After months of controversy surrounding various exeuctive decisions, Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao resigned from the company on Friday. In a statement on the website by Reddit board member Sam Altman, the company expressed gratitude for Pao’s contributions:
“We are thankful for Ellen’s many contributions to reddit and the technology industry generally. 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.”
Pao, a lawyer and businesswoman who previously worked with several other tech companies and venture capital firms, inspired much controversy and vitriol from numerous Reddit users when she decided first to ban several popular subreddits dedicated to racist, sexist, and fat-shaming posts; and then to fire well-regarded employee Victoria Taylor, administrator for the site’s popular “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) subreddit where celebrities and other notable personalities field questions from users.
During her time as interim CEO, Pao was also in the midst of a high-profile trial in which she sued her former employer for gender discrimination. Her $16 million lawsuit became a rallying point in a larger, burgeoning public conversation on sexism in Silicon Valley.
Pao was hired eight months ago to replace previous CEO Yishan Wong, who stepped down amidst another bout of controversy surrounding, among other things, his public conflict with a former employee. She will be replaced by site co-founder Steve Huffman.
In her own post on Reddit, Pao reaffirmed the sentiment behind both her closing of the aforementioned subreddits and her reaction to vitriol on the site following both unpopular decisions:
“I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.”