Gun-Toting Mozilla Employees Demand CEO “Step Down” [Updated: Satire]

Note: Mozilla says that they are getting “alarmed” phone calls and this post is causing people to become worried that there has been some kind of shooting incident at the company. So just to be clear, this is satire.

This morning, a number of gun-owning and gun-sympathizing Mozilla employees took to Twitter with a united, nearly simultaneous message to new Mozilla Corporation CEO Brendan Eich, who favors gun control: “Step down.”

The internal response began this morning with two tweets from Mozilla Open Badges project lead Chris McAvoy. “I love @mozilla but I’m disappointed this week,” McAvoy said, referring to the controversial decision to appoint Eich as CEO after it was revealed he had donated $1,000 six years ago to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.

“@mozilla stands for openness and tolerance for all, but is acting in the opposite way.” He then made a more pronounced declaration: “I strongly believe in the second amendment and as an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO.”

Within minutes, many other Mozilla employees followed suit, using similar language or copying each other’s statements outright. Those included Mozilla Festival curator Chloe Vareldi, partnerships lead John Bevan, designer Jessica Klein, and engagement team member Sydney Moyer.

McAvoy added that he feels fortunate to work at a company like Mozilla, “where now, at least, I feel safe speaking out about my gun rights and bringing my concealed gun to work so that I can protect myself.”

Other employees demanded Eich apologize for his support of gun control: “Pressuring him until he finally apologizes properly, which I hope is the end of this, is reasonable. He deserves every bit of condemnation he is receiving. He hurt people. Why shouldn’t he be held accountable?”

““I was wrong to support gun control, and I no longer oppose the NRA.” Until an apology includes that sentence or words to that effect, it’s not an apology for his actual offense.”

He added “It wasn’t evil when we shamed the racists out of the public square. It isn’t evil to treat the anti-gun bigots the same way.”

Neither McAvoy nor the other quoted employees mentioned Eich’s statement this week expressing sorrow for those he’s hurt. All of them expressed surprise to learn that the definition of “tolerance” includes “the willingness to tolerate something, particularly opinions or behavior that one does not agree with.”

Now Can We End The Barbaric, Repulsive, Germ Spreading Handshake?

Last week was the semi-annual gathering of large parts of Silicon Valley at Y Combinator Demo day. We met and invested in a lot of great startups. But I also picked something else up (I think) at Demo Day – A godawful nasty case of the flu.

This wasn’t just a normal flu. This is the kind of flu where you become a drugstore cowboy, taking any and every pill that can possibly mitigate your suffering. The kind of flu that brings your face into intimate contact with your toilet seat.

Parts of Saturday night I was tripping balls, although I don’t know if it was from the half bottle of NyQuil I downed or from the raging fever slow roasting my brain. I was easily sicker than any time I can remember since I was seven years old.

Two days after I started my girlfriend got it (I’m sorry). We took another swing through CVS today to stock up on more drugs. Most of my symptoms have receded, although I now have a thriving cough and brutal sore throat that I’m pretty sure is planning on sticking around for as long as possible. I also have a very grumpy girlfriend on my hands.

Anyway, I’m blaming Demo Day, particularly after reading about YC head Sam Altman’s own flu woes just now on Facebook. A bunch of other people who were there seem to have gotten sick as well, based on the comments to his post.

How do we fix this? We end the goddamned barbaric practice of handshaking, that’s how.

I first wrote about this in 2009, noting that we continue this repulsively stupid activity only because so many people find it so odd and insulting, not to shake hands.

I wrote again and again about the evils of handshaking, but I eventually gave up and simply started carrying hand sanitizer with me at all times.

I forgot to bring hand sanitizer to Demo Day.

I sincerely hope that Y Combinator bans handshaking at future Demo Days. I also call on TechCrunch and other conference organizers to institute no-handshake policies at events, starting with TechCrunch Disrupt in NY next month.

