Reddit chief executive Ellen Pao has stepped down following overwhelming calls from the site’s users for her resignation in the wake of the sacking of one of the company’s most popular employees.
Pao had come under heavy criticism from Reddit users after the director of talent, Victoria Taylor, was fired last week. Taylor was responsible for the site’s hugely popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) Q&A discussions and following her dismissal a petition from users demanding Pao’s removal was created and signed by over 210,000 users in less than a week. The situation also led to Pao reportedly receiving death threats from users angry at her handling of the situation.
Her exit, just eight months into her role as interim CEO, means she will be replaced by the site’s co-founder Steve Huffman however she is expected to remain as an advisor to the board for the remainder of 2015. The exit was announced in a statement from Reddit in which the company said that the decision was by “mutual agreement”.
In her statement Pao wrote that she was leaving the company because 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 was quick to condemn users who had threatened her and in the statement reminded them that she was “just another human; I have family, and I have feelings”. She added that “everyone attacked on Reddit is just another person like you and me”.
Board member Sam Altman backed up the comments in the announcement, saying tha it was “sickening to see some of the things” that the site’s users had written about Pao. He said: “If the Reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website but it will never be a truly great community."
The relationship between Pao and Reddit began to deteriorate when the site began introducing measures which did not seem in keeping with the sites ethos such as the anti-harassment drive in May this year and rumours of a number of highly commercial initiatives being implemented into the site around the AMA forums which Taylor was in charge.
Tension culminated in the sacking of Taylor which led to moderators shutting down some of the most popular forms on the site in protest.