After spending the last few months turning Reddit into a virtual guillotine for its widely despised CEO Ellen Pao, it looks like redditors are finally getting their wish. Ellen Pao is officially stepping down as CEO, and Steve Huffman, co-founder and original CEO, is taking her place.
Speaking to Recode, Pao claimed that the decision to leave her role as interim CEO was a “mutual decision with the board, due in part to different views on growth potential. ‘They had a more aggressive view than I did,’ she said.”
When I asked her directly if she was fired, Pao laughed and said, “Thanks for getting right to the point,” but again underscored she resigned. Reddit board member and Y Combinator head Sam Altman answered more definitively about whether she was ousted: “No.”
The announcement was embargoed to the press (Gawker not included), but apparently, word got about the ousting as early as last night.
It looks like the Reddit news was actually embargoed for 5:15 p.m. on a summer Friday. (Look at all the pre-written stories/interviews.)July 10, 2015
The real question, though, is whether Reddit users’ vast and unwavering hatred for Pao played a role in this supposed “mutual decision.” Obviously, having a huge number of users regularly comparing the site’s CEO to a variety of genocidal dictators isn’t something that would be tolerated for long. And nearly every unpopular decision the site’s made since Pao came into power has blamed almost entirely on her alone, a phenomenon that seems to have popped up as a direct response to the her former lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins for gender discrimination.
All this despite there being very little indication that the various site-wide changes that enraged redditors (implementing anti-harassment guidelines, for one) were directly Pao’s fault. But that hasn’t stopped the site’s users from engaging in a perpetual, vicious virtual witch-hunt, which culminated in over 200,00 signatures on a Change.org petition asking for Pao’s removal. The most recent—and visible—protest on the site itself, though, was the mass revolt this past weekend, when moderators from every major subreddit temporarily turned their respective subs dark, all to protest the ousting of popular AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor.
Despite all this, neither Pao nor Y Combinator head Sam Altman would admit that the users’ tantrum contributed to Pao’s dismissal. But that hasn’t stopped the virulent, angry misogynists of the site from celebrating their newfound victory.
what a wonderful place reddit is pic.twitter.com/FTKRz9zwJCJuly 10, 2015
The top non-admin comment on Reddit's Ellen Pao resignation is from a user named "DylannStormRoof." https://t.co/QiJ3boFo68July 10, 2015
The site’s new CEO kind of sort of chided redditors for comparing Pao to Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and a literal pile of shit (among other things) telling Recode, “It’s okay for Redditers to be angry, but I thought some users crossed the line when it became personal.”
Which is, perhaps, the most depressing part of all.