Reddit CEO Quits Because He Hates New Office

[UPDATE 11/13/14 10:32 p.m. PST] Yishan Wong has gone on Quora and given his personal response below of why he left:

All of the reasons that Sam has outlined in public are true.  I know it sounds somewhat unbelieveable because it’s so weird, but if it was made up, I think any PR person would have come up with a better made-up story.

If there is a deeper reason, it is this:

The job as CEO of reddit is incredibly stressful and draining.  After two and a half years, I’m basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life.  If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far – as a first-time CEO, all I knew was that such jobs are supposed to be stressful, so I never really had a good baseline, i.e. how stressful is too stressful, until multiple outside people and coaches I was working with remarked to me that I looked incredibly worn down for months on end and it wasn’t supposed to be this hard.

On the office location issue: it’s probably something we could have worked out.  I feel the board is a very supportive and friendly one, but we had a strategic disagreement wherein I felt that locating an office in San Francisco proper is an incredibly difficult thing given the strains the city is facing and the high rents it imposes on employees who wish to live close to the office.  On the other hand, many of our current employees live there so the proposal to find an office location just outside the city (Daly City is immediately to the southwest outside of SF) was very unpopular, and there are plenty of startups who locate in SF and are very successful.  If the job had been a energizing one rather than one that had been so draining, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue I resigned over.  But it was, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to have the burden off my shoulders.

I am very optimistic about the new team! When I first took the job, I specifically asked for Alexis to be included on the board and I’m happy he’s able to make the time now to be more involved as executive chairman.  I also personally hired Ellen Pao myself.  She is a close friend and one of the most capable executives I’ve ever worked with, and I hope she’ll become the permanent CEO.  I’m also happy that Dan McComas is returning to the Bay Area with his team from Salt Lake City (he and his wife were originally from Alameda when reddit first acquired redditgifts) to lead our new product organization – this was a decision we’d made before my decision to resign.  Finally, Sam Altman and the other investors have been very supportive this whole time even through our disagreement and I think it’s a great set of allies that reddit will have going forward.

Finally, I look forward to being able to go back to using reddit again as a regular user.
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Reddit CEO Yishan Wong has resigned his position, according to a blog post by Y Combinator’s Sam Altman.

Apparently, the reason for his resignation is that he didn’t agree with plans for his new office. Altman wrote:

The reason was a disagreement with the board about a new office (location and amount of money to spend on a lease).  To be clear, though, we didn’t ask or suggest that he resign—he decided to when we didn’t approve the new office plan.

Ellen Pao, who was Wong’s second-in-command, will take over as interim CEO. Alex Ohanian, one of Reddit’s original co-founders, will return as the full-time executive chairman responsible for marketing, communications, strategy and community.

While it may sound quite petty to argue over office space, Altman told the Wall Street Journal that Wong wanted to move the company office to Daily City and “spend more money than the board was comfortable with.”

Alexis Ohanian and Sam Altman both noted their gratitude to Yishan Wong’s contributions to the company over the years.

Altman wrote:

We wish him the best and we’re thankful for the work he’s done to grow reddit more than 5x.

Ohanian wrote:

We are grateful for his contributions over the last few years, including growing reddit from 35M to 174M, and we have a team in place to ensure that reddit’s best years are still ahead of it.

Before his departure, Yishan Wong made headlines after writing an epic response to a disgruntled worker who was terminated from the company. According to the New York Times, this has made some current employees uncomfortable.

Altman and Ohanian both expressed their confidence in Ellen to the Wall Street Journal, and they expect her to become the permanent CEO. Ohanian said:

“This is technically Ellen’s job to lose.”

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