Reddit chief Ellen Pao resigns amid vitriol, protests

Pao leaves after the company's firing of a key employee sparked a user revolt

Reddit's logo

Reddit's logo

Ellen Pao is resigning as Reddit's interim chief executive after a week of tumult on the online message board with many users calling for her ouster.

Pao is resigning under a mutual agreement with Reddit's board, the company announced. She will be succeeded by Steve Huffman , Reddit's co-founder and original chief executive, who will work alongside Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Pao leaves the company after a storm of furor from users after Reddit's termination of Victoria Taylor, a key employee who helped facilitate Reddit's popular Ask Me Anything sessions.

Late last week, some areas of Reddit's sites known as subreddits, where users post messages in a common thread, were made inaccessible to most users, ostensibly by site moderators who were angry about Taylor's firing. Pao subsequently apologized, acknowledging broader missteps and a lack of responsiveness to concerns from users.

But that didn't stop a petition calling for Pao to be removed as chief executive from gathering more than 200,000 signatures earlier this week.

Reddit claims to have more than 160 million users who visit its site monthly. Many of its tools and message boards are controlled by volunteer moderators.

Pao exits Reddit as the site faces existential questions over its future as a platform for free discussion on the Internet. While the site has traditionally been known for the freewheeling nature of users' posts, in recent months the company has made moves to restrict certain types of speech, including harassment.

It made those moves to better balance free expression with privacy and safety, but some users have criticized the changes.

In March, Pao lost a sex discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in a case that shone a much-needed spotlight on discrimination and lack of diversity in the technology industry.

She will remain as an advisor to the Reddit board through the end of the year.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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