We know people don’t stay home when they’re sick, and we know that most people rarely wash their hands, even after using the bathroom. The only solution I see to this is for events, where the germs really run wild, to strongly suggest to attendees that they keep their damned hands to themselves.

This Is Intolerance

Watching all of these Mozilla employees demand the removal of Brendan Eich as CEO makes me extremely uneasy.

What did Eich do? He donated a thousand dollars in support of California’s Prop 8 back in 2008.

I was against Prop 8 and am pretty clear on my feelings about gay rights in general. In short, I disagree with Eich’s positions in 2008.

But Eich has changed his mind and has apologized, just like millions of others, including our current president who was against same sex marriage when he first ran for president in 2008.

One Mozilla employee, Chris McAvoy, says he feels fortunate to work for Mozilla where he can speak out against Eich “without fear of retribution.”

McAvoy clearly appreciates his ability to speak his mind without fear of retribution. But he also demands the termination of employment of a person that he disagrees with.

That sounds like hypocrisy, and intolerance, to me.

America continues to shift dramatically towards less intolerance towards gays. Those that are happy this is happening, like I am, should not aim to destroy those citizens who just took a little longer than we did to come around to our way of thinking.

About That Time Google Spied On My Gmail

I’m reading about how Microsoft read a blogger’s Hotmail (or other Microsoft hosted email) to determine who leaked Microsoft information to that blogger. Microsoft’s response is pathetic, stating that “the privacy of our customers is incredibly important to us” in the same post that explains that they’ll keep doing it.

While I think that doing this is both evil and shortsighted (they lose trust and users), the only thing that surprised me was that they admitted it.

As the Guardian points out, other email providers also reserve the right to do this in their terms of service.

I have first hand knowledge of this. A few years ago, I’m nearly certain that Google accessed my Gmail account after I broke a major story about Google.

A couple of weeks after the story broke my source, a Google employee, approached me at a party in person in a very inebriated state and said that they (I’m being gender neutral here) had been asked by Google if they were the source. The source denied it, but was then shown an email that proved that they were the source.

The source had corresponded with me from a non Google email account, so the only way Google saw it was by accessing my Gmail account.

A little while after that my source was no longer employed by Google.

I certainly freaked out when this happened, but I never said anything about it because I didn’t want people to be afraid to share information with TechCrunch. But I became much more careful to make sure that communications with sources never occurred over services owned by the companies involved in the story.

So, yeah, the Guardian story is accurate.

Update: Google says this never happened (also in a comment below that I just approved). Some of the wording is (just slightly) odd (“opened” denial v. “accessed” accusation) but I assume that was inadvertent and they’re flatly denying this whole story.

Fail Fail Win: Never Give Up

Two 2009 tweets by WhatsApp (acquired for $16+ billion today) cofounder Brian Acton that show that even the most successful entrepreneurs need to face a little failure here and there:

1

2

Via

Jesus, Vonage, This Is Pathetic

I’m a long time Vonage user, staying loyal even as Comcast offers a better (bundled) deal for phone service. But lately they’ve been calling me non-stop with sales calls. I stopped answering at some point but they just leave voicemail messages saying I need to call them back urgently. For a sales call.

Anyway, putting aside the fact that the person talking seems supremely uninterested in what she’s saying, the quality of the calls is atrocious. I’ve noticed this before, but this message today really shows how bad the call quality is, particularly near the end.

Vonage, is this really the brand image you want? At least make sure your calls can be heard.

Listen here.

“We Just Cared More”

When I reflect on the last 10 years, one question I ask myself is: why were we the ones to build this? We were just students. We had way fewer resources than big companies. If they had focused on this problem, they could have done it.

The only answer I can think of is: we just cared more.

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s tenth anniversary, pondering the same question so many other people have asked.

Startups have a great disadvantage in resources yet consistently beat established companies in building new products that people want. This isn’t going to change.

