Ms. Pao and Reddit

Why is the world so angry with Pao? Could it be because she is a woman in a position of power or is it infinitely more complicated? It goes back to the sex discrimination lawsuit that Pao brought against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers in March.

It could actually be, as KPCB said, and the jury agreed, that she’s just not very good at the job.

44 thoughts on “Ms. Pao and Reddit”

  1. ‘The world’..?

    I guarantee you, stop 20 people in the street this morning & if one has even heard of this woman, I’ll be astounded.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    On the other hand, if you treat your moderators like sh!t, don’t be surprised if everyone gets annoyed.

    It was such a dumb move. If Jessie Jackson is dumb enough to go on Reddit, that is his problem. Questions are bound to be hostile. If Mother Teresa had gone on, she would have got a good kicking.

  3. An online petition? Oh, wow. That must be the work of the neoliberal Silicon Valley venture capital establishment.

    What you say? The users of reddit think she’s changing the site away from what they like? It’s a communitarian thing?

  4. To say it has anything to do with her being a woman is simply ridiculous. It comes down to her mismanagement, neglect and perhaps even contempt for the community which is the be all and end all of the company which she heads…

    If it would have been a man, a person of an LGBT persuasion, any race, weight or height they would have got the same stick! Hell, maybe only a cat could have gotten away with it – we all know the internet loves a cat.

  5. It must be because she’s a woman, because she’s a woman.

    That is how the Left thinks. Your train is delayed? It’s because I’m a lesbian!

    Paranoia enshrined as a political ideology and ash of life.

  6. Ellen Pao is a gender hustler pure and simple. Of course the left falls in line behind her.

    What staggers me is that the owners of Reddit could have hired such an obvious incompetent.

  7. What staggers me is that the owners of Reddit could have hired such an obvious incompetent.

    One who was in the middle of litigation against her former employers. There’s a red flag right there.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “One who was in the middle of litigation against her former employers. There’s a red flag right there.”

    Silicon Valley seems to be folding to the Gender hustlers even though they showed off the Race hustlers. They told Jessie Jackson he could go pound sand and didn’t give him much cash. But the feminists are going to get quotas. The things that dorks will do to get laid.

    It is not merely the litigation, it is willfully misunderstanding what they have. They do not have a prime piece of internet real estate. They offered a place where computer geeks could come and hang out. Half a dozen sites can and do offer that. So why would they come to Reddit? Because other people come there to hang out. It is familiar and comfortable.

    So sane people do not start changing the tone, much less lecturing their frickin’ cash cows on what sexist little pricks they are. Reddit started down this path with GamerGate. Banning computer nerds because they are upset at being manipulated and lied to is not going to endear you to other computer nerds.

    What does Reddit have that anyone actually wants?

  9. “it could actually be … that she’s just not very good at the job.”

    If the world is going to get angry at everyone who is no bloody good there’s going to be a Vesuvius of anger.

  10. “Reddit started down this path with GamerGate. ”

    Huh? GamerGate started on Reddit, it’s still the central hub for organising it. Nobody’s been banned there for having anything to do with GamerGate.

  11. Hmmm…

    It goes back to the sex discrimination lawsuit that Pao brought against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers

    Quite. Trumped-up lawsuits don’t make you popular.

    In the process, Pao’s personal life, work habits, and emails were raked through the court. She was accused of being aggressive, timid, greedy, manipulative, and so on.

    Well, she brought the case to court, accusing her employers – who hired and remunerated her extremely generously – of being the evil bigoted white male partners who abused poor Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.

    Should the defendants not have been allowed to defend themselves?

    Even though she lost […] the case shone a light on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley.

    Let’s rephrase that: even though she is a proven liar, the media has tried to pretend her failed ambulance-chasing lawsuit was a victory, somehow. Because “diversity”.

    “If I’ve helped level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” she told reporters

    Nah. If she’d won the huge financial damages she was seeking, it’d have been worth it. Instead, like her similarly litigious (and likely soon to be bankrupt) husband, her reputation now lies in tatters and she faces huge legal bills that might sink her.

    This would be like me accusing Mary Berry of being a witch who lures children into her gingerbread house, suing her, losing, and then trying to brazen it out by claiming to have helped children not get eaten by witches.

    Her move to Reddit, at first glance, seemed incongruous. […] could it be that Pao wanted to clean up what some regard as the biggest online mess of them all?

    Could it be she didn’t have any better offers?

