Ellen Pao resigned Friday from her position as chief executive officer of Reddit, a popular social networking website, following a weeklong barrage of criticism from the site's users and moderators due to her handling of a prominent employee's termination. Reddit said Pao will be replaced immediately by Steve Huffman, one of the site's co-founders and its original CEO.
Reddit and Pao said the decision was mutual and due to a disagreement over the future of the website. In a note, Pao said "the board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining reddit’s core principles."
Pao joined the company in April 2013 and has served as its interim CEO since November. She came under fire from users earlier this month after she canned Victoria Taylor, a Reddit employee who was responsible for the company's popular "Ask Me Anything" question-and-answer posts. The firing led many of Reddit's moderators to shut parts of the site down in protest. On Monday, Pao apologized for the decision, but the criticism continued.
"In my eight months as Reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on Reddit," Pai said. "The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity."
Going forward, Reddit will be led by Huffman, who co-founded the company in 2005. Reddit said it plans to give its moderators better tools to perform their duties and will give users more clarity over the site's content policy.
"We’re very happy to have Steve back," said Reddit board member Sam Altman in a note posted Friday. "Product and community are the two legs of Reddit, and the board was very focused on finding a candidate who excels at both --truthfully, community is harder,-- which Steve does. He has the added bonus of being a founder with ten years of Reddit history in his head."
For Pao, this is a continuation of a rough 2015 thus far. Earlier this year, she came out on the losing end of a gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, a venture capital firm where she had previously worked.