Goodbye, Firefox Marketplace

[For an update on Brendan stepping down, please see here, and for a great summary on why Brendan stepped down from a Mozilla insider, see Mark Surman’s post.]

Several months ago, my husband and I decided that we didn’t just like working together at the same company, but we wanted to go whole-hog and co-found a venture together. The first steps to achieve that were to update some of the applications that I had previously released. Being huge fans of WebOS and open source in general, plus we love focusing on emerging countries, the new Firefox Phone seemed a natural choice for us to focus our development on. We started to porting all of our apps to Firefox OS!

Color puzzle
Color Puzzle

The last couple of months we’ve been working our butts off getting the apps to be awesome. And we’re really proud of them! The one that is live is a puzzle game called Color Puzzle. It is fun, fast, and has a quickly growing audience on Firefox. We’ve got thousands of downloads and thousands of games have been played.

In addition, today was supposed to be the day we launched a dictionary for Firefox phone, based on our Dictionary! app for iPhone and Android.

Except it wasn’t to be. Today we were shocked to read that Brendan Eich has been appointed Mozilla CEO. As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization.

Many people are outraged in a political way, and Michael and I thank all of you for being so supportive. But, for us, this is very, very personal. Michael is a British citizen and so immigration is a big issue for us. Being a binational gay couple, up until this summer when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8, Michael was here on a temporary visa, tied to his job. Luckily, he loved working there, but we were not able to do anything on our own. If you leave your job, you lose your visa. So, due to Prop 8, Michael was unable to co-found a business with me.

Our wedding

Luckily, the Supreme Court dismissed the Prop 8 appeal. Actually, we were featured on the front page of the New York Times the day the ruling was announced! This summer, Michael and I got legally married in the US at San Francisco City Hall, in the same building that Harvey Milk was shot 40 years earlier for standing up for gay rights. It was humbling, emotional, and the best damn day of my life.

Today, Michael has a green card and we’re able to pursue this venture in the US. These days, I am so damn proud of my country for making this all possible. It’s really stunning the support we’ve received, and thank you to everyone out there who have either changed their own minds on the subject, or convinced a relative or friend that there is nothing wrong with the government recognizing our relationship. Thank you.

The overturning of Prop 8, literally was the foundation that allowed us to start this venture.

That’s why it’s personal for us. Brendan Eich was an active supporter of denying our right to be married and even to start this business. He actively took steps to ensure that rarebit couldn’t exist!

Further, he won’t comment on the issue and has not acknowledged any change of opinion. Two years ago, he had an opportunity to change his mind and help change society for better. He has not in two years, and said he will not… so it’s hard to think that any public change of opinion at this time would only be to ensure his new powerful position at Mozilla.

By the very bones in our body, we cannot dare use our creativity, experience, knowledge, and passion to further the career of a man who has to this day not apologized for his support. I can’t spend hours and days and years polishing, building, and upgrading applications that make him richer than he is.

Building great apps is what we love to do, it’s our passion. We want to make great things for people to use. Whether its a fun little puzzle game, or a useful dictionary, or our work on Sass.

Let me do a quick FAQ here to handle a couple responses I know we’ll get immediately:

Brendan Eich is just one person at Mozilla. There are lots of supportive, friendly people at Mozilla who do great work and want to make sure that Mozilla is a supportive place for LGBT people. Why punish all of them?

I certainly recognize that there are great people at Mozilla. And that lots of people there want the org to be open and supportive. However, the board could have chosen ANY of those other, awesome people at Mozilla to be CEO. Out of all the possible candidates they could have chosen, they chose Brendan Eich. CEO’s are extremely important to an organization. Their ideas, beliefs, philosophies, and personalities drive organizations. And, when it’s an organization that I’m personally investing in, it’s even more important.

If you don’t like Brendan than maybe you shouldn’t use Javascript!

I know everyone loves Node, and Javascript is super popular right now. But I have only ever written it because I have to. I don’t write server-side Javascript and keep it to a minimum. I just don’t enjoy the language. I write mostly in Ruby and Go.

People are allowed to have private beliefs. You can’t go after someone for having a private belief

This is a strange one to me and can indeed be a sticky situation. I am NOT judging people who use Firefox, work at Mozilla, or even support Brendan’s right to his opinions. It’s fine that you think I shouldn’t judge his opinion. (This is getting confusing). However, this particular subject is not one that is negotiable to us. We are personally affected by his actions.

It’s not his belief that hurts us. It’s that he actively donated to a cause that directly negatively affected us, personally. It’s not abstract. It’s not a witch hunt. He’s certainly allowed to have his opinion, of course, but I’m allowed to judge his actions of supporting the cause financially.

Actions have consequences.

Including this action on our part. We wasted months of work by building this applications and taking them down. We will lose a lot of money personally. No VC’s here… just our savings and trying to bootstrap a business.

The plan was to launch this site in 3-4 months, but instead, we’ve launched it early to post this. We apologize for the weak design as you see it and the prototype logo. We’re looking forward to saying a lot more happy things on this blog in the future.

Hampton headHampton Catlin is the creator of Sass, Haml, Tritium, and Wikipedia mobile. He’s one part back end developer, one part startup leader, and one part chaos monky. He’s also CEO of rarebit, which he co-founded with his husband. He speaks at a lot of conferences, writes a lot of code, and spends way too much time on Twitter at @hcatlin.

Dear Mozilla,

As a married gay couple who are co-founders of this venture, we have chosen to boycott all Mozilla projects. We will not develop apps or test styles on Firefox anymore.

Effective today, we’re removing Color Puzzle from the Firefox Marketplace and stopping work on all of our Firefox-related applications, notably the about-to-launch Firefox version of the popular Dictionary! app for iPhone and Android.

This is in protest of the appointment of Brendan Eich to the position of CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, where he had previously served as CTO.

We will continue our boycott until Brendan Eich is completely removed from any day to day activities at Mozilla, which we believe is extremely unlikely after all he’s survived and the continued support he has received from Mozilla.

This makes us very sad, as we love the little guy fighting to make things better. But it’s because of our status as a minority that we simply can’t ignore this slap in the face of giving him a promotion to lead your organization.

Hampton Catlin (@hcatlin)
CEO, rarebit

Update: If you think asking him to step down is overkill, then go read the next post 5 Reasons Eich Should Step Down.