Christopher Slowe, a five-year veteran of Reddit who has been in charge of the Conde Nast-owned social news site since the departure of its founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian last year, announced on Monday that he's leaving his post. He'll be joining Hipmunk, the travel search site that Huffman launched a few months ago and which brought Ohanian on board in September.
This is a notable move. Reddit has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately, with its base of hardcore users successfully launching an online campaign to convince comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to host a political rally in Washington, D.C. last weekend--CBS News estimated that 215,000 people showed up. Competitor Digg, meanwhile, has been struggling with a backlash to its recent "Version 4" redesign that resulted in hardcore users carpet-bombing the site with Reddit links. Basically, the bad press for Digg has been great for Reddit.
"Though over the years we've had a fair share of bumps and outages, I daresay we are now thriving, and after a lot of thought I've decided to leave Reddit (the job part any way) on a high note," Slowe wrote in a post on Reddit.
But Reddit's beef with its parent company has been painfully visible. Conde Nast's Wired Digital division purchased the start-up in 2006, and for much of the ensuing time it stayed small while Digg grew and was courting valuations in the nine figures. But as Reddit experienced a spike in popularity this year, its relations with its parent company only grew frostier. In July, Reddit announced that Conde Nast had slashed its budgets, asking for donations from users to help keep it running. When the media company demanded that Reddit stop accepting advertisements in support of California's Proposition 19 ballot initiative, which supports the legalization of marijuana, Reddit ran them anyway--for free.
In his post on Reddit, Slowe insists he isn't leaving bitterly. "To kill any conspiracy theories in the cradle, my parting with Conde Nast has been nothing but amicable," he wrote. "I have no doubt I'll be partaking in an odd job now and again on the site."
"I have been literally begging Chris to join us for months, and we are relieved he's finally finished playing hard-to-get and joining us," a post on the Hipmunk blog by founder Steve Huffman read. "Hopefully he'll be able to put his Physics Ph.D. to as much good use here as he did at Reddit."