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Reddit CEO resigns after clashing with board over new offices

Yishan Wong leaves community-curated news site after disagreement over location and cost of new office space, the company says.

Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong. Yishan Wong/Twitter

Yishan Wong has resigned as CEO of Reddit, the community-curated message board, following a disagreement with the board of directors over new offices, the company announced Thursday.

After two and a half years at the helm, Wong resigned last week following a disagreement with the board over the location and the amount of money to spend on new offices, Reddit investor Sam Altman explained in a company blog post.

"To be clear, though, we didn't ask or suggest that he resign -- he decided to when we didn't approve the new office plan," he wrote.

Ellen Pao, Reddit's business and partnerships strategist, will serve as interim CEO, Altman said. Pao, a former junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, joined Reddit in April 2013, a year after she filed a lawsuit against the venture capital firm alleging gender discrimination.

As part of the management shuffle, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian will return to the company as its full-time chairman, responsible for marketing, communications, strategy and community.

Altman, the president of Y Combinator, the incubator that helped launch Reddit in 2005, offered more details of what he acknowledged "sounds non-credible" in a Hacker News post.

"Yishan wanted to move the office from SF to Daly City," Altman wrote. "The board pushed back but said we'd agree to it with certain data (we wanted Yishan to figure out how many employees would stay with the company through the move, get a comparison to other market rents, etc. -- all questions I think a board should ask when thinking through a major commitment)."

"This is certainly not what I was expecting to be dealing with so quickly after investing in Reddit, but we'll make the best of it," Altman said.

In a Quora post late Thursday, Wong confirmed Altman's account but added that a deeper reason for his departure from the company was the "stressful and draining" nature of the job.

After two and a half years, I'm basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life. If anything, I probably pushed myself way too far - as a first-time CEO, all I knew was that such jobs are supposed to be stressful, so I never really had a good baseline, i.e. how stressful is too stressful, until multiple outside people and coaches I was working with remarked to me that I looked incredibly worn down for months on end and it wasn't supposed to be this hard.

He went on to explain that the location issue was rooted in concerns that the increasingly challenging economic environment posed by basing a company in San Francisco would impose unnecessary strains on the company and employees.

Wong joined Reddit in March 2012 after a stint as Facebook's director of engineering. He said at the time he was shocked to learn he got the position because, though he worked at startups and managed large teams of engineers, he didn't have previous CEO experience.

Reddit closed a $50 million funding round in September led by Altman, with participation from Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. PT with Wong's statement.