Alexis Ohanian Just Explained Why He Resigned From Reddit’s Board

Ohanian, a Reddit cofounder, is urging that a black candidate fill his vacated seat on the social media platform’s board.

Written by Ellen Glover
Published on Jun. 09, 2020
Alexis Ohanian Just Explained Why He Resigned From Reddit’s Board
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has resigned from the company's board and urges that his seat be filled with a black candidate
Alexis Ohanian with His wife, Serena Williams. Ohanian says his Decision was Inspired By Williams and Their Daughter Olympia. | Photo: Shutterstock

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian shocked many in the tech world on Friday when he took to Twitter to announce he would be resigning from the company’s board, requesting his seat be filled with a black candidate. Over the weekend, Ohanian discussed his decision further with his wife, tennis champion Serena Williams, on her live Instagram show Serena Saturdays.

“I wanted to put as much weight behind the gesture as I could because I felt I owed it to you and I owed it to her,” Ohanian told Williams, referring to their two-year-old daughter Olympia. “I thought about what I could do beyond a social media post, beyond a donation. We need diversity in the highest levels of business now more than ever. Once I realized why I needed to do it, it became very easy.”

RelatedReddit Adds Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel to Board of Directors

The millionaire entrepreneur also said he would be using his future gains in Reddit stock to “serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate,” beginning with a $1 million pledge to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.

Ohanian’s decision comes amid many publicly released statements from companies in Silicon Valley and beyond expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. However, Sharon Chuter, CEO of UOMA Beauty, is arguing that many of these statements don't go far enough. She launched the #PullUporShutUp campaign, calling on companies to release the number of black employees they have in leadership roles and for consumers to hold off spending money with them until they do.

“To at this point still be absolving yourself of the role that you have played and continue to play in the marginalization and oppression of black people, shows that a lot of these efforts may just be PR stunts,” Chuter said in an Instagram post, continuing on to cite several statistics depicting the stark economic divide between white and black Americans. “These corporations, who are the gatekeepers of jobs, have starved us for the longest time. They’ve pushed us out, they’ve oppressed us and they’ve marginalized us by doing nothing and staying silent, which is exactly what is happening even in this moment when they are telling their followers and their consumers to look at themselves and how they have contributed to this problem. Yet, they remain silent on what really matters.”

While Ohanian did not explicitly object to the way Reddit is run, his push for more diversity in the company’s leadership aligns with a longstanding debate over the platform’s reticence to take action against white nationalist subreddits.

In an open letter published Friday, CEO Steven Huffman cited the many actions the company has taken against these groups and said Reddit is exploring other short- and long-term solutions to curbing hate on the platform, including an updated content policy that provides a “vision for Reddit and its communities to aspire to, a statement on hate, the context for the rules and a principle that Reddit isn’t to be used as a weapon.” Huffman also said the company will honor Ohanian’s request to bring on a black board member in his place.

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