The Disinformation

When Jessica Lessin’s The Information launched a month ago I was an enthusiastic supporter, paying the $400 yearly subscription fee right away to get access to quality tech content.

I remember blinking when I read about her joking to tech execs at the launch party that they could pay $10,000 and kill a story, thinking that it really wasn’t all that funny.

It was clearly a joke, but it wasn’t the kind of joke I would have ever made when running TechCrunch. People fawn all over tech reporters in the hope of getting good coverage or being able to squash bad coverage. A lot of reporters eat it up. Joking about being able to pay to kill a story isn’t just a joke, it’s a reminder about power relationships that often lead to bad reporting.

Anyway, I put that out of my mind almost before I finished reading it.

But now something has happened that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They have apparently altered a quote in a story about Y Combinator’s Paul Graham. In addition to altering the quote, they left out all the context of his statement, which was an answer to a question that wasn’t printed in the final post.

Graham’s blog post on the issue is here.

A quote from an “interview” with me (I’ll explain the scare quotes in a minute) went viral on the Internet recently:

We can’t make women look at the world through hacker eyes and start Facebook because they haven’t been hacking for the past 10 years.

When I saw this myself I wasn’t sure what I was even supposed to be saying. That women aren’t hackers? That they can’t be taught to be hackers? Either one seems ridiculous.

The mystery was cleared up when I got a copy of the raw transcript. Big chunks of the original conversation have been edited out, including a word from within that sentence that completely changes its meaning. What I actually said was:

We can’t make these women look at the world through hacker eyes and start Facebook because they haven’t been hacking for the past 10 years.

I.e. I’m not making a statement about women in general. I’m talking about a specific subset of them. So which women am I saying haven’t been hacking for the past 10 years? This will seem anticlimactic, but the ones who aren’t programmers.

Lessin has so far stood by her the story, saying that their editing and excerpting were for clarity.

This is, in my opinion, one of the worst sins in reporting.

And really, three sins were committed. The first was changing a quote. You just can’t do that, ever. The second was omitting contextual information which would have made the statement intelligible. And the third was taking a background discussion about Paul’s partner Jessica Livingston and turning it into an “interview” in the first place.

It’s extremely frustrating to have your words rearranged, edited and taken out of context to make it seem like you’re saying something you aren’t. It has happened to me repeatedly, to the point where I rarely even consider doing interviews any more. More often I’ll make statements in writing, but only under the condition that my entire answer be printed, not just an excerpt.

When reporters do this they’re spreading disinformation and being unethical. The result is that people don’t want to talk about anything controversial, because they know there’s a chance that they’ll be made to look like fools.

Yesterday I said I will cancel my subscription to The Information if what Paul says is true. Unless Jessica has anything further to say on this in her defense, I’ll be doing that shortly.

Update: Jessica writes about this here. My response (and I think I’m done here).

Bravo, Mark Pincus

In a meaningless meeting with President Obama, packed with large political donors from techland, one tech leader said something he wasn’t supposed to. He asked President Obama to simply pardon Edward Snowden:

A source familiar with the meeting told CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper that one of the executives, Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, which makes on-line social games, suggested to the President that he pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden, but Obama said he could not do that. The suggestion of the pardon was first reported by the Washington Post.

And sources told Tapper, anchor of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” that Obama shared with the executives that NSA reforms will be announced in January, but those invited to the meeting got the impression from the President that bulk collection from the NSA would not likely stop any time soon, but that more attempts at transparency would be made.

Bravo, Mark.

App Store Top Five: QuizUp #1, MoviePop #4

appstore

Happy to see two CrunchFund companies in the top five App Store rankings today: QuizUp at #1 and MoviePop at #4.

Both of these apps use what I’ve previously called “simulated synchronous gameplay” – it feels like you’re playing against someone in real time, but really you’re playing against a recorded game.

Both are a ton of fun. MoviePop is from the same company that makes SongPop; QuizUp has over a million downloads in its first week.

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