The world’s most popular social news site has a new CEO, and a very atypical CEO at that. Yishan Wong is a long time redditor, former Facebook Engineer, power Quora user – and now reddit’s CEO. Wong left Facebook about a year ago to do start up consulting, but jumped at the chance of overseeing Reddit:
At first, I didn’t really quite believe I 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). 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.
Some immediate work that Wong will be working on is the spin-off from Advance Publications, the former owners of reddit. After being owned for many years, reddit is now going back to being an independent company. In addition to helping reddit become more flexible and nimble as an independent company Wong stated that the following:
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
Even though Wong stated that he wasn’t planning on stepping an and making “big, bold changes” founder Alexis Ohanian gave Wong his support while shedding a bit of light on what was asked during the interview:
I asked all of the candidates I interviewed the question: “Why did digg fail?”
Yishan knows. And I’ll do everything in my capacity as a board member of reddit, inc. to make sure he doesn’t f*ck it up.
edit: FWIW, I believe he also had one of the oldest, if not the oldest, account I saw. He’s been redditing since it was spez and me in a Somerville apartment with keysersosa putting in latenight hours when not doing his PhD.
And Wong also received praise from former Operations Manager of Reddit, Jeremy Edberg:
I’ve never met Yishan personally, but from what I do know, I think this is an excellent addition to team reddit. He knows technology and data and advertising, the three main things I think the reddit CEO needs to succeed.
I look forward to hearing more about his vision for reddit.