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Read Ellen Pao's goodbye letter to Reddit: 'I am just another human'

Pao couldn't balance Reddit's 'core principles' with the board's wishes

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ellen Pao is trying to end her time as interim Reddit CEO on a note of positivity. In her resignation letter, Pao says her time at the helm of one of the internet's most vibrant and influential communities has "been an adventure" since day one. "I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly," Pao said, with the latter — especially recently — causing her to "doubt humanity." "I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings." But Pao says the good has outweighed the bad by a huge margin, and she's thankful for those who rejected and pushed back against the disgusting behavior exhibited by Reddit's worst users over recent weeks.

Pao isn't leaving because of the threats, twisted words, and harassment, though. Those "trolls," as she openly calls them, are likely in the midst of a victory dance, but that's not what this really is. "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," Pao wrote. Her full letter follows below.

Emphasis added by Ellen Pao.

After more than two years at reddit, I have resigned today. My first day was April 1, 2013 (go orangered!), and every day since has been an adventure.

In my eight months as reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on reddit. The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.

I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.

What has far outshone the hate has been the positive on reddit. Thank you, kind strangers, for expressing your support. You gilded me 100 times. (For those of you who apologized for generating a wave of accusations that I gilded myself, please don’t feel bad. You did a good thing.) And thank you for sending cute animal pics and encouraging me to "Stay safe!" when the site overheated with expressions of hate in various forms. There were some days when your PMs inspired me more than you can imagine.

Most touching were the stories from regular users. Some told of people they knew who had committed suicide for being transgender or exposed in revenge porn. Others shared their experiences of being harassed and expressed empathy and gratitude. More recently, several users apologized for trolling me and for not giving me the benefit of the doubt when the troll hivemind moved against me. Initially users said they were afraid to post supportive messages openly; recently they started fighting back against the trolls publicly on reddit with support, corrections and positive messages.

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.

You will be in good hands -- our strong leadership team will now be led by u/spez, one of reddit’s original co-founders. Like u/kn0thing, he’s lived and breathed reddit since its inception and will work passionately to ensure reddit’s success.

Thank you to all the users who shared your excitement about reddit and what we’ve done and for encouraging everyone to remember the human. And thank you for making my time here at reddit an amazing learning experience.