SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao is stepping down following days of unyielding criticism over her handling of an employee’s dismissal, and the circulation of an online petition calling for her Pao’s removal.
Moderators of the San Francisco-based link-sharing network, which touts itself as ‘the front page of the Internet,’ revolted over the firing of the person who managed the popular “Ask Me Anything” interviews, shutting down more than 250 subreddit boards.
Pao was also at the center of a gender bias lawsuit, with a San Francisco jury ruling in March that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did not discriminate or retaliate against Pao, who claimed she was fired when she complained about discrimination.
Pao was appointed interim CEO of Reddit shortly after losing the lawsuit, which she is appealing.
The online petition to remove Pao stated “A vast majority of the Reddit community believes that Pao, ‘a manipulative individual who will sue her way to the top’, has overstepped her boundaries and fears that she will run Reddit into the ground.”
Among other complaints, Reddit moderators alleged Pao failed to provide adequate tools to run the popular website smoothly.
Pao, who came on as interim CEO following the November departure of Yishan Wong amid a controversy over stolen celebrity photos, will be replaced by Reddit’s co-founder and previous CEO Steve Huffman. She told Re/code her departure was a “mutual decision” with Reddit’s board.
In a statement, Reddit board member Sam Altman said, “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.”
Altman also noted in his statement the ugliness exhibited on subreddits toward Pao. “As a closing note, it was sickening to see some of the things redditors wrote about Ellen. 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.”
Pao is expected to remain as an advisor to the board through the end of the year.