Steve Huffman, is the co-founder of Reddit and original CEO. He since moved on to become the CTO at successful travel site, Hipmunk. Just 15 days ago, he was a guest on the Reddit podcast Upvoted. Co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Huffman spent time reflecting on their 10 years of Reddit, in what was an incredibly interesting chat about the development and decisions of the site in its infancy, it’s definitely one you should listen to if you haven’t already.
They also cover the possible acquisition from Google and how they turned them down, they talked about early versions of the site, the addition of comments, working with Aaron Swartz, it really is interesting to hear the two converse, especially in the light of the fact Huffman will be returning to the CEO position at Reddit.
In terms of the problems, the Reddit revolt and subreddits going dark in protest, this week’s episode was essentially a 25 minute apology. You can hear the embarrassment and sincerity in the tone of Ohanian’s voice. Ellen Pao’s resignation was largely in response to the user and mod revolt over the very average firing of Victoria Taylor, but more broadly it was about the lack of tools for mods to control their subreddits.
A large part of the episode was spend discussing the upcoming changes and the extra investment they are now making in delivering the long discussed features for mods. The discussion on Reddit are what makes it valuable and popular and making sure those conversations are managed efficiently can determine it’s trajectory.
Episode 26 of Upvoted is another must-listen.
Here’s the resignation letter Ellen Pao posted to Reddit to announce the resignation.
After more than two years at reddit, I have resigned today. My first day was April 1, 2013 (goorangered!), and every day since has been an adventure.
In my eight months as reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on reddit. The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.
I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.
What has far outshone the hate has been the positive on reddit. Thank you, kind strangers, for expressing your support. You gilded me 100 times. (For those of you who apologized for generating a wave of accusations that I gilded myself, please don’t feel bad. You did a good thing.) And thank you for sending cute animal pics and encouraging me to “Stay safe!” when the site overheated with expressions of hate in various forms. There were some days when your PMs inspired me more than you can imagine.
Most touching were the stories from regular users. Some told of people they knew who had committed suicide for being transgender or exposed in revenge porn. Others shared their experiences of being harassed and expressed empathy and gratitude. More recently, several users apologized for trolling me and for not giving me the benefit of the doubt when the troll hivemind moved against me. Initially users said they were afraid to post supportive messages openly; recently they started fighting back against the trolls publicly on reddit with support, corrections and positive messages.
So why am I leaving? Ultimately, 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.
You will be in good hands — our strong leadership team will now be led by u/spez, one of reddit’s original co-founders. Like u/kn0thing, he’s lived and breathed reddit since its inception and will work passionately to ensure reddit’s success.
Thank you to all the users who shared your excitement about reddit and what we’ve done and for encouraging everyone to remember the human. And thank you for making my time here at reddit an amazing learning experience.
Basically Pao got a great lesson in what Reddit is. It’s easy to think if you’re a CEO of a company, that you are armed with the skills it takes to be a CEO at any company. What Pao didn’t realise, is that Reddit is unlike almost any other business. You can’t dictate to your client, like McDonalds can if they want to change their product offering.
Reddit is different and for all the bad, there’s so much good here, something we hope Huffman can control and encourage.