SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ellen Pao resigned as acting chief executive of Reddit Friday in the latest sign of turmoil at the site, recently roiled by the firing of a popular employee and ongoing tensions over the limits of free speech on its social-news platform.
Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman, also a co-founder of travel site Hipmunk, will become chief executive. Alexis Ohanian, another co-founder who has been working as executive chairman of reddit, will work “alongside” Huffman, said Reddit board head Sam Altman in a statement on Friday.
Controversy erupted around Reddit last week when the company’s director of talent, Victoria Taylor, was dismissed. Site volunteer moderators temporarily shut down around 300 discussion sections in protest.
That controversy did not factor into Pao’s departure, Altman said in an email.
Pao, who battled her former Silicon Valley employer in court earlier this year, said in a separate statement that she was leaving Reddit because the board had asked for higher growth than she thought was possible.
She joined Reddit in April 2013 and became its acting chief executive in November.
This year, user growth was 70 percent, she said, and mobile usage rose to 47 percent compared to 29 percent last year.
Reddit, known for freewheeling discussions, has attracted a minority group of users who engage in hate speech over racism, women’s issues, and other topics.
Under Pao, the site had tried to address the issue, banning sexually explicit images, removing a handful of discussion sections and prohibiting harassment of individuals.
“Redditors, you deserve clarity about what the content policy of reddit is going to be,” Altman said in a statement Friday. “The team will create guidelines to both preserve the integrity of reddit and to maintain reddit as the place where the most open and honest conversations with the entire world can happen.”
Pao achieved notoriety through a sex discrimination lawsuit filed against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. She lost the suit and is appealing the decision.
San Francisco-based Reddit launched in 2005 and has grown to become one of the most highly viewed sites on the Internet, drawing some 160 million unique users a month.
An October financing round of $50 million valued Reddit, in which magazine publisher Conde Nast owns a stake, at $500 million.
Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Christian Plumb