Today in a joint announcement, reddit and Interim CEO Ellen Pao announced that she was officially stepping down from her role. Reddit’s co-founder and original CEO, Steve Huffman, will return to his original position. Alexis Ohanian will remain on the board and retain his co-founder title.
“We are thankful for Ellen’s many contributions to reddit and the technology industry generally,” stated Sam Altman, CEO Board Member and President of Y Combinator. “She brought focus to chaos, recruited a world-class team of executives, and drove growth. She brought a face to reddit that changed perceptions, and is a pioneer for women in the tech industry. She will remain as an advisor to the board through the end of 2015. I look forward to seeing the great things she does beyond that.”
According to Pao, the official reason for her resignation (note: not fired) was due to misaligned goals between her and the board. “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,” stated Pao.
As Huffman transitions into his new role, he will be leaving behind his position as CTO of Hipmunk, a growing travel site that he co-founded with Adam Goldstein in 2010. Pao will remain an advisor through the end of the year. Until now it was also unclear how reddit’s board was going to, if ever, identify a permanent CEO to fill Pao’s shoes.
“We were planning to run a CEO search here and talked about how Steve (who we assumed was unavailable) was the benchmark candidate—he has exactly the combination of talent and vision we were looking for,” stated Altman. “To our delight, it turned out our hypothetical benchmark candidate is the one actually taking the job.” Further, Altman also clarified how Pao came to be the Interim CEO, “The previous CEO resigned on the spot. Ellen said she would do the interim work, and I am very thankful she did. She walked into an incredibly difficult situation and move the ball a good bit down the field for reddit.”
Earlier this week we reported on the growing user backlash that resulted in more than 213,000 people signing a petition for Pao to step down. When asked if this impacted Pao’s resignation, Altman simply replied with a no. He went on to also reflect on the treatment of Pao, “As a closing note, 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.”
And to wrap things up Pao opened up to questions from users, leaving on a positive note by taking a jab at Ohanian.