The newly appointed CEO of Mozilla Brendan Eich has stepped down following widespread protests over his opposition to gay marriage in California.
The nonprofit foundation, creator of the Firefox browser, infuriated a large number of employees and users last week by promoting Mr Eich, who was already known to have made a $1,000 donation in 2008 to the Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriages in the state.
A constitutional amendment, Proposition 8 was initially passed in California before being overturned when the US Supreme Court last year left in place a lower-court ruling striking down the ballot measure.
As well as users and employees voicing their anger online, OKCupid, one of the most visited dating website in the world, replaced its usual homepage for users logging in with Firefox, with a note suggesting they not use Mozilla's software to access the site in light of Mr Eich’s appointment.
Firefox is the third most popular Web browser in the world.
Announcing the resignation, which came less than two weeks after Mr Eich was promoted from chief technology officer, Mozilla’s chairwoman Mitchell Baker, writing on the company’s blog said Mr Eich made the decision for “Mozilla and our community”.
“We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” she said.
“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.”
Mozilla had initially defended the appointment, asserting Mozilla’s “official support of equality and inclusion for LGBT people”. Mr Eich had said he would not step down.
Apologising for the firm’s handling of the controversy, Ms Mitchell added 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...But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community”.
Mozilla is now discussing what is next for its leadership, she said.