I am Dacvak, former reddit employee and leukemia fighter.
Hi everyone! I’ve been wanting to do one of these for a while now - a few years, actually! I figured now is as good a time as any, though in light of the recent events, I’ll gear this AMA more towards my time at reddit, versus my personal life (though you are absolutely free to ask about that, too.)
Back in 2011, I applied for a job at reddit. The job was actually /u/hueypriest’s (Erik Martin) former position as Community Manager as he stepped up to General Manager of reddit. In late 2011, after a series of interviews, I received a call from /u/hueypriest offering me the position of Community Manager. (Back then, there were seriously about 10 employees at reddit. It was a very, very small company.) I obviously accepted the position.
However, in early 2012, a week before I was supposed to move to San Francisco, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia. I spent the next six of seven months in the hospital and received four enormous rounds of chemo as well as a bone marrow transplant. During my treatment (the day after my birthday, actually), reddit had made a company blog post about my diagnosis, reaching out to the community to help me find a bone marrow donor. reddit had also made the choice to keep my position open until I was able to return healthy and able to work. I will forever be grateful for what /u/hueypriest and the rest of the company did for me back then.
Eventually I was cured of leukemia (or so I thought) and was finally able to begin working at reddit. About a year went by while I worked (mostly remotely) for reddit, until I was once again ready to move to their headquarters. Unfortunately, weeks before moving, I had relapsed and my leukemia came back, this time harder than ever.
Around this time (probably early 2014), former reddit CEO Yishan Wong and current General Manager /u/hueypriest had made the decision to not only keep my job open, but help me by continuing to offer me payment from the company until I was once again ready to return to work. (Much like when Erik Wolpaw of Valve was sick before he was able to work.) Again, I can not stress enough how grateful I am to Yishan, /u/hueypriest, and all of reddit for helping me out during the hardest part of my life.
It was only until recently, late 2014, that I was able to return to work (remotely). Unfortunately due to new practices at reddit, all of the working employees were mandated to work from San Francisco, so I wasn’t actually able to work until I was ready to move. In January of 2015, I was almost ready to move to reddit. I had even flown out to SF for a few days while all of the reddit employees met during a company-wide 3-day seminar.
During this time, I had sat down with Ellen Pao (current reddit CEO) to discuss my future at reddit and when I was able to move. I had told her that it would still be at least a month (but probably closer to 2 or 3) before I was finally able to move to SF, and she said she was 100% fine with that. We discussed my position, and ultimately determined that I would be returning to the Community Management team. I met some of the new members of the team, all was well, and then I flew home on day 3.
Less than a month later, in February of 2015, I received a call from Ellen stating that I was to be terminated in less than a week. When I asked what the specific reason was, she had roughly stated that “because of our discussion, you are too sick to properly fulfill your duties as Community Manager.” (At no point during our meeting was this stated - I had raised concerns about the stress levels of Community Management, but had ultimately decided that it was something I could easily manage.)
I pleaded with Ellen to let me stay, as I had been sick for over a full year now and the only thing that was on my mind was coming back to work - work I loved so very, very much. She finally stated that if I were to get permission from my doctor stating that it was okay for me to move to SF and begin work, that I would be able to come back. I stated this wouldn’t be a problem, and proceeded to contact my doctor to arrange this. Unfortunately, a day later, she had called and once again stated that I was fired, stating that work would be too demanding for my health (something that I still, personally, should have been decided by me and my doctor - not someone who I had effectively never worked with while she was CEO).
Edit: It is ABSOLUTELY worth noting that even though I was fired, in lieu of severance pay, I accepted one year of COBRA medical coverage paid by reddit. That was definitely generous and I am grateful to Ellen and reddit for helping me with that.
I honestly still don’t know why I was let go from reddit, but it was a devastating blow, especially because I was finally able to return to work after so much time. Though, the decision to keep my position open was ultimately Yishan’s and /u/hueypriest’s, not Ellen’s, so once they left, I guess the decision was her’s.
In my opinion, a great deal at reddit has changed since Ellen Pao has taken the helm. It used to be a company run by a tight-knit group of people honestly working towards the happiness and welfare of the community and its employees. The inner workings, while sometimes a bit convoluted and messy, were always with the best of the community in mind. I can say that with 100% honesty.
To be fair, I had only witnessed the current inner workings of reddit for a few months while Ellen took the helm, so I thing definitely might have changed since I left, though today’s situation doesn’t exactly shine good light on the current structure of reddit and its employees.
Victoria (aka /u/chooter) was, without question, one of the nicest, most passionate, most efficient workers at reddit, and I honestly can’t fathom why she would have been terminated. It was such an honor to work with her, and as many mods have already stated, she truly took her work to heart and tried to provide a service to the community. She was one of the most well-known admins and was just incredible at her job. Without her, there would be hundreds of incredible AMAs that would have never happened.
My guess as to why she was fired is as good as anyone else’s, but if I had to muster up some explanation, it would be that reddit is likely trying to turn AMAs into something they currently aren’t. (Perhaps sponsored AMAs? I don’t know.) Otherwise there would have been no reason to let Victoria go. Literally everyone at the company loved her, including me, and it’s an enormous shame to see her go.
Honestly, I don’t know why reddit is making some of the decisions they are, but I still wish the very best for those who currently work there.
Anyway, this is an AMA, so please feel free to ask me whatever you’d like. I’ll be happy to answer.