Reddit's CEO Change


Reddit has been a spiral of drama in the past few weeks. Wired gives a useful chronology of the CEO changes and other issues. Ellen Pao was hired as interim CEO in November 2014 after Yishan Wong resigned. Pao had been in the news because she was a junior investment partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and sued the firm for gender discrimination. She lost the suit, which went to trial, in March 2015. 

At Reddit, Pao was criticized for banning several subreddits (topical groups within Reddit). Although Reddit was created as a place for free speech, some of it is hateful. But users felts that Pao overstepped in closing down some sites. More than 200,000 people signed a petition calling for Pao's resignation.

In her resignation post, Pao thanked her supporters but focused on the trolls and hateful comments she had received. She asks people to consider others' humanity and writes, "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."

According to Wired,

Reddit is home to some of the most hateful content on the Internet, but at least some of it appears to be here to stay. Reddit [new] CEO Steve Huffman said during an AMA [ask me anything] on the site today that the company would ban communities that "incite harm or violence against an individual or group of people," as well as any subreddit that "harasses, bullies, or abuses an individual or group of people."

But he did call out a specific racist subreddit by name-a name so offensive that we won't repeat it here-as an example of the kind of content that would remain, though likely under a new classification-an assurance that brought cheers from the subreddit's members.

Wired also summarizes Pao's resignation:

Some have decried Ellen Pao's resignation from Reddit as a step in the wrong direction for an industry where women leaders are still a distinct minority, but the site's detractors say good riddance. Though Reddit was originally intended as a place where the ideals of free speech and the wisdom of the crowd would reign, often the crowd turned into a mob.

Discussion Starters:

  • People are so divided over Pao's resignation. What's your opinion? Was the decision best for the website? What are the consequences? 
  • How, if at all, does her Kleiner lawsuit factor into your opinion? What if she had won the case?