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Reddit raises $200M at a $1.8B valuation (recode.net)
416 points by snew on July 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 440 comments

If you are going to re-design a site like reddit, your best bet is to keep the old version in place, but allow people to also view all of the same content in the "new" design.

For example, release the new design on new.reddit.com and let viewers migrate over to it at their own pace.

Once you have a lot of people using the new reddit instead of the old design, you can migrate the old reddit to old.reddit.com and put the new design up as the default.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T GET RID OF THE CURRENT DESIGN, until you have adoption for the new design. Period. If you simply replace the old with the new, reddit is as good as dead.

They still do this with the old mobile interface (which I greatly prefer to the current one). If you just append .compact to a URL you get the old interface.

> The redesign is a massive effort and will take months to deploy. We'll have an alpha end of August, a public beta in October...


Exactly right. People like different interface styles; a big chunk of the current audience likes the current style. OK, they want to expand to people like me who prefer different styles, good call; but they shouldn't hang people who like what they have out to dry! Yeah, it's more work to come up wiht an interface that's flexible enough to support the different styles ... but they just raised $200M so can presumably afford it.

I hope they keep the old design and prioritize on fixing the implementation from a resource-usage perspective.

Reddit pages use a ton of RAM and CPU compared to sites like HN. Some of that is understandable considering the features they strive to support, but some of it is honestly just something that can be better engineered.

I understand your point, but wouldn't doing what you suggest lead to the problem of maintaining two different code bases? This doesn't seem like a good idea at all.

I think a better approach would be to commit to their new design, and do some sort of A/B testing to hone down the new UI until it replaces the old one.

I don't think reddit will die because of the changes they propose. This is just silly. For starters, there are Google Chrome plugins to make reddit more Facebook feed-like.

I myself like the way reddit works right now and would not like it to change much. That said, Reddit the company has to move towards what will make them money. I don't have this data, but their user base might have changed in the past years. People that really enjoy infinite feeds, for example.

You don't have to A/B test whether a good product is better than a redesigned crappy one.

Is the current user-base an asset or a liability? I guess I am asking is it a kind of technical debt?

I'm not sure, and Digg is obviously the cautionary tail here on the "don't tick off the user-base" side, but I'd wager that to continue to grow, they need a little more mass appeal.

Reddit as an anonymous FaceBook Feed might have some real value, as both a value prop for people, and as retargeting for Marketers. Reddit knows that you browse, say, /r/atheism as a Mormon, or /r/gonewildasian as a single guy, and those are not things FaceBook may know. There is a lot of value in anonymous, on both sides.

> Still, he says making money is “not our top priority,” estimating the company spends only about 20 percent of its resources on its advertising business. Huffman declined to share revenue totals. The company is also not profitable.

I can't imagine giving $200M to a group of people who publicly say they're not focused on ensuring I get it back. Is this a VC investment or a charity?

Also, have they not achieved profitability after 10+ years because they don't know how to make enough money (i.e. ad sales team is weak), costs are too high (i.e. bad code so lots of infra or too many employees), or is it just not possible to be profitable in this space?

Brings to mind an article I read circa 2001 where a Google executive said, "Look, we could be profitable next month if we covered the site with annