.

  40. 40
    Keith G says:

    I hope that was the case. If it is, those board members need to talk openly about it. If the donation was the extent of Brendan Eich’s political activism, I do not think that that alone should qualify as a terminal offense. It seems so very small. I “pray” that we are bigger and stronger than that. I have never been a fan of firing people because of their non-work, legal behavior.

  41. 41
    kindness says:

    It was funny watching Sully weathervane back & forth over the resignation all week. At first he was shrieking (you know, the patented Sully move) about Liberal intolerance & later he went to the ‘forced’ resignation might have been an income/talent walking out the door maybe OK to quit kind of thing.

    He didn’t have to resign and none of us are forced to use Firefox, although it is my preferred browser. Had he stayed I would have switched. Wasn’t it Reagan who popularized voting with your feet?

  42. 42
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    @kindness: Pretty sure it was Martin Luther King. Alabama bus boycott.

  43. 43
    divF says:

    @MikeJ: People with pocket protectors, along with shirts that have breast pockets to put them it.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    Here’s an interesting blog post about some of the underlying issues. It’s getting reported as, Eich was run out of town by gay bullies! but it sounds like there is some serious ongoing debate at the upper levels of Mozilla about what the company should be and how it should be run, and Eich ended up as a symbol of that dispute. You don’t lose three board members in a short period of time if everything is just peachy.

  45. 45
    Chuckles says:

    This might be too late for people who have their minds made up that this is a black and white political issue, but this great post from an insider addresses a lot of the “if A then why B?” questions above:
    Ritual ideological purity check: I’m not a CA resident, but I donated a higher % of my income against Prop 8 than Eich did in favor. And I can’t stand that people conflate voting for Prop 8 (a very easy thing that 52% of CA voters did) with donating $1000 in favor. The donation is vastly more repugnant, and I personally can’t fathom how someone who’s done so much for the cause of internet freedom and progress can simultaneously feel that strongly against gay marriage. Nevertheless, many of the premises of the arguments above aren’t accurate.

    0) Brendan was one of two founders of Mozilla. Without Brendan there would have been no Mozilla. Without Mozilla, there would have been no Firefox, and the internet would be very different today.

    8) Mozilla has policies in place that explicitly and precisely explain how we deal with conflicts between personal beliefs and community inclusiveness… [this section is far too long to quote, but it’s the central argument that explains how the board could be aware of Eich’s donation, generally disagree with this political belief, and yet not think it disqualified the co-founder from being appointed as CEO. ] …

    12) On March 28th, the Wall Street Journal reported that three Mozilla Corporation board members had resigned. The article incorrectly implied that the resignations were in protest of Brendan’s selection.

    I highly recommend reading the whole thing if you want to understand what really happened inside this company, and not just understand this as the left/right political issue of the day, which is very much not what it is to Mozilla.

  46. 46
    JaneE says:

    When I was programming, programmers cared about if a program worked, and anything else about a programmer was irrelevant. If you were good, nothing else mattered and if you weren’t, nothing else helped. It looks like that still applies to software companies.

  47. 47
    mzrad says:

    Intolerance is bad for business

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chuckles: Well, I read it, and I’m still not clear on how all this happened, so quickly. Other than the WSJ thought they had a scoop and that started the snowball rolling.

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