Reddit's Ellen Pao Resignation Announcement Is Confusing


On Friday, after a fraught two weeks, Reddit posted an announcement of Ellen Pao's resignation as CEO on its site. "Ellen Pao resigned from reddit today by mutual agreement. I'm delighted to announce that Steve Huffman, founder and the original reddit CEO, is returning as CEO," Reddit investor Sam Altman wrote. Re/code was the first to report on the switch-up, with Pao telling Re/code's Kara Swisher that she had not been fired — “They had a more aggressive view than I did [on growth]" — and that her exit was a "mutual decision."

The full announcement on Reddit, from Altman, reads:

The circumstances surrounding Pao's departure, however, can't be ignored. Although Pao was interim CEO, not the company's permanent CEO, Pao's leaving the company entirely implies that the circumstances weren't anticipated. Pao had been embroiled for much of the past year in a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit — a lawsuit Pao ultimately lost, although she insists she will appeal — and the online community had, separately, called for her resignation for months, especially after Pao cracked down on harassment with new community guidelines.

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These calls for Pao's resignation were stepped up by the abrupt firing of Reddit employee Victoria Taylor last week. No official explanation was given for Taylor's departure, and the infuriated community and moderators promptly shut down entire parts of the site.

These moderators were addressed directly in Altman's statement:

Pao has been open about her experienced being harassed online — both in the past, and in the wake of Taylor being fired. That, too, is addressed.

Perhaps the most telling part of Altman's statement concerns what the website will rush to enforce in the wake of Pao's departure.

In the interview with Re/code's Kara Swisher, Pao addressed what she planned to do next. “I am going to get some sleep," she said; Swisher writes that she is "clearly weary." Added Pao, "I have to figure it out, but I am going to take some time off.”