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How Meta: Reddit CEO Chews Out Former Reddit Employee On Reddit

A lesson in why you should keep your mouth shut after being fired.

How Meta: Reddit CEO Chews Out Former Reddit Employee On Reddit
[Photo: Flickr user Jeff Keacher]

Let this be an example for disgruntled employees everywhere: If you left on bad terms, it’s probably smart to keep quiet. It is not a good idea to attempt damage control on your company’s very platform. As one former Reddit employee learned the hard way, the CEO might be watching.

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On Sunday, former Reddit software engineer David Ehrmann took to the message board to start an Ask Me Anything thread about being an employee at the startup (how meta, we know).

Naturally, readers were curious about why Ehrmann, now a software engineer at Spotify, departed from the company. He said he was laid off, but theorized it was because he raised concerns about a company policy instituted earlier this year to donate 10% of advertising revenue to charity.

Things got ugly Monday morning when Reddit CEO Yishan Wong chimed in (emphasis his):

You were fired for the following reasons:

  1. Incompetence and not getting much work done.
  2. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments/questions when interviewing candidates
  3. Making incorrect comments in public about reddit’s systems that you had very little knowledge of, even after having these errors pointed out by your peers and manager.
  4. Not taking feedback from your manager or other engineers about any of these when given to you, continuing to do #2 until we removed you from interviewing, and never improving at #1.

Wong said that Reddit encourages feedback from employees, but Ehrmann was fired because he failed to follow through on his responsibilities. He also decided to show Ehrmann the folly of his ways in an epic burn (emphasis ours):

When an employee is dismissed from employment at a company, the policy of almost every company (including reddit) is not to comment, either publicly or internally. This is because companies have no desire to ruin someone’s future employment prospects by broadcasting to the world that they were fired. In return, the polite expectation is that the employee will not go shooting their mouth off about the company especially (as in your case) through irresponsibly unfounded speculation. Signing a non-disparagement indicates that you have no intention to do this, so the company can then say “Ok, if anyone comes asking for a reference on this guy, we needn’t say he was fired, just give a mildly positive reference.” Even if you don’t sign the non-disparagement, the company will give you the benefit of the doubt and not disparage you or make any negative statements first. Unfortunately, you have just forfeited this arrangement.

Ehrmann hasn’t commented on his thread since Wong’s retort. His last response was to a user’s question of what he hopes Reddit’s management will take away from the AMA: “Remind me to take a look at this when I’ve got time.”

Fast Company has reached out to Ehrmann to comment on his AMA thread.

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About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal

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