The news comes less than a week after co-founder Alexis Ohanian said he was resigning from the company’s board and urged Reddit to select a Black candidate to replace him.
Seibel is a partner at early-stage VC firm Y Combinator and CEO of the YC startup accelerator program (which, prior to Seibel’s tenure, helped launch Reddit in 2005). He previously co-founded Justin.tv, the forerunner of Twitch; and mobile social-video startup Socialcam. During his time leading YC, the accelerator has funded and advised more than 1,800 startups. Seibel is widely known in the VC world for promoting diversity and inclusion.
“I want to thank Steve, Alexis, and the entire Reddit board for this opportunity,” Seibel said in a statement provided by Reddit. “I’ve known Steve and Alexis since 2007 and have been a Reddit user ever since. Over this period of time I’ve watched Reddit become part of the core fabric of the internet and I’m excited to help provide advice and guidance as Reddit continues to grow and tackle the challenges of bringing community and belonging to a broader audience.”
With his board appointment, Seibel is receiving equity in Reddit. The company does not “break down the specifics of our comp structure for any Reddit employee or board member,” according to a rep.
Ohanian, in announcing June 5 he was stepping down from Reddit’s board, said “it’s long overdue to do the right thing” and that “resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now.” Ohanian, who is married to tennis pro Serena Williams, said, “I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his Black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’”
For years, Reddit has been the target of critics who say the massive discussion-forum site provides a haven for racism and hate speech. In 2015, the company adopted a new content policy and banned several blatantly racist subreddits. However, Reddit’s rules do not explicitly take a position on hate or racism. CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman, in a June 5 post, said the company is working with moderators “to change our content policy to explicitly address hate,” acknowledging, “There is an unacceptable gap between our beliefs as people and a company, and what you see in our content policy.”
An open letter Monday to Huffman cosigned by 650 Reddit communities demanded the company take decisive action on the issue, including enacting a site-wide policy against racism, slurs, and hate speech targeted at protected groups. They also asked Reddit to honor Ohanian’s request to appoint a Black board member and to make a decision within the next three months — which Reddit now has done in bringing Seibel aboard.
Seibel co-founded and served as CEO of Justin.tv from 2007-11, the interactive video platform that would become Twitch (acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million). His next company, Socialcam, was incubated at Y Combinator and acquired by Autodesk in 2012.
Seibel began working part time at Y Combinator in 2013, became a partner in 2014, and then CEO of the accelerator program in 2016. During his time at YC, he has invested in companies including Cruise, Brex, Figma, Triplebyte, Reddit, Paystack, Mattermost, Rezi, Rippling, PayFazz, AptDeco, Squire, Magic, and Scentbird.
“Few people have Michael’s deep background in tech and know the challenges and opportunities we face as well as he does, so we are honored he is joining us,” Reddit’s Huffman said in a statement. “Not to mention, he is one of the smartest and kindest people in tech.”
Brooklyn-born Seibel graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2006, he served as finance director for former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume’s Senate campaign in Maryland. Seibel lives in San Francisco with his wife, Sarah, and son, Jonathan. In his free time, according to Reddit’s announcement, he enjoys cooking, traveling and “occasionally lurking” in the GifRecipes subreddit.
Reddit was founded in 2005 and acquired by Condé Nast in 2006. In 2011, the site spun out of Condé Nast, whose parent company Advance Publications still owns a stake in Reddit. Last year Reddit raised $300 million in funding from investors including Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity and Andreessen Horowitz, with the new round valuing the company at around $3 billion.
As of the end of 2019, Reddit said it averaged more than 430 million monthly visitors and 21 billion page views per month.