It seems like the recent resignation of CEO Ellen Pao didn’t do so much to settle the dust-up at Reddit. Former CEO Yishan Wong came to Pao’s defense in a series of posts on the site — spotted by the New York Times — and levied strong accusations against Ohanian in the days leading up to Pao’s exit.
Although both Pao and Ohanian said separately that the CEO change was the result of a mutual agreement regarding company goals, the news came after an uprising on the site led to cascading complaints that the company was out of touch with its user base. The biggest charge was that Pao was a main actor in the dismissal of communications and talent director Victoria Taylor, also known as /u/chooter.
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I’m glad redditors have started to piece together all of this. Here’s the only thing you’re missing:
It travels upstream, except when it comes from the CEO’s boss.
Alexis wasn’t some employee reporting to Pao, he was the Executive Chairman of the Board, i.e. Pao’s boss. He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn’t like Victoria’s role, and decided to fire her. Pao wasn’t able to do anything about it. In this case it shouldn’t have traveled upstream to her, it came from above her.
Then when the hate-train started up against Pao, Alexis should have been out front and center saying very clearly “Ellen Pao did not make this decision, I did.” Instead, he just sat back and let her take the heat. That’s a stunning lack of leadership and an incredibly shitty thing to do.
I actually asked that he be on the board when I joined; I used to respect Alexis Ohanian. After this, not quite so much.
It saddens me to hear you say this, Yishan.
I did report to her, we didn’t handle it well, and again, I apologize.
Wong fired back:
It wasn’t “we didn’t handle it well” – Ellen actually handled things very well, and with quite a bit of grace given the prejudices arrayed against her and the situation she was put in – you didn’t handle it well. There was tremendous amounts of unnecessary damage done as a result, and we are only able to say that things might turn out ok because Huffman agreed to return and take up the mantle.
Wong’s allegations are weighty, since Pao in particular endured the brunt of the vitriol over Taylor’s departure. Ohanian spoke on his involvement in the matter:
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. Today was another step.
Unfortunately, that might be all the details Ohanian will share — he edited his initial comment to say he “can’t comment on specifics.”
➤ Details Emerge About Victoria Taylor’s Dismissal at Reddit [New York Times]
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