OkCupid Revisited

In scene reminiscent of Steve Jobs’ dismissal from Apple at the behest of John Sculley, Brendan Eich lost his job as CEO of the Mozilla Corporation a few weeks ago over a political donation made roughly six years prior in support of California’s Proposition 8. A bill that sought to ban gay marriage in the state, it’s easy to see why Eich took such flack for that move in today’s hyper-sensitive political landscape permeated by the rantings of faux-political activists. Although a federal court ultimately struck it down as unconstitutional, the fact that his donation ultimately had no lasting effect mattered not to nearly everyone that weighed in on the controversy, and least of all to Sam Yagan. CEO of OkCupid, Sam Yagan played a key role in Eich’s ultimate impeachment by acting as one of Eich’s loudest opponents.

Then, as if taken directly from a comedic sketch, in a fantastically ironic turn of events last week, it came to light that Sam Yagan did the same thing a decade ago: in 2004, Yagan made a $500 donation in support of Congressman Chris Cannon despite his reputation for acting in direct opposition of anything to do with homosexuals. In fact, I would make the case that Yagan’s donation was actually more damaging than Eich’s given that whereas Proposition 8 had a single, explicit purpose, politicians can lobby for any cause they set their minds to. What’s more, whereas the judicial system can rule ballot initiatives unconstitutional, the process is much less clear-cut when it comes to the whims of politicians. Nevertheless, more than a week after that information surfaced, nothing has changed: Eich remains jobless, Yagan remains OkCupid’s CEO, and this entire debacle has nearly faded from the public’s eye.

Almost.

In a lengthy Twitter exchange after I published my take on the news of Yagan’s hypocrisy that sort of went in circles until Linus Edwards brought me back on track some six hours later, I attempted to explain why I feel Sam Yagan ought to lose his job just as Brendan Eich did. In an effort at introducing some clarity to a conversation that otherwise had little, let me briefly explain myself once again: I care little for what Eich did six years ago, and just as little for what Yagan did a decade back. Further, I do not agree with the argument that we ought to hold these individuals accountable in a professional capacity for the choices they made in a personal one. Thus, regardless of what cause Eich lobbied for and donated to, so long as that does not influence his innate ability to lead, I do not believe anyone should have the right to lobby for his dismissal, and the same goes for Yagan; however, Yagan does not believe in the same principles I do. Instead, he believes in holding others accountable for their actions made years prior; he believes in public shaming; and be believes in advocating for others’ removal from their jobs based on a combination of the two. In calling for Yagan’s dismissal, I merely ask that the same standard he so vociferously put forth prior to Eich’s resignation be applied to himself as well. He believed in this methodology to such an extent so as to cost a man his career; why not judge himself by the same metric? Yet he has not, and to me, that double standard is completely unacceptable.

Not surprising in the least, but nevertheless completely unacceptable.