Ex-Reddit CEO Says He Resigned Because 'It Wasn't Supposed to Be This Hard.' Hmmm.
The past week was a tumultuous one for Reddit; Yishan Wong, the networking and news site's CEO, resigned; Sam Altman, president of the tech incubator Y Combinator (where Reddit got its start) briefly stepped into the role, before Ellen Pao, the company's former head of business and partnerships, was installed as interim CEO. Oh, and also: Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian announced he is rejoining the company full time, as its executive chairman.
So…a lot of stuff, involving a lot of the company's major players, just went down. And many of these players are publicly commenting on the situation.
Why, for example, did Wong abruptly resign? In a blog post, Altman cites a disagreement between Wong and the company's board over the location and price of a new office (Wong wanted to move Reddit's headquarters to the relatively cheap Daly City, Calif., while the board wanted to remain in pricier San Francisco, where many Reddit employees live). "To be clear, though, we didn’t ask or suggest that he resign—he decided to when we didn’t approve the new office plan," Altman writes.
Wong, in a post of his own on Quora, concedes that while the dispute over office space was an issue, it was probably one that could have been resolved. Instead, he says he threw in the towel because he was utterly exhausted, writing:
The job as CEO of reddit is incredibly stressful and draining. After two and a half years, I’m basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life. If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far – as a first-time CEO, all I knew was that such jobs are supposed to be stressful, so I never really had a good baseline, i.e. how stressful is too stressful, until multiple outside people and coaches I was working with remarked to me that I looked incredibly worn down for months on end and it wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
In the post, Wong attempts to squash any rumors of bad blood between himself and Reddit's board and executives." I am very optimistic about the new team!" he writes, noting that he personally hired Pao: "She is a close friend and one of the most capable executives I’ve ever worked with, and I hope she’ll become the permanent CEO."
Pao's promotion comes at what could be a turning point Reddit. The company just raised $50 million in funding, and is attempting to mature while navigating a rocky, scandal-ridden terrain. Wong, for instance, came under fire for his clumsy, delayed response to users sharing leaked, nude celebrity photos from the iCloud hack, just one instance in which Reddit's subset of misogynistic users subtracted from the site's legitimacy as a viable business.
As Slate notes, perhaps it's a good thing a woman executive is talking the reins at such a pivotal time, especially one acutely attuned to sexism in real life (in 2011, she sued her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination; the suit has yet to go to trial.
According to Ohanian, Pao will likely remain the company's permanent CEO. “Speaking as a board member and the executive chairman, I’m hopeful this is not an interim position,” he told Fortune.