Ellen Pao Steps Down as CEO of Reddit

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After several troubled months and a petition calling for her resignation, Ellen Pao is stepping down as the CEO of Reddit.

Pao became interim CEO in November 2014 when Yishan Wong stepped down. Steve Huffman, one of Reddit’s co-founders and the original CEO, will once again serve as chief executive, effective immediately.

According to Re/Code’s Kara Swisher, Pao’s resignation was a “mutual decision,” clarifying that she had not been fired.

The Reddit community revolted against Pao with the sudden firing of beloved Reddit AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor. Hundreds of popular subreddits were made private and inaccessible in protest. Taylor’s firing also ignited support for a month-old petition calling for Pao’s resignation to prevent the site from being “run into the ground,” gaining over 213,000 supporters, most of whom joined within recent weeks.

Earlier this year, Pao was also criticized as a “totalitarian” after censoring subreddits that centered around the harassment of certain groups of people.

Sam Altman, Reddit board member and president of Y Combinator, posted this note on Reddit about Pao’s departure as well as conducting an AMA conversation with the online community:

“Ellen Pao resigned from reddit today by mutual agreement. I’m delighted to announce that Steve Huffman, founder and the original reddit CEO, is returning as CEO.

We are thankful for Ellen’s many contributions to reddit and the technology industry generally. She brought focus to chaos, recruited a world-class team of executives, and drove growth. She brought a face to reddit that changed perceptions, and is a pioneer for women in the tech industry. She will remain as an advisor to the board through the end of 2015. I look forward to seeing the great things she does beyond that.

We’re very happy to have Steve back. Product and community are the two legs of reddit, and the board was very focused on finding a candidate who excels at both (truthfully, community is harder), which Steve does. He has the added bonus of being a founder with ten years of reddit history in his head. Steve is rejoining Alexis, who will work alongside Steve with the new title of “cofounder”.

A few other points. Mods, you are what makes reddit great. The reddit team, now with Steve, wants to do more for you. You deserve better moderation tools and better communication from the admins.

Second, redditors, you deserve clarity about what the content policy of reddit is going to be. The team will create guidelines to both preserve the integrity of reddit and to maintain reddit as the place where the most open and honest conversations with the entire world can happen.

Third, as a redditor, I’m particularly happy that Steve is so passionate about mobile. I’m very excited to use reddit more on my phone.

As a closing note, it was sickening to see some of the things redditors wrote about Ellen. [1] The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is Internet between you.

If the reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website but it will never be a truly great community. Steve’s great challenge as CEO [2] will be continuing the work Ellen started to drive this forward.

[1] Disagreements are fine. Death threats are not, are not covered under free speech, and will continue to get offending users banned.

Ellen asked me to point out that the sweeping majority of redditors didn’t do this, and many were incredibly supportive. Although the incredible power of the Internet is the amplification of voices, unfortunately sometimes those voices are hateful.

[2] We were planning to run a CEO search here and talked about how Steve (who we assumed was unavailable) was the benchmark candidate—he has exactly the combination of talent and vision we were looking for. To our delight, it turned out our hypothetical benchmark candidate is the one actually taking the job.”

 

Source: Business Insider

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