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Reddit, the online comment and aggregation site that boasts 175 million users, yesterday announced that CEO Yishan Wong had resigned due to a disagreement over new office space. He will be succeeded on an interim basis by business development head (and former VC) Ellen Pao, while co-founder Alexis Ohanian will return as full-time executive chairman.
I spent some time on the phone with Pao and Ohanian, and learned the following:
Pao may not be interim CEO for long: Reddit is not currently looking for a permanent replacement for Yishan Wong, because the hope is that Pao can prove herself worthy of the role. “Speaking as a board member and the executive chairman, I’m hopeful this is not an interim position,” Ohanian said.
Yes, it was really about an office: No doubt, it’s extremely strange that the CEO of a half-billion dollar company resigned because of a disagreement over where to park his desk. Particularly given that Reddit is only looking to move from one building in San Francisco to… another building in San Francisco. Moreover, Wong is the CEO who told Reddit employees in cities like New York and Salt Lake City that they must relocate to San Francisco by year-end or find other work. But both Pao and Ohanian insist that office space was the straw that broke Wong’s employment. “To add one layer, he genuinely did want to spend more time with his family, but you’d probably consider that to be an even less satisfying answer,” Ohanian said.
Community chest: Upon raising $50 million in VC funding back in September, Reddit announced that it planned to allocate around 10% of its shares to members of the Reddit community. That’s still the goal — and actually something Ohanian first proposed to company lawyers when Reddit spun out of Condé Nast in 2011 — but the company is still working out specifics. Sounds like Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency could be used (no doubt making members of r/bitcoin quite giddy).
Culture club: Pao says that, upon joining Reddit last year, the thing that surprised her most was the “depth of connections” people make on Reddit, particularly people who don’t share geography, ethnicity or other normally-bonding demographics. She says that her initial goal is to help blend the corporate culture as out-of-town Reddit employees move to San Francisco, and then continue to ship new products like RedditMade (custom products made by users) and RedditGifts (a giant online Secret Santa program).
Elephant in the room: I didn't speak to Pao about her pending gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, which is scheduled for a jury trial beginning on February 17. But her promotion to the CEO spot of a popular company backed by such Sand Hill firms as Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital certainly adds an interesting new wrinkle to the case.
Job responsibilities: Pao says that, in the wake of Wong’s resignation, bringing Ohanian back was a primary concern because he is the “voice of Reddit.” But he’s also the animator of Reddit, explaining that he originally drew the company’s iconic alien, and is the “final arbiter” of how it is drawn in future iterations.
• Data point: Thomson Reuters reports that global financial sector M&A now totals $287 billion for the year, up from 49% over year-to-date 2013.
• Update: More than a year ago, I wrote a column about how the U.S. Department of Energy's "green" loan program was likely to produce an investment profit, despite highly-publicized losses on such companies as Solyndra. In other words, it wasn't the boondoggle that certain politicians insisted it was.
Now I don't like to say I told you so... Strike that. Actually, I love to (yes, it's a character flaw). So, in that spirit, the DoE yesterday disclosed new data showing that the U.S. government ultimately expects to earn more than $5 billion of interest on the loans -- and that current loan interest already outstrips baked-in losses. Moreover, 20 of the projects already are generating revenue, thus beginning to repay the loan principal.
• Have a great weekend... Go Pats!
Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share iconsReddit, the online comment and aggregation site that boasts 175 million users, yesterday announced that CEO Yishan Wong had resigned due to a disagreement over new office space. He will be succeeded on an interim basis by business development head (and former VC) Ellen Pao, while co-founder Alexis Ohanian will return as full-time executive chairman.I spent some time on the phone with Pao […]