Pao is out. Huffman is in.
Reddit CEO, Ellen Pao resigned from her position on Friday. Co-founder and former CEO, Steve Huffman will replace her for the company that is reffered to as “the front page of the Internet”.
Pao’s departure from the company comes after a series of events that resulted in Reddit users pushing for her resignation.
Prior to co-founding Reddit, Pao was known for filing a lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, a very well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm. The suit was filed accusing the firm of gender discrimination and retaliation. The case shined a light on sexism in Silicon Valley as well as disrupted the ongoing male dominance in the tech industry. Unfortunately, Pao lost the case. She is currently appealing.
Reddit has now been an active community for ten years, becoming one of the most influential forums for expression, containing over 1.7 billion comments in its time. Like all open forums, comments do contain forms of bullying, racism, and misogyny. But lately, Reddit has made more of an effort to remove comments containing inappropriate and hateful content.
Pao’s decision to let go of popular employee, Victoria Taylor, was ultimately what angered Reddit users. Taylor worked connecting moderators and the company, ultimately angering users and moderators when she was dismissed. The event resulted in an online petition calling for Pao’s resignation, which received over 200,000 signatures.
Although Pao’s resignation is in close occurrence with the incident, the company assures the public that the uproar was not what caused the change in management. Reddit board member, Sam Altman, said, in an interview, that Pao did an excellent job as CEO and the resignation was a “mutual decision over a number of weeks.”
Pao apologized for the issues the company was having, telling users, “We screwed up.”
The now former CEO assured users that she and the rest of the administrators would work on improving communication and tools for moderators.
Pao says that despite the difficulties in the end of her time at Reddit, leading the company taught her to “remember the human.”
“Everybody has good and bad,” she said. “You try to encourage the good and discourage the bad.”
There was a great deal of tension between moderators (unpaid volunteers who help run the site) and the site’s administrators, regarding a lack of communication. The firing ultimately drew attention to the ongoing issue.
Huffman will now take on the challenge of maintaining an open forum while working to prevent comments that contain harassment. Tools and policies with have to be put in place to assure this is overseen efficiently.
“First, I’m super excited. Second, I am terrified,” Huffman said in a recent interview.
Huffman, who left Reddit in 2009, says he will first try to get to know the team, build tools for moderators, and make clear guidelines for what is and is not acceptable to post on Reddit.
“We give a pretty large target on what’s acceptable,” Huffman told CNNMoney. “There are only a very small number of topics that we will absolutely censor.”
Reddit is known for being an open community that has a great deal of freedom, so there is no doubt that honing down to prevent harassment will cause some controversy among users.
“It wouldn’t be Reddit if half the page wasn’t a meta discussion about Reddit,” the new CEO joked.