While Ellen Pao is gallivating in The Guardian about how she was a trailblazer for feminism, and apparently the journalist is eating it up, other sources have noted a more likely truth: Pao was a pawn in a game to seize control of Reddit from the corporation to which its founders sold it for too little money for them to become Silicon Valley elites.
In a response to a Reddit thread titled "What's the best "long con" you ever pulled?", Wong spun a wild tale that almost seems plausible:In 2006, reddit was sold to Conde Nast. It was soon obvious to many that the sale had been premature, the site was unmanaged and under-resourced under the old-media giant who simply didn't understand it and could never realize its full potential, so the founders and their allies in Y-Combinator (where reddit had been born) hatched an audacious plan to re-extract reddit from the clutches of the 100-year-old media conglomerate. Together with Sam Altman, they recruited a young up-and-coming technology manager with social media credentials. Alexis, who was on the interview panel for the new reddit CEO, would reject all other candidates except this one. The manager was to insist as a condition of taking the job that Conde Nast would have to give up significant ownership of the company, first to employees by justifying the need for equity to be able to hire top talent, bringing in Silicon Valley insiders to help run the company. After continuing to grow the company, he would then further dilute Conde Nast's ownership by raising money from a syndicate of Silicon Valley investors led by Sam Altman, now the President of Y-Combinator itself, who in the process would take a seat on the board. Once this was done, he and his team would manufacture a series of otherwise-improbable leadership crises, forcing the new board to scramble to find a new CEO, allowing Altman to use his position on the board to advocate for the re-introduction of the old founders, installing them on the board and as CEO, thus returning the company to their control and relegating Conde Nast to a position as minority shareholder.Wong suggests—just as a joke, of course—that Pao's resignation and the events that led up to it were all part of a conspiracy to bring back the company's original leadership and wrestle its autonomy back from Conde Nast.
I doubt it was that organized. But it is clear that the founders have been trying to re-take Reddit after selling it for, in their view, too little money back in 2006. My guess is that this was less planned than a steady struggle for power between the forces controlling the site, especially as Conde Nast showed decreased ability to help the site grow.