    Reddit, as well as being a breeding ground for memes and gifs, has a reputation, sometimes hard to square with site users used to its different face, for being a toxic, misogynistic community. A Chinese-American feminist in charge? That’s really interesting.

    It’s really not.

    Back in the days when Yahoo was the go-to search engine, nobody cared that Jerry Yang was Chinese.

    They cared about what Yahoo could do for them.

    For it is not from the ethnicity or sex of the butcher, the brewer, or the website CEO that we expect our dinner or cat gifs, but from their regard to their own interest.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “It’s really not. Back in the days when Yahoo was the go-to search engine, nobody cared that Jerry Yang was Chinese.”

    The previous CEO of Reddit was Wong Yishan. Who I would guess was just as Chinese-American as Pao. And just as much as feminist. Although I have no idea if Wong is male or female.

    Not recall anyone complaining though.

  13. I have a post about Ms. Pao’s career failings over at my site. Washing out at firms such as CS&M and KP is no sin; they’re both elite firms. But those failures – coupled with carrying on an adulterous affair with a partner at KP and the infamous KP lawsuit – seems to indicate she may not be the stuff of which great corporate managers are made… to put it mildly.

    But everyone’s missing The Point here.

    The point is that Conde Nast and Alexis Ohanian bringing in Ellen Pao as CEO has confirmed what much of Reddit’s user base has long suspected… That Reddit’s ownership and senior management neither likes nor respects them. This is exemplified by the way Reddit’s management (well before Pao, by the way) treats its moderators.

    Reddit is, by all accounts, a very rough and tumble, un-PC sort of place. (The Jesse Jackson AMA would only come as a shock to those unfamiliar with it.) And Silicon Valley is a very small, insular, self-regarding sort of place. For all intents and purposes it’s a very rich and very glorified 1950s Deep South hick town. Conflict was inevitable.

    So what it comes down to is this: Reddit isn’t what its owners want it to be. The hiring of Ellen Pao made that fact public, and Reddit users are voicing their displeasure. What’s bizarre about this is that Alexis Ohanian had a ring-side seat to watch another firm self-destruct because of this sort of gap between ownership/management and customer base: That would be Digg.

  14. SMFS – Although I have no idea if Wong is male or female.

    He’s a man, so not diverse enough, presumably.

    Matthew – ban this sick filth now!

    David Cameron was right about the internet. You’d never catch lovely Michael Gove looking at pictures of girls “gone wild”.

    George Osborne might, he has the look of a Victorian cad.

  15. Sam – But if you pool the numbers for the industry, the proportion of women seems appalling. Which, of course, is true of high tech in general.

    Why is it appalling?

  16. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Well, apparently if your corporate lineup doesn’t look like a cross between the United Colors of Benetton catalogue and The Midwich Cuckoos, that’s appalling. It’s the almost total rhetorical inversion of “it’s not what someone looks like, it’s what’s on the inside that counts”. The SJWs want us all to have the diversity of a bag of Smarties.

  17. Well, apparently if your corporate lineup doesn’t look like a cross between the United Colors of Benetton catalogue and The Midwich Cuckoos, that’s appalling.

    Feminism effectively wants to end meritocracy. If you look at IQ distributions, and the prevalence of certain psychologies like Mild Autism its clear why most coders and techies are blokes.

    All their calls for a “level playing field” is the precise opposite. They want the field tilted so they can compete with a hypernerd with 25 more points of IQ.

  18. One of the reasons there are so few women in SV is that the big tech companies get to bring in huge numbers of (male) software engineers over from India on H1B visas, which restrict the visa holder from switching employers. Cut-rate labor for Google, Facebook, etc. depresses the prevailing wages for tech workers in the US, making tech a less appealing career choice for US-born men and women.

  19. Matthew L:

    “Or for the brave”

    Somewhat niche, though? SMFS thinks Reddit has little or nothing that anything wants. Well, nubile exhibitionists seem to be very popular with a particular male demographic and competitive nubile female exhibitionists…

  20. Sam,

    The problem with women in tech is that they don’t start early enough and don’t take enough risks. The first 50-100 people in a tech company are nearly all men, which means by the time it’s a 10,000 person company, the company is run by those 50-100 people. The women then eventually come through when it’s a lumbering dinosaur that is on its way out.

  21. @smfs – But the feminists are going to get quotas. The things that dorks will do to get laid.

    But they won’t get laid, it will make that more difficult for them – the more money women have, the more choice they have, and they choose not geeks.

