Serena Williams’ Reddit co-founder husband Alexis Ohanian has resigned from the company’s board because he is a ‘father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?”
The tech founder, who shares two-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. with his tennis star wife, made the shock announcement in a video uploaded to his Instagram page around midday Friday.
In the footage, he says he is stepping down ‘for me, for my family, and for my country’ so that his seat on the board can be filled by a black candidate and so he can focus on helping to ‘curb racial hate’.
The move comes after the company faced a backlash this week when it sent an open letter to staff addressing the Black Lives Matter protests.
Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao blasted the company saying it ‘monetizes white supremacy’ while two of its biggest subreddits staged a blackout and called for leadership to stand down if they don’t tackle ‘bigotry’ on the platform.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has resigned from the company’s board because he is a ‘father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?”
‘Fifteen years ago I cofounded Reddit as a place for people to find community and a sense of belonging,’ Ohanian says in the video shared Friday.
‘It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country.’
Ohanian continues: ‘I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’
He says he hopes the company will hire a black person to replace him on the board and pledges to use his future gains on Reddit stock to ‘serve the black community’.
‘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, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Right’s campaign,’ he says.
‘I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop.’
Williams shared the post on her own social media accounts saying she is ‘proud’ of her husband.
‘So proud of your commitment to not just me but to “us”,’ she wrote on Twitter alongside a retweet of her husband’s post.
In another Tweet she wrote: ‘Having diverse views on any boards is important. So proud of you Alexis. I know Olympia will be too.’
Ohanian made the shock announcement in a video uploaded to his Instagram page around midday Friday
The shock news comes just days after Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao slammed the company when it published an open letter to staff condemning racism, following the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white cop in Minneapolis last week.
Pao laid in to the tech company in a Twitter post Tuesday saying the company ‘nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long’.
‘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,’ wrote Pao, who was interim CEO between late 2014 and mid-2015.
‘You don’t get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.’
The tech founder and investor is married to tennis star Serena Williams and they have a two-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. (pictured together here)
Williams shared the post on her own social media accounts saying she is ‘so proud of your commitment to not just me but to “us”’
Her outrage came in response to co-founder and current CEO Steve Huffman, known on the platform as /u/spez, sending a letter to staff Monday in response to Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests across America that are calling for an end to police brutality and racism against African-Americans.
‘We do not tolerate hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear,’ Huffman wrote in the letter also shared on social media.
Ohanian with daughter Alexis Olympia. He said he is stepping down ‘for me, for my family, and for my country’ so that his seat on the board can be filled by a black candidate
Williams with Alexis Olympia. The tennis star has not yet commented publicly on the news
Reddit also faced a backlash from two of its biggest subreddits, as many companies are coming under fire for appearing to jump on the bandwagon of slamming racism while taking zero action in their firms to root out the issue.
The NFL and NBA subreddits both blasted the tech firm’s response and participated in a 24 hour blackout in participation with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Anyone navigating to the sites came up against a message calling on Reddit leadership to resign if they cannot tackle hatred on the platform.
‘Reddit has harbored racists as policy for years /u/spez. It has led to battling racism constantly, increased by the kneeling that encompassed Black Lives Matter’s message,’ read the message on NFL subreddit.
The shock news comes just days after Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao slammed the company for ‘amplifying’ hate and racism
Her anger came in response to current CEO Steve Huffman, known on the platform as /u/spez, sending a letter to staff Monday in response to Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests across America
The site then issued a number of requests to Reddit leadership including a policy against bigotry, a way to report subreddits based on their content, and ‘deplatforming heavy participants in hate subreddits through their main account and alts’.
It added that if the requests are not met, then they call for the resignation of the company’s leadership.
A similar message was shared by the NBA subreddit.
The two subreddits make up some of the largest Reddit communities.
Reddit has long come under fire for hosting racist forums on its platform, and has been forced to shut down several subreddits over the years.
‘the_donald,’ which Pao referred to in her tweet has existed on the site since Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2015 and is well-known for housing racist and misogynistic content.
Reddit decided to ‘quarantine’ the subreddit in June 2019 meaning users have to opt in to view its content, which it said many would find ‘highly offensive or upsetting’ but the subreddit continues to remain active.
Ohanian co-founded Reddit, the discussion website and network of communities, with Huffman back in 2005.
They sold it publishing house Condé Nast in 2006 for between $10 million and $20 million.
It is now one of the biggest websites in the world.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF REDDIT
2005 – Reddit was founded by college roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in June 2005. It later merges with Aaron Swartz’s company Infogami under the new name Not a Bug.
2006 – Publishing giant Condé Nast buys Reddit for less than $20 million. The exact price has never been confirmed.
2007 – Aaron Swartz leaves the company.
2009 – The two co-founders Ohanian and Huffman left the company, launching new ventures Breadpig and Hipmunk respectively.
2011 – Reddit becomes operationally independent of Condé Nast. The platform comes under fire for hosting a subreddit called jailbait which features an image of an underage girl. Reddit shutters the subreddit.
2012 – Yishan Wong, a former Facebook employee becomes Reddit CEO.
2013 – A subreddit called ‘findbostonbombers’ wrongly identifies a number of people as suspects in the Boston Bombings.
2014 – After five years away from the company, Ohanian and Huffman returned to Reddit. Ohanian became full-time executive chairman and Huffman became CEO.
2015 – Reddit introduces an anti-harassment policy for users to report bad behaviors on the platform. ‘the_donald’ subreddit was set up by users when Donald Trump announced he was running for president.
2018 – The subreddit MillionDollarExtreme was banned for violating Reddit’s policy about violent content with its content often being racist, homophobic and transphobic.
2020 – Ohanian stands down from the company.