Social network company Reddit named venture capital investor Michael Seibel to its board, after Co-founder and Former Director Alexis Ohanian resigned and asked the company to replace him with a black candidate.
Ohanian's resignation came as the death of George Floyd in police custody triggered widespread protests against racism and police brutality, while also reigniting the debate of diversity in America's corporate boardrooms.
Seibel is also the CEO of Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley incubator of startups, whose notable early investments include Airbnb, DoorDash, Dropbox and Reddit itself in 2005.
“I want to thank Steve, Alexis, and the entire Reddit board for this opportunity. I’ve known Steve and Alexis since 2007 and have been a Reddit user ever since,” Seibel said in a statement. “Over this period of time I’ve watched Reddit become part of the core fabric of the internet and I’m excited to help provide advice and guidance as Reddit continues to grow and tackle the challenges of bringing community and belonging to a broader audience.”
Ohanian resigned from Reddit, where he was a board member but not involved in day-to-day operations, amid a broader conversation about the platform’s stance on racism and hate speech and ways to advance diversity and combat racial injustice in the tech industry. The conversation began following Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s post addressing the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing protests against police brutality and racism, in which the chief executive said the Reddit community does “not tolerate hate, racism, and violence.”
Responding to Ohanian's request, CEO Steve Huffman said "the unacceptable gap" between Reddit's content policy and values has reduced the company's effectiveness in combating hate and racism and slowed down its response to problems. Huffman acknowledged the criticism late last week in a separate note announcing Ohanian’s decision to step down. “Earlier this week, I wrote an email to our company addressing this crisis and a few ways Reddit will respond. When we shared it, many of the responses said something like, ‘How can a company that has faced racism from users on its own platform over the years credibly take such a position?’ Huffman said. “These questions, which I know are coming from a place of real pain and which I take to heart, are really a statement: There is an unacceptable gap between our beliefs as people and a company, and what you see in our content policy.”