  22. So Much for Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “Somewhat niche, though? SMFS thinks Reddit has little or nothing that anything wants. Well, nubile exhibitionists seem to be very popular with a particular male demographic and competitive nubile female exhibitionists…”

    Yes, but that is not the point. Reddit does not have those pictures. Reddit is providing a place where people who want to post those sort of pictures can post them and where people who want to look at them can find them. It is not providing the porn. It is providing the venue for people who are interested in porn to meet.

    And that is their problem. What is so special about Reddit? They have a reputation. They are known. But anyone can run a website where people can meet and swap NSFW pictures. They have no intellectual property worth a damn. They have no legal entitlement to those viewers. All they can do is provide a place porn-swapping geeks want to come. Which is irreconcilable with calling them sexist pigs. In the long run.

  23. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “The problem with women in tech is that they don’t start early enough and don’t take enough risks. The first 50-100 people in a tech company are nearly all men, which means by the time it’s a 10,000 person company, the company is run by those 50-100 people. The women then eventually come through when it’s a lumbering dinosaur that is on its way out.”

    When I say things like that I get flamed. The injustice of it all. Start ups are overwhelmingly male. Men are risk takers. Women have a strong preference for safe jobs. Not all of them. Not all the time. But enough. So having a lot of women in a company is a sign of a stodgy corporate culture. No one takes risks. No one gets fired.

    Hence women are concentrated in sectors of the economy that are failing.

    johnny bonk – “But they won’t get laid, it will make that more difficult for them – the more money women have, the more choice they have, and they choose not geeks.”

    That is true. Nothing is going to get some geeks laid apart from some serious cash. Even Mark Zuckerberg married someone from a more geek-friendly cultural background.

    But they live in hope.

    In the meantime this is such a shameless shake down. Not just by feminists either. The liberal arts students who utterly despised those geeks back in school now want a slice of the pie. Ultimately that is what GamerGate was about – geeks should not be left to control what games get written and played. There is a lot of money in tech and I think everyone is agreed that geeks are entitled to a lot less of it.

  24. @ SMFS
    “There is a lot of money in tech and I think everyone is agreed that geeks are entitled to a lot less of it.”
    *That* is where you deserve to get flamed. The money in tech has been earned by the geeks who created the tech. Too much is paid to the salesmen, lawyers and bureaucrats.
    For avoidance of doubt: I am not a geek: I gave up programming when I was twenty.

  25. john77 – Porter, Williams, or Bassey?

    The Stigler – The problem with women in tech is that they don’t start early enough and don’t take enough risks.

    Yes. It’s also a problem that sex differences get problematised. Sam seems to have absorbed the strange idea – so common in our culture – that if there are different demographic outcomes in any given field, Something Must Be Done.

    There’s nothing wrong with women being less risk-taking than men. Nothing wrong with them preferring to work part time or take maternity leave or work in cushier people-oriented roles rather than slaving over a hot workstation for 80 hours a week or drive 20,000 miles a year chasing big deals.

    It means they’re less likely to get to the top of tech firms or most other types of business, but there’s nothing wrong with that either. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that fewer women end up bankrupt and homeless as a result of chasing a risky startup dream. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that fewer women work themselves into an early grave.

    In truth, most men aren’t risk takers either. It’s the few, the brave, and the foolhardy who start a new business. Most of them fail. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s fine.

    What do we want from tech companies? Simples: we want tech, cheap or free as they can make it. It doesn’t matter to us, the users, if it’s invented by socially awkward Dwayne Dibley types or gorgeous, simpering supermodels, or transsexual dwarves from the Gaza Strip.

    We don’t need no stinking Diana Moon Glampers or Harriet Harman to impose their vision of what ratio of willies to fannies is acceptable in the boardroom or the lab or the golf course. We’re consenting adults, capable of making our own career decisions, business decisions, and purchasing decisions.

    Reddit has hired a CEO whose business plan appears to be:

    Step 1) Feminism
    Step 2) ???
    Step 3) $$$Profit!!!$$$

    It’s going to be interesting to see how that turns out. My money’s on her suing Reddit next, after she suddenly realises that they’re sexist discriminators too.

  26. John77 – Too much is paid to the salesmen, lawyers and bureaucrats.

    Agreed on the last two parts, but salesmen earn every penny of their commission.

