Reddit appoints Yishan Wong as new CEO

9 Mar 2012

A former director of engineering at Facebook Yishan Wong has become the new CEO of content-sharing website Reddit.

Wong was previously a director of engineering at Facebook and left to do start-up consulting. He has also been a member of Reddit since 2005.

Wong announced the news in a blog post, saying he was surprised to get the job. He believed he “didn’t match the profile of what you might consider (or so I thought) a CEO candidate.” However, he said he soon learned Reddit was not looking for the typical candidate.

“I don’t have the polish and the poise and the schmoozing, and I don’t play golf. Instead, I’m an engineer and a leader of engineers and I play Starcraft (poorly),” said Wong.

“But as I continued the conversations, I came to understand that Reddit wasn’t looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because Reddit is not a conventional company,” he said.

Reddit was previously acquired by Condé Naste Publications in 2006. In September 2011, it announced it would spin out to become its own independent company under the firm which owns Condé Naste Publications, Advance Publications. As a result, it was looking for a CEO to help complete the spin-off.

Wong helped establish a new board for Reddit, which includes its co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and revamped its capital structure to let the company manage its own finances and operations to give competitive equity compensation to its employees. He also said he wouldn’t make any huge changes to Reddit in this new role.

“This structure is so that Reddit can move quickly and flexibly, have full control over its resources, and grow to meet the demands of its mission,” said Wong.

“I’m not looking to step in and make ‘big, bold changes’ – I think Reddit is great, and the team has a lot of good features already in the pipeline to improve functionality for users and mods, help with subreddit discovery, improve the API, and help bring Reddit to more people – so the primary goal for my first few months is to listen and try to learn as much as I can about the details of the product and the community.

“I think the best way to get acquainted and learn what’s important to everyone is to have an ongoing conversation,” he said.