Ellen Pao steps down from Reddit after a week filled with turmoil

Ellen Pao Steps Down as Interim CEO of Reddit

Ellen Pao Steps Down as Interim CEO of Reddit

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 10 2015 6:51 PM

Ellen Pao Steps Down as Interim CEO of Reddit

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Ellen Pao's tenure leading Reddit is over.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Reddit has plenty of problems, but if you asked its users, many would point the finger at one of its executives: Ellen Pao. They’ll have one less thing to complain after today. Pao has officially stepped down from her position as interim CEO, a job she has occupied since November 2014, Bloomberg reports. One of the site’s co-founders, Steve Huffman, will take her place.

If you know anything about Reddit, you likely know that it’s been in a state of turmoil for much of the past week, thanks in part to the controversial firing of director of talent Victoria Taylor. Pao, who had never been popular among the site’s frequently cantankerous user base, took much of the heat for this incident. On Monday, she posted a public apology to the site, writing, “We screwed up,” not just with Taylor, “but also over the past several years,” referring to the support Reddit gives the volunteers who manage its subreddits. Many of the site’s users remained unconvinced, continuing to denounce her in the comments below her post.

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Pao was recently at the center of a heavily watched sexual discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers. In March, the jury in that case found in Kleiner’s favor.

Discussing her exit from Reddit on the site on Friday evening, company board member Sam Altman claimed that Pao’s departure had come about “by mutual agreement.” He praised Pao for bringing “focus to the chaos,” but also wrote that the site’s moderators—who, as Slate’s David Auerbach argues, ignited the revolt over longstanding grievances—“are what makes [R]eddit great.”

According to Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomber, Altman suggested in a separate interview that Pao’s departure was unrelated to Taylor and the subsequent events, explaining that it been planned “over a number of weeks.” On Reddit itself, however, Altman made clear that he was aggrieved by the way the site’s users had treated Pao. “As a closing note,” he wrote, “it was sickening to see some of the things redditors wrote about Ellen. 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.”

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