Reddit acting CEO quits; co-founder takes over

Ms Ellen Pao said she resigned because the Reddit board had asked for higher growth than she thought possible.
Ms Ellen Pao said she resigned because the Reddit board had asked for higher growth than she thought possible.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO • Ms Ellen Pao has resigned as acting chief executive of Reddit in the latest sign of turmoil at the site, recently roiled by the firing of a popular employee and ongoing tensions over the limits of free speech on its social news platform. Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman will become chief executive.

Mr Alexis Ohanian, another co-founder who has been working as executive chairman of Reddit, will work "alongside" Mr Huffman, said Reddit board head Sam Altman in a statement on Friday.

Controversy erupted around Reddit last week when the company's director of talent, Ms Victoria Taylor, was dismissed.

Site volunteer moderators temporarily shut down around 300 discussion sections in protest.

That controversy did not factor into Ms Pao's departure, Mr Altman said in an e-mail. Ms Pao said in a separate statement that she was leaving Reddit because the board had asked for higher growth than she thought was possible.

She joined Reddit in April 2013 and became its acting chief executive in November. This year, user growth was 70 per cent, she said, and mobile usage rose to 47 per cent compared with 29 per cent last year. Reddit, known for freewheeling discussions, has attracted a minority group of users who engage in hate speech on racism, women's issues and other topics.

Under Ms Pao, the site had tried to address the issue, banning sexually explicit images, removing a handful of discussion sections and prohibiting harassment of individuals.

She achieved notoriety through a sex discrimination lawsuit filed against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, earlier this year. She lost and is appealing against the decision.

San Francisco-based Reddit launched in 2005 and has grown to be one of the most highly viewed sites on the Internet, drawing 160 million unique users a month.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'Reddit acting CEO quits; co-founder takes over'. Print Edition | Subscribe