    Techies are – and I don’t mean to generalise here – smelly autists who often look like homeless people. C-level decision makers don’t want some shifty guy who takes style tips from Worzel Gummidge stinking up their boardroom when they’re thinking of dropping a couple of mil on a new datacentre.

    It takes a salesman to, you know, sell the product. Without sales, the greatest gizmo in the world is just scrap.

    Salesmen are the heroes of any successful business. They are knights clad in Hugo Boss, sitting aloft their trusty 5 Series as they prepare to battle to bring in orders.

    But do they get thanked for keeping all the little people in a job? No! Your reward for being successful in sales is a bigger target next year.

    But they don’t complain. The true salesman is a joyful warrior, and should he ever feel underappreciated he keeps his tears between himself and his luxury silk pillow stuffed full of £50 notes.

  27. @ Steve
    Dame Stephanie Shirley founded and ran Freelance Programmers, renamed F I Group and then Xansa: it was taken over 14 years after she retired at which time it had turnover of £380m.
    I expected that people discussing women in tech would recognise the name as FI Group was 99% female until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made that illegal.

  28. So Much for Subtlety

    john77 – “*That* is where you deserve to get flamed. The money in tech has been earned by the geeks who created the tech. Too much is paid to the salesmen, lawyers and bureaucrats.”

    It is not my fault people don’t recognise sarcasm. That is not usually what I get criticised for either.

  29. John77

    The assumption at the time was Fanny International made its money on government contracts. Unless you know different?

  30. Women have a strong preference for safe jobs. Not all of them. Not all the time. But enough. So having a lot of women in a company is a sign of a stodgy corporate culture. No one takes risks. No one gets fired.

    It’s hard to disagree with that. For whatever reason (and I don’t care what they are) women tend to do more of the admin/support roles than front-line delivery. In a small company, nearly everyone is billable or producing something billable and the support functions are small. As they grow, and eventually become a lumbering corporate beast, those admin roles and support functions – HR, training, travel, general services, etc. – grow exponentially and tend to be dominated by women. I’m of the opinion that the more of these functions which are taken away from departmental managers and processed separately, the more fucked the corporation is. So it’s not really about the capabilities of women per se which indicates the type (and health) of a company, but more the abundance of roles that women normally do.

  31. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “So it’s not really about the capabilities of women per se which indicates the type (and health) of a company, but more the abundance of roles that women normally do.”

    I don’t know. I think it may also have something to do with confrontation. Men are raised to talk and behave more frankly. They have ways of dealing with people telling them they are full of sh!t to their face. Not good ways, all too often, but they have ways. Women, in my experience, will do a lot to avoid a confrontation.

    But in a big corporation sometimes you need a bit of confrontation. If someone is doing a sh!t job, they need to be told – and it is better to tell them to their face. If someone is making the wrong decision, it is better to have someone who will say so.

  32. @ Roue le jour
    I know that the assumption at the time was that government contracts went to the big boys, ICT, IBM, Honeywell and that small firms got small contracts from SMEs.
    I don’t know what actually happened ‘cos I never covered the software sector as an analyst.

  33. “But they don’t complain. The true salesman is a joyful warrior, and should he ever feel underappreciated he keeps his tears between himself and his luxury silk pillow stuffed full of £50 notes.”

    As a Sales Director I love this – even if it’s complete balls. Salespeople moan like fucking banshees!

  34. Tim Newman,

    “I’m of the opinion that the more of these functions which are taken away from departmental managers and processed separately, the more fucked the corporation is.”

    It’s because they are no longer accountable to that manager.

    I’ve seen how small companies do things. We needed a French translator on a project. My boss told me to have a look around on LinkedIn. Find someone who is a pro, with good ratings. I picked out 3 people, we sat down and discussed them for about 15 minutes, then gave 1 a call. Had a bit more of a chat, explained our project. Sent her a confidentiality agreement that came back in an hour and then I sent her the project stuff. In 3 days, with some to-ing and fro-ing, she’d finished the job. I then loaded in her translations and made a site update and we had the site in French in about a week.

    In most large companies, I’d have to give a 4-6 week lead time, because of raising a supplier selection processes, raising POs, and once all that was done, and I’d done my bit, going through the change management process.

    Or in another example: I did some work at HP and it took me 4 weeks to get a server. I left there and worked in a 4 man business and it took us a couple of days to get a server when we needed one.

  35. Tim Newman,

    Just to add: and all the cost of that bureaucracy and friction on opportunities is what kills them. You don’t see it because it’s happening tens of thousands of times in small ways, but it all adds up.

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