News came out back in September that reddit was being spun off from Condé Nast (to be owned by Advanced Publications, which also owns Condé Nast) , and that it had started a search for a new CEO. That search has ended, as Yishan Wong has filled the position.
“Make no mistake, reddit owes its past, present, and future success to the community,” reddit’s Erik Martin (hueypriest) said back then. “We wouldn’t seriously consider any individuals for the CEO position unless they understood the community and were passionate about serving its needs.”
Wong has written a letter to the reddit community by way of reddit’s official blog, conveying a similar attitude.
“I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t immediately cross my mind to imagine what it would be like to do that job,” Wong says of the initial announcement. “I’d left my previous company (Facebook) over a year ago and been doing random startup consulting ever since. But my last position was only as a Director of Engineering and I didn’t have any straight-up CEO experience, despite having managed large teams of engineers and working on numerous business and startup issues. So imagine my surprise when two days later, I was contacted asking if I was interested in talking about the position.”
“At first, I didn’t really quite believe I was a serious candidate,” he continues. “It didn’t seem real, and I knew that I didn’t match the profile of what you might consider (or so I thought) a CEO candidate. I don’t have the polish and the poise and the schmoozing, and I don’t play golf. Instead, I’m an engineer and a leader of engineers and I play Starcraft (poorly). But as I continued the conversations, I came to understand that reddit wasn’t looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because reddit is not a conventional company.”
Wong says in the letter that reddit has been working with Advance Publications to complete its spin-off. Reddit has a new board, which includes co-founder Alexis Ohanian (kn0thing), and a “revamped captial structure,” which Wong says will allow the company to manage its own finances and operations.
A friend just messaged me to say he bought Reddit Gold because I became CEO. I’m helping to drive revenue already!
“This structure is so that reddit can move quickly and flexibly, have full control over its resources, and grow to meet the demands of its mission,” says Wong in the letter. “I’m not looking to step in and make ‘big, bold changes’ – I think reddit is great, and the team has a lot of good features already in the pipeline to improve functionality for users and mods, help with subreddit discovery, improve the API, and help bring reddit to more people – so the primary goal for my first few months is to listen and try to learn as much as I can about the details of the product and the community.”
So what do redditors think of new CEO?
Here’s some comments from the site:
honestbleeps: Oh yeah mr big C-level exec?? Well I’m still CEO of Reddit Enhancement Suite.. so.. NYAH!
TheeLinker: Don’t fuck it up.
KillerKittenMittens: Yishan –
You are walking along a dirt road, dehydrated and dying of hunger. You reach a fork in the road. You know very well that this dirt road can go on for hundreds of miles before any civilization is seen.
To the left, in the distance you see a mountainous area with more vegetation but rougher terrain. To the right, you don’t see too much besides some small deserty rolling hills; but beyond those hills may be a valley or a river, you just don’t know.
Do you go left or right?
Lemondoodle: I like Reddit because its new CEO just wrote a real “Hi, I’m your new CEO” letter and not some fancy corporate speak letter with fancy words arranged nicely on a screen meaning nothing of value to anyone.
Good luck with the new job!
Wong has been a “redditor” since 2005. He chose a good time to jump in as CEO. Over the course of 2011, it grew to 35 million unique visitors a month.