Ellen Pao is stepping down as CEO of Reddit.
Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder and original CEO, of the networking site is taking over the site immediately.
Pao told Re/Code‘s Kara Swisher that it was “mutual decision” and that she had “not” been fired. Pao took over the job as CEO after Yishan Wong stepped down in November.
Pao has been under intense scrutiny by the Reddit community during her tenure as interim CEO.
Last week, Reddit moderators shut down many parts of the site in protest of how Pao and Reddit’s management handled the dismissal of former director of talent, Victoria Taylor. More than 213,000 people signed a petition to fire her, and Pao later apologised to the community for how the site has communicated with its supporters.
That wasn’t the first time Pao was the target of Reddit’s wrath.
Pao also invoked the fury of redditors in May when the company decided to change its harassment policy. Under the new policy, Reddit banned five communities devoted to hating or criticising fat people, transgender people, and other groups. Again, the backlash was swift in the community as many interpreted the ban of the subreddits as an attack on users free speech and a sign that the company was going to start banning content it found morally objectionable.
This is the second major loss to Pao this year. The former venture capitalist lost all counts of her case against the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on March 27 when a jury found that her gender was not the motivating reason for her not being promoted to a general or senior partner, or for her termination.
Ellen Pao resigned from reddit today by mutual agreement. I’m delighted to announce that Steve Huffman, founder and the original reddit CEO, is returning as CEO.
We are thankful for Ellen’s many contributions to reddit and the technology industry generally. She brought focus to chaos, recruited a world-class team of executives, and drove growth. She brought a face to reddit that changed perceptions, and is a pioneer for women in the tech industry. She will remain as an advisor to the board through the end of 2015. I look forward to seeing the great things she does beyond that.
We’re very happy to have Steve back. Product and community are the two legs of reddit, and the board was very focused on finding a candidate who excels at both (truthfully, community is harder), which Steve does. He has the added bonus of being a founder with ten years of reddit history in his head. Steve is rejoining Alexis, who will work alongside Steve with the new title of “cofounder”.
A few other points. Mods, you are what makes reddit great. The reddit team, now with Steve, wants to do more for you. You deserve better moderation tools and better communication from the admins.
Second, redditors, you deserve clarity about what the content policy of reddit is going to be. 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.
Third, as a redditor, I’m particularly happy that Steve is so passionate about mobile. I’m very excited to use reddit more on my phone.
As a closing note, it was sickening to see some of the things redditors wrote about Ellen.  The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is Internet between you.
If the reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website but it will never be a truly great community. Steve’s great challenge as CEO  will be continuing the work Ellen started to drive this forward.
 Disagreements are fine. Death threats are not, are not covered under free speech, and will continue to get offending users banned.
Ellen asked me to point out that the sweeping majority of redditors didn’t do this, and many were incredibly supportive. Although the incredible power of the Internet is the amplification of voices, unfortunately sometimes those voices are hateful.
 We were planning to run a CEO search here and talked about how Steve (who we assumed was unavailable) was the benchmark candidate — he has exactly the combination of talent and vision we were looking for. To our delight, it turned out our hypothetical benchmark candidate is the one actually taking the job.
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