Yishan Wong has given his side of the story as to why he left his position as CEO of Reddit, a job he has held since 2012.
Writing on Quora, a company he’s an advisor to, Wong explained that he left Reddit due to a host of personal reasons. (It’s notable that he chose Quora over Reddit for his note — normally he writes corporate messages on Reddit.)
“After two and a half years, I’m basically completely worn out,” Wong said. “It was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life.”
He went on to describe the job as “incredibly stressful and draining,” saying “I probably pushed myself way too far.”
Y Combinator founder Sam Altman had stepped in as Reddit’s interim CEO for eight days, before the company appointed Ellen Pao as the new CEO.
Writing on his blog, Altman said that Wong had left Reddit due to a disagreement over the location of the company’s new office. Wong had wanted to move the company to Daly City to avoid high San Francisco rent prices, but the board opposed him.
But writing on Quora, Wong seemed to dispel the idea that the office issue was the reason for his resignation. “It’s probably something we could have worked out,” he said.
Here’s Wong’s full Quora post about his resignation:
All of the reasons that Sam has outlined in public are true. I know it sounds somewhat unbelieveable because it’s so weird, but if it was made up, I think any PR person would have come up with a better made-up story.
If there is a deeper reason, it is this:
The job as CEO of reddit is incredibly stressful and draining. After two and a half years, I’m basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life. If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far – as a first-time CEO, all I knew was that such jobs are supposed to be stressful, so I never really had a good baseline, i.e. how stressful is too stressful, until multiple outside people and coaches I was working with remarked to me that I looked incredibly worn down for months on end and it wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
On the office location issue: it’s probably something we could have worked out. I feel the board is a very supportive and friendly one, but we had a strategic disagreement wherein I felt that locating an office in San Francisco proper is an incredibly difficult thing given the strains the city is facing and the high rents it imposes on employees who wish to live close to the office. On the other hand, many of our current employees live there so the proposal to find an office location just outside the city (Daly City is immediately to the southwest outside of SF) was very unpopular, and there are plenty of startups who locate in SF and are very successful. If the job had been a energizing one rather than one that had been so draining, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue I resigned over. But it was, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to have the burden off my shoulders.
I am very optimistic about the new team! When I first took the job, I specifically asked for Alexis to be included on the board and I’m happy he’s able to make the time now to be more involved as executive chairman. I also personally hired Ellen Pao myself. She is a close friend and one of the most capable executives I’ve ever worked with, and I hope she’ll become the permanent CEO. I’m also happy that Dan McComas is returning to the Bay Area with his team from Salt Lake City (he and his wife were originally from Alameda when reddit first acquired redditgifts) to lead our new product organisation – this was a decision we’d made before my decision to resign. Finally, Sam Altman and the other investors have been very supportive this whole time even through our disagreement and I think it’s a great set of allies that reddit will have going forward.
Finally, I look forward to being able to go back to using reddit again as a regular user.
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