Yesterday, Yishan Wong, the CEO of Reddit, the San Francisco-based forum, unexpectedly resigned. He’ll be replaced by Ellen Pao, Reddit’s current business and partnerships strategist (You may remember her from this.) But what made Wong take a walk?
According to Sam Altman, the President of Y Combinator and a board member at Reddit, Wong resigned after a “disagreement with the board about a new office (location and amount of money to spend on a lease).” The board didn’t ask him to leave, but Wong nevertheless chose to leave the company.
That’s a bit of a hard explanation to swallow. It’s like getting divorced because you lost a fight over the color of the drapes.
By outside measures, Wong has been doing a strong job. In two and a half years, Reddit has quintupled its traffic, to 174 million monthly active visitors. It also recently closed a $50 million funding round from Andreessen Horowitz. But Wong has been facing turbulence for some time now. Recently (and controversially), the company started requiring that remote employees relocate to San Francisco—or face termination. Wong also got into it with a former employee on—where else?—Reddit.
In the face of continued questions, Wong posted a longer explanation of his departure on Quora. (You know Quora, right? It’s like Reddit without the users.) In it, he admitted that the real story—he wanted offices in Daly City, the rest of the board in San Francisco—seemed “somewhat unbelievable,” but he maintained its veracity, saying “if it was made up, I think any PR person would have come up with a better made-up story.” Wong, a first-time CEO, went on to attribute his departure to the larger stresses of the job. “I’m basically completely worn out,” Wong wrote, “and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life. If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far.” We're not going to lie—that's his Twitter avatar up top, and that dude looks burned out.
Well, that, and he didn’t like the brand of coffee in the break room.