Ellen Pao has left Reddit after a tumultuous month, but the outgoing CEO may have a nice parting gift after departing amid controversy.
Pao offered her resignation on Friday, leaving her post as interim CEO after a month in which she came under increasing fire from members. Already a target for banning the popular, but controversial board, FatPeopleHate, Pao drew even more criticism last week when the site fired employee Victoria Taylor, the driving force behind the popular Ask Me Anything series that saw participants that included President Obama.
Though Reddit management never said if firing Taylor was Pao’s decision, she became the target of protest. Angry users filled Reddit’s front page with protests and drew more than 200,000 signatures to a Change.org petition calling for her ouster.
Though Pao decided to leave Reddit one week later, she may not be leaving empty handed. Mike Vorhaus, president of the strategy consulting firm Magid Advisors, said he believes Pao will be getting a handsome settlement from the site.
“I think when this went from a one day story to a three day story, they decided they had to end the story,” Vorhaus told the Los Angeles Times. “You give Ms. Pao what I’m sure is a very good settlement and you say goodbye.”
Many users would likely be upset to know that the unpopular Pao was handed money to walk away, but it would not be the first time she has accepted a controversial settlement. Earlier this year it was revealed that she accepted a $200,000 severance package from former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, money she accepted after suing the firm for $16 million claiming gender discrimination.
Pao continued her lawsuit even after the settlement.
“You knew you could accept all these benefits and continue to sue the heck out of KPCB?” Kleiner’s attorney, Lynne Hermle, asked Pao on the witness stand.
“I knew I could continue my litigation,” Pao answered.
Vorhaus said the discrimination lawsuit made her an immediate target at Reddit.
“It’s really hard to run a community like Reddit,” Vorhaus said. “It’s like being the mayor of a town of 1,000 people where every one comes to the town hall meetings. You’re under more of a microscope when you’re the CEO of a community-based site than an advertising tech company.”
Pao noted that she was leaving because her vision for the site did not match the board’s.
“So why am I leaving? Ultimately, the board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining reddit’s core principles,” she said in a message posted Friday.
While Ellen Pao may be out of her post as interim CEO, she is not gone from Reddit entirely. In her goodbye message to users, Pao said she will be staying on as an adviser through the end of the year.
[Image via Getty Images]