Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel replaces Alexis Ohanian on Reddit board

10 Jun 2020

Michael Seibel speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019. Image: Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel will join the Reddit board of directors after Alexis Ohanian stepped down last week.

Reddit’s board of directors has named Y Combinator CEO and partner Michael Seibel as Alexis Ohanian’s replacement. Last week, Ohanian – co-founder of Reddit – announced that he was to step down from his board position and urged the company to replace him with a black candidate.

Ohanian’s decision was based on the ongoing protests over racism and police brutality seen in the US and across the world. “I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now,” he wrote on Twitter.

In a statement, Seibel said of his appointment: “I want to thank [Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman], Alexis and the entire Reddit board for this opportunity.

“I’ve known Steve and Alexis since 2007 and have been a Reddit user ever since. Over this period of time I’ve watched Reddit become part of the core fabric of the internet and I’m excited to help provide advice and guidance as Reddit continues to grow and tackle the challenges of bringing community and belonging to a broader audience.”

Seibel was a co-founder of Justin.tv – which eventually became Twitch Interactive – and led the livestreaming platform between 2007 and 2011. In 2014, Twitch was sold to Amazon for $970m and Seibel joined Y Combinator as its first black partner.

Huffman added that the company is “honoured” for Seibel to join and that he is “one of the smartest and kindest people in tech”.

“Few people have Michael’s deep background in tech and know the challenges and opportunities we face as well as he does,” Huffman said.

Criticism of Reddit

Huffman has been criticised online for comments made about the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality, with former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao saying the company “nurtures and monetises white supremacy and hate”.

A number of communities on the platform also protested by making various pages private, meaning people could no longer visit them, or removing the ability to put up new posts.

Following Ohanian’s announcement that he was stepping down from the board, Huffman published another post that said Reddit has “work to do” with its current content policy, which “does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism”.

Meanwhile, moderators of the Ireland subreddit announced this week that the page would not allow new posts between midnight and 8am in order to “stem the flow” of racist and abusive content being published.

Voluntary moderators of the page, which has 280,000 members, said that there are “a multitude of sockpuppet accounts (typically posting in American hours), who will spam the subreddit with racist or hateful comments”.

Michael Seibel speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019. Image: Flickr/Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch (CC BY 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic