Ellen Pao, the CEO of Reddit whose November 2014 hiring was quickly following by the shelving of the website’s short-lived Bitcoin project, resigned on Saturday. She publicly took responsibility for the management errors that ultimately sent the platform into chaos, motivating a large portion of the user base to switch to a Reddit-clone news aggregator called Voat.
Last week, more than 213,000 people signed a petition demanding Pao’s resignation. The majority of the users who signed were furious about the company’s decision to relieve Reddit administrator Victoria Taylor. Several default subreddits went private, including /r/IAmA, one of the website’s biggest subreddits, /r/movies, and more.
Pao stated in a post to Reddit’s forum last week that the management made “a long history of mistakes.” She said:
“We screwed up. Not just on July 2 [when we let Taylor go], but also over the past several years. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of Reddit.”
With the resignation of Pao, Reddit co-founder Steve Hoffman, who founded the website 10 years ago, will replace Pao as the new chief executive officer, after stepping down as the CTO of Hipmunk, a popular travel search site.
Steve Huffman announced on /r/IAmA, “I know we have a lot of work to do. One of my first priorities is to re-establish a relationship with the community. This is the first of what I expect will be many AMAs (I'm thinking I'll do these weekly).”
The Reddit team stated, “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.”
- Ellen Pao
Ryan X. Charles
Pao was appointed as CEO after Reddit secured a US$50 million funding round from Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, along with prominent angel investors Peter Thiel and Ron Conway. Almost immediately after her appointment, Reddit dismissed cryptocurrency engineer Ryan X. Charles, whom they had just hired four months earlier, and shelved his Bitcoin Reddit-decentralization project.
At the time of the funding, lead investor Sam Altman stated:
"The block chain came along and I thought, huh, this might the biggest evolution of corporate structure since the limited-liability corporation. So we don't know exactly how it will work yet, but all the investors are committed to allocating these shares to the community if we can find a way to make it work."
Soon afterward, the blockchain project was dropped. After Taylor’s dismissal, Charles went on Medium to tell more about his experiences at Reddit and express his desire to revive his project and seek support to move it toward completion.