Washington, DC -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation has fired its Executive Director Drew Taubman. This is the second time in the past year that the embattled organization has lopped off its head.
Taubman says he and the EFF board "couldn't find common ground." He insists the firing was along amicable grounds: "I wasn't drummed out of the corps... this wasn't a Berman thing," he said, referring to the organization's former executive director Jerry Berman who also was fired last year. Berman landed on his feet, forming his own advocacy group, the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Taubman insists that from the beginning he and the EFF board "were fully aware that it might not work out." The situation is "unfortunate," he said. "I think EFF is going through some tough times right now."
After a life as a professional administrator in the non-profit sector, Taubman said he takes such unceremonial dumping in stride. He claims the turn-over rate among top level directors of non-profits is as high as 50 percent annually.
Asked why he couldn't reach common ground with the board, Taubman refused to answer: "That's private business."
That answer is puzzling, especially in light of Taubman's claim earlier this year that he intended to help move the organization back to its grassroots beginnings and away from being a major policy player among the Washington heavy-hitters. It was a position that the board welcomed.
And in fact, there was no policy difference or nefarious crisis that lead to Taubman's ousting. According to several EFF sources, including board members, Taubman simply didn't have the horsepower to drive the organization.
During his short tenure, Taubman had failed to deliver any significant amount of funding to the organization. His leadership, on several fronts, wasn't up to par, according to EFF sources.
Rather than see their organization languish as it tried to regain its footing and stature as a cyberspace populist advocate, the board members chose to cut their losses. And so, during the recent the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference held earlier this year, they voted remove Taubman as executive director.
How then was Taubman tapped for the leadership spot in the first place? The nationwide hunt for a new exec apparently turned up a "shallow pool" of talent from which to draw, according to one source; the board choose the best from the applicants it had to work with.
For his part, Taubman remains upbeat. He still has an office and voice mail at EFF's Washington office and "I'm still on good terms with the board," he said. No board member said otherwise. "We just saw the world differently," he said.