Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Resigns After Receiving ‘Sickening’ Abuse From Users

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Ellen Pao is stepping down as Reddit’s CEO, a move that comes amid mounting pressure after a series of management mishaps that has angered its very vocal online community. Steve Huffman, Popular online bulletin board system and social networking site Reddit co-founder and its original CEO, is taking over immediately. Alexis Ohanian, another co-founder who has been working as executive chairman of Reddit, will work ‘alongside’ Huffman.

In an interview this afternoon, Pao said the departure was a “mutual decision” with the board, due in part to different views on growth potential. “They had a more aggressive view than I did,” she said.

Ellen Pao: Fighter of Sexism Is Out on Reddit

Pao, who recently lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, is leaving her post after being harshly criticized — and occasionally attacked — by some Reddit users who blamed her for what they viewed as poor management decisions.

According to a report in the New York Times, “The attacks were worse on Ellen because she is a woman,” said Sam Altman, a member of the Reddit board. Esha Gupta’s imacninja.com “And that’s just a shame against humanity.” More than 213,000 people signed a petition demanding Ms. Pao’s resignation. After her departure was announced, Reddit users celebrated in an over-the-top fashion. “Rejoice internet brethren,” wrote one. “The great evil has been slain.”

The reason behind Ellen Pao’s Resignation:

She joined Reddit in April 2013 and became its acting chief executive in November. This year, user growth was 70%, she said, and mobile usage rose to 47% compared to 29% last year.

Reddit, known for freewheeling discussions, has attracted a minority group of users who engage in hate speech over racism, women’s issues, and other topics.

In May, under Pao’s direction, the company also introduced changes to its harassment policy and banned five subreddit communities that were devoted to hating or criticizing fat people, transgender people, and other groups.

Controversy erupted around Reddit last week when the company’s director of talent, Victoria Taylor, was dismissed. Site volunteer moderators temporarily shut down around 300 discussion sections in protest.

Pao came under scrutiny at the San Francisco-based community forum site after an online petition that began in June called for her resignation. Users accused her of ushering in “a new age of censorship,” as the petition collected more than 213,000 signatures. The drive was preceded by the debated removal of five community forums, known as subreddits, as part of the company’s newly adopted anti-harassment policy, and the sudden firing of a well-respected key administrator.

Ellen Pao has resigned following a protest by users over the recent dismissal of a popular administrator and the introduction of changes to its harassment policy.

Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s Resignation Letter:

Pao wrote in a Resignation Letter posted on Reddit, “After more than two years at Reddit, I have resigned today,” Pao wrote in a post on the site. “In my eight months as Reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on Reddit. The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.”

“Everyone attacked Reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said.”

“So why am I leaving? Ultimately, the board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining Reddit’s core principles,” Pao wrote.