In the past few weeks, a pair of companies have had to deal with backlash over appointments to their leadership ranks.
Both Dropbox and Mozilla saw dramatic reactions from the public over personnel changes.
As was widely reported, Mozilla caught flack over its appointment of Brendan Eich to the post of CEO. At issue here was Eich's position on same-sex marriage. Eich donated to the campaign for Proposition 8, which aimed to make same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California. While Prop 8 did pass, it was struck down in 2008. Eich eventually stepped down from the CEO post as a result of the controversy.
Dropbox, meanwhile, was cited by netizens for appointing to its board former Secretary of State under the Bush administration Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Almost immediately upon announcing Rice's appointment, a website called "Drop Dropbox" was launched, which advocated for a boycott of Dropbox over Rice's appointment.
I was surprised to read the heated comments at the bottom of Wireless Week's story about Rice's appointment. We don't see a lot of heated political discourse in our comment section. Debate over Android and iOS? Yes. Verizon versus AT&T? Check. Partisan wrangling? Not so much.
Steve, sarcastically argues, "If Dropbox wants to learn how to invent pretexts for wars of aggression against weak countries, feeding the right propaganda at the right time to a supine press, she is what they need!"
Jimbo retorts with, "SICKO-LIBTARDS You can't get away from 'em!"
Regardless how you feel about the appointment of either Rice or Eich, I'm encouraged that the public is keeping accountable those companies that have access to our most sensitive personal information.
Through its browser products and emerging Web-based smartphone platform, Mozilla is trusted with keeping private information about everything from an end user's location to the websites she visits. Users of Dropbox, meanwhile, entrust that company with troves of photos, documents and other information.
That said, this kind of discourse around who is actually in charge of those businesses that do keep our information is exceedingly important. While I'm not sure that name-calling tactics are necessarily helpful, I am at least encouraged that the public is aware of what's happening in big technology and is active in implementing what appears to be a rough set of checks and balances within that realm.