#Reddit taps Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel to replace Alexis Ohanian

#Reddit taps Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel to replace Alexis Ohanian

June 10, 2020 | 12:15pm

Reddit tapped Y Combinator boss Michael Seibel to join the company’s board Wednesday after co-founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down to make way for a black person.

The shakeup comes amid a debate over Reddit’s approach to hate speech in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the anti-racist protests that have followed.

Seibel, who is black, is the CEO of Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program, which helped Reddit launch in 2005. He also co-founded the video-sharing platforms Socialcam and, the latter of which became Amazon-owned streaming site Twitch.

“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,” Seibel said in a statement.

Ohanian announced his resignation from Reddit’s board on Friday, calling on the company to choose a black successor and pledging proceeds from his Reddit stock to “curb racial hate” following Floyd’s death.

Seibel has spoken out against police brutality and racism on Twitter in recent weeks as massive protests roiled the country. He said he gave $1,000 each to more than 70 civil-rights and advocacy groups that Y Combinator’s partners and staff are supporting.

“Every day and night the police are beating the s— out of unarmed Americans peacefully protesting,” Seibel said in a Friday tweet. “If this doesn’t stop something very bad is going to happen.”

“If policing in America doesn’t change after this – I have no idea what will make it change,” he added in another post.

Ohanian left Reddit’s board following a clash between the company’s current and former CEOs over the site’s efforts to address the hate speech and racism that flourishes in some of its forums.

Current CEO Steve Huffman, who co-founded Reddit with Ohanian, published a letter last week saying the platform does not tolerate “hate, racism, and violence.” But both Ohanian and Huffman have taken a fairly laissez-faire approach to hate speech, saying users should be allowed to air offensive views and have them corrected.

Huffman’s letter drew a pointed response from former chief Ellen K. Pao, who said Reddit “nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.” She cited the subreddit r/The_Donald, which was “quarantined” last year because of threats that users posted against police and public figures.


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