Reddit Names Michael Seibel to Board After Ohanian’s Exit

(Bloomberg) -- Reddit Inc. named Y Combinator Chief Executive Officer Michael Seibel to its board, honoring company co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s request that he be replaced by a black person.

One of the world’s most popular websites, Reddit is facing a backlash from its users over how it has handled racism among the myriad discussion groups it hosts. Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Steve Huffman has committed to making changes, though he has offered few details about what those reforms will look like. Last Friday, Ohanian, who is married to tennis icon Serena Williams, resigned from the board and asked that he be replaced by a black person. His request came amid widespread national protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Reddit’s board, which also includes former Conde Nast executive Bob Sauerberg, and former YC president Sam Altman, has one woman, Porter Gale, chief marketing officer at digital wealth management company Personal Capital. Ohanian offered few details about the reforms he’d like to see Reddit make when he announced his resignation.

By tapping Seibel, Reddit is turning to a Silicon Valley insider, rather than picking one of its own moderators or an expert in hate speech.

In the Reddit group called Blackfellas, a popular comment on a news item about Seibel’s selection read, “That’s cool and all, but just because he’s Black doesn’t mean he’ll see the rampant racism here as an issue.” The user linked to a tweet from Seibel in February that mused, “What do you do in the edge cases when the challenges of coordinating/securing a large population conflict with free speech rights? In government we have courts (and elections) to help. What do private companies have?”

Now as a Reddit board member he will be forced to try to find an answer to that question.

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