Reddit keeps bleeding female talent. Following Victoria Taylor’s dismissal and Ellen Pao’s subsequent departure, reddit is now bidding adieu to yet another employee. Chief engineer Bethanye Blount is leaving the company after just two months, citing a lack of confidence in the online community’s direction as the reason for her decision.
In an interview with Re/Code, the former Facebook employee said, “I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for reddit. Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going to have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.”
Blount’s choice serves as yet another sign of reddit’s burgeoning identity crisis at a time when dissent is high both inside and outside the company. Tensions began mounting a few months ago when a petition for Ellen Pao’s firing began to circulate, and went viral after it was erroneously assumed that Pao was behind Taylor’s abrupt severance from the company (it has since come to light that this decision was made by reddit’s board). And at a time when the issue of gender discrimination in tech is becoming an increasingly hot-button issue, Blount’s bombshell announcement certainly isn’t doing reddit any favors.
Noting that she felt that Pao had been placed on a “glass cliff,” meaning that Pao’s leadership was made purposefully precarious by those who simply wanted an easy target to fire when times got tough, Blount seemed to reinforce the notion of gender bias in both her company and the industry at large. But still, she noted, “I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.”
In an email exchange with Re/Code, Steve Huffman — reddit’s co-founder, first CEO, and now interim CEO — insisted that reddit does not suffer from a gender issue. He claimed, “Bethanye’s departure had nothing to do with gender, and I was looking forward to working with her. The company is growing, and we have the opportunity to improve in many areas — including the number of women in leadership positions. I am confident in our ability to recruit women at the executive level, as we have made a point to do so at Hipmunk, where more than half of the executives are women.”
As for what Blount plans to do next, she seems finished with working for others, and will instead be starting a company of her own.