New Reddit CEO Yishan Wong has sent out his first public communication since officially taking over the reins at the ‘front page on the internet’.
A former director of engineering at Facebook, Wong was asked to step into the CEO role shortly after Reddit was spun off as an independent entity from publishing giant Condé Nast.
In an open letter to the social news site’s community, Wong expressed surprise at the fact that he’d even been considered for the position:
I didn’t have any straight-up CEO experience, despite having managed large teams of engineers and working on numerous business and startup issues. So imagine my surprise when two days later, I was contacted asking if I was interested in talking about the position
Even after he was contacted Wong says he didn’t believe he was a serious candidate:
It didn’t seem real, and I knew that I didn’t match the profile of what you might consider (or so I thought) a CEO 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).
He says, however, that he gradually came to understand that Reddit wasn’t actually looking for a conventional CEO, “because Reddit is not a conventional company”.
Wong claims his hope is that Reddit will eventually become a company that can “use technology to do truly great things”.
He is inspired, he says, “by the words of an engineer who once described Google as a place where ‘engineers can go all the way to the top, a place where the IT and HR policies are written with engineers in mind.’”
Wong claims that he has been working with Advance Publications (Condé Nast’s parent company) to complete the company’s spin-off and that a new board including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (kn0thing) has been formed.
He also claims that he’s not the kind of CEO to “step in and make ‘big, bold changes'” and promises that there are “a lot of good features already in the pipeline” for the social news site.
Reddit was founded in 2005 by Ohanian and Steve Huffman, two graduates from the university of Virginia. The site is now open source and all its code is available freely on Github. Its only income is in the form of limited advertising and Reddit Gold, an optional premium service for US$3.99 per month that offers new features to users.
Reddit was among the foremost sites to go black in protest of controversial web censoring legislation SOPA. A number of its users have also come together to draft legislation designed to protect internet freedom.