Ellen Pao out at Reddit a week after AMA leader Victoria Taylor ousted

The site's first chief executive, Steve Huffman, is returning to the company's helm.

Ellen Pao
Ellen Pao

SAN FRANCISCO: Ellen Pao resigned as Reddit’s interim CEO on Friday, nearly a week after many of the site’s moderators revolted after director of talent Victoria Taylor was reportedly fired.

Reddit board member Sam Altman posted to the website on Friday evening that original Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman will return to his old role. Pao will serve as an adviser to the company’s board through the end of this year.

"We are thankful for [Pao’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," Altman said in the post. "She brought a face to Reddit that changed perceptions, and is a pioneer for women in the tech industry."

Reddit also posted the announcement to its social media channels.

Altman said Reddit was planning to conduct a CEO search, but decided not to after Huffman, who he described as the site’s "benchmark candidate," agreed to take the job.

Pao’s resignation comes less than a week after Victoria Taylor, who ran the platform’s wildly popular Ask Me Anything sessions that have attracted boldface names from President Barack Obama to Harrison Ford, was reportedly fired.

As word spread that Taylor, the site’s former communications director, was fired, the site’s moderators shut down more than 250 subreddits last weekend. More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Pao to step down.

Numerous media outlets have speculated that Taylor was fired because she opposed attempts to commercialize AMA sessions. Two moderators who wrote an op-ed for The New York Times on the topic said they protested because it was the latest "tone deaf" approach by the site’s management to deal with the website’s users.

Pao apologized on Monday in a post to the site, pledging that Reddit would improve its tools, communications, and search, and keep users and moderators better informed. Kristine Fasnacht replaced Taylor in the role of moderator advocate.

Altman also scolded some Reddit users on Friday for using inappropriate language to criticize Pao or call for her dismissal.

"The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is Internet between you," he wrote. "If the Reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website, but it will never be a truly great community. [Altman’s] great challenge as CEO will be continuing the work [Pao] started to drive this forward."

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