Reddit boss ‘set up to fail’, says former chief engineer

Ellen Pao
Former chief executive Ellen Pao was only in the post for eight months.

Troubled community website Reddit has lost another female member of its senior team with the resignation of chief engineer Bethanye Blount.

Interim chief executive Ellen Pao resigned on Friday after about 200,000 users had called for her dismissal.

Ms Blount told website Recode she believed Ms Pao had been put on a “glass cliff” – or set up to fail.

Victoria Taylor, who oversaw a popular question-and-answer section of the site, was sacked last month.

“Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was,” Bethanye Blount said in an interview.

But Ms Blount, a former Facebook employee, added that her own decision to leave Reddit just two months after joining, had not been based on gender issues.

And new chief executive, Steve Huffman, said he was “confident” that the site could recruit female executives.

The phrase “glass cliff” is used to describe women placed in leadership roles during times of crisis, when positive change is hard to achieve.

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Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian acknowledged his role in the controversial staff changes.

Ms Taylor’s departure threw the Reddit community into uproar, with moderators shutting down popular parts of the site in protest.

And Ms Pao was widely blamed for the sacking of the popular employee.

However, her predecessor, Yishan Wong, has since suggested that it had not been Ms Pao’s decision after all, blaming Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder and board member.

“Alexis wasn’t some employee reporting to Pao, he was the executive chairman of the board, ie Pao’s boss,” he wrote.

“He had different ideas for AMAs [Ask Me Anythings], he didn’t like Victoria’s role, and decided to fire her. Pao wasn’t able to do anything about it.”

Mr Wong added that he was upset that Mr Ohanian had not defended his choice while Ms Pao had been receiving online abuse branded “sickening” by board member Sam Altman as a result.

Writing separately on Reddit, Mr Ohanian, also known as kn0thing, appeared to confirm his role in the controversial upheaval.

“It was my decision to change how we work with AMAs, and the transition was my failure, and I hope we can keep moving forward from that lesson,” he wrote.

He added that Ellen Pao was “a class act”.

Fine finances

Despite the ongoing turmoil, Reddit is in good financial shape, according to Mr Huffman, also one of its co-founders.

“Reddit has a lot of cash,” he said, in an Ask Me Anything session on the site.

“Monetisation isn’t a short-term concern of ours.”

The site currently attracts 164 million monthly users.

It was bought by Conde Nast in 2006 but now operates as a spin-off enterprise of the firm’s parent company Advance Publications.

In an official blog post, Reddit described itself as a “part-sibling-once-removed” of the publishing giant.

Read more http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33520895

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