The boss of online comminity Reddit is standing down after a user reviolt over an employee’s sacking earlier this month.
Pao ends her eight-month tenure to be replaced by co-founder and former chief, Steve Huffman.
He will rejoin Reddit’s other co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, who has returned to the company’s San Francisco headquarters full-time.
Earlier this month Reddit’s users reacted with fury after Victoria Taylor, an employee with the firm, had been sacked.
Taylor oversaw the “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) section of the site that interviewed celebrities, politicians and other newsworthy figures.
Taylor was a key contact for the site’s moderators, mostly volunteers who manage nearly 10,000 discussion boards, or subreddits.
Hundreds of the site’s chat sections, known as sub-reddits, were shut down in protest at the decision.
Taylor’s dismissal provoked a user revolt, as moderators shut down hundreds of subreddits. A petition on the social-causes website Change.org calling for Ms Pao to step down gained steam over the weekend and now has more than 200,000 signatures.
The moderators, who are considered crucial to the site’s success, were upset that the dismissal of a community liaison they relied upon left them unprepared to host already scheduled events. Ms Pao apologised to users, posting Monday, “We screwed up.”
In a statement, the site criticised some of Reddit’s community over “sickening comments” made towards Pao.
“The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world,” wrote Sam Altman, a lead investor in the site.
“People are still people even if there is internet between you. If the Reddit community cannot learn to balance authenticity and compassion, it may be a great website but it will never be a truly great community.”
Speaking of Ms Pao’s contribution to the site, Mr Altman said: “We are thankful for Ellen’s many contributions to Reddit and the technology industry generally.
“She brought a face to Reddit that changed perceptions, and is a pioneer for women in the tech industry. She will remain as an advisor to the board through the end of 2015. I look forward to seeing the great things she does beyond that.”
Pao told the New York Times: “It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year. Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.”
Pao will remain as an advisor to the board for the remainder of 2015.