After much controversy regarding a fired employee, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is stepping down. For the interim, Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman will take over.
Pao penned her resignation in a Reddit post with a brief explanation. “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,” she wrote.
Board member Sam Altman also addressed the announcement in a post on Reddit. Altman said that the decision was a mutual agreement between Pao and the board. He says she will continue to be an advisor to Reddit’s board for the remainder of 2015. In his post he acknowledged the community and how important they are to Reddit’s future:
“A few other points. Mods, you are what makes reddit great. The reddit team, now with Steve, wants to do more for you. You deserve better moderation tools and better communication from the admins.
Second, redditors, you deserve clarity about what the content policy of reddit is going to be. The team will create guidelines to both preserve the integrity of reddit and to maintain reddit as the place where the most open and honest conversations with the entire world can happen.”
Pao’s departure comes as the company was facing tough criticism from its community for firing director of communications and talent Victoria Taylor without telling moderators. As a result of the communication failure, moderators staged a 24-hour shut down of the Ask Me Anything forum Taylor had managed. They also started a Change.org petition asking Pao to step down. Days after the AMA blackout, Pao issued an apology.
Throughout her tenure as interim CEO Pao had friction with the Reddit community. Certain Redditors were known to have lobbed death threats and other incendiary language at the chief exec for the changes she implemented at Reddit.
This has been a rough year for Pao. In March, she lost a sexual discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and was subsequently required to reimburse the firm for roughly $276,000 in legal costs.