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Reddit co-founder resigns from board, urges black replacement

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has left the website's board of directors.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down from day-to-day work with Reddit in 2018 but had remained on its board.
(Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the link-sharing site Reddit Inc., announced his resignation from the board of directors Friday and called on the company to replace him with a black candidate.

Reddit, one of the most popular websites in the world, has long been a source of controversy. Ohanian has an on-again, off-again relationship with the company. He stepped down from day-to-day work with Reddit in 2018 but had remained on its board.

“I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now,” he wrote on Twitter. “To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop.”

In a video, he said, “I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’ So, I have resigned as a member of the Reddit board. I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate and I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate.”

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Ohanian has a 2-year-old daughter with his wife, tennis star Serena Williams.

In response to Ohanian, Reddit co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman wrote in a post that Reddit would honor Ohanian’s request to replace him with a black director. Huffman also wrote that the company would take a stronger stance against racism, though he said that Reddit is still working out the specifics of its new policy.

A pro-Trump message board on Reddit called The_Donald has been a continued source of tension. Reddit former interim Chief Executive Ellen Pao publicly criticized the company this week.

In response to a post from the company about the Black Lives Matter movement, Pao wrote on Twitter, “I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”

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A spokeswoman for Ohanian’s venture capital firm Initialized Capital declined to make him available for comment.

Ohanian also said he would pledge $1 million to Know Your Rights Camp, a nonprofit founded by Colin Kaepernick, the NFL star who has been shunned by the league for peacefully protesting for black rights.

“It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country,” Ohanian said in the video that was included in his Twitter thread on Friday.


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