An online petition has reached over 150,000 signatures (opens in new tab), asking for interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao to step down. It comes after a community backlash against Pao’s decisions, removing a key staff member from the company.
Last week, over 200 subreddits—places where Redditors congregate to discuss a certain topic—went private in response to Victoria, the Head of Talent at Reddit, getting fired from her position (opens in new tab).
Moderators of subreddits like iAmA, AskReddit and science claimed without Victoria, they had no internal way to verify identity and ensure there was no backdoor deals between Reddit and the AMA poster.
The reason for the removal was unknown, but Reddit moderators speculated that Pao had removed Victoria due to a conflict of interest on new AMA features. Upvoted comments on discussion threads seem to suggest Reddit is planning some type of monetisation of AMA posts, which involve a celebrity, public figure or group answering questions from the community.
Another Reddit admin, responsible for the creation of Reddit Gifts, was also fired in the same week. This might mean Reddit is planning multiple monetisation routes, using the backbone of the community as its revenue wheel.
Even though the petition continues to grow daily, surging from 20,000 to 150,000 in under a week, Pao remains convinced this effects a small part of Reddit. That may be true, but the growing amount of top posts on the forum suggests a large majority of Reddit are aware of the internal issues and not happy with the way Reddit is heading.
Reddit received Series B funding on September 2014 for $50 million (£32 million) with a $250 million (£160 million) valuation, the first funding round since the $100 million (£64 million) seed funding in 2005. This suggests Reddit is investing heavily to make the company profitable, something it has been unable to achieve since launch.
Reddit might also be facing pressure from its owner Condé Nast, the media conglomerate in charge of Vanity Fair, Vogue, WIRED, GQ and a few other high-profile news companies.
Whatever the case, it is clear Reddit is changing the way it monetises content, clearly unhappy with the current Reddit gold and small banner advertising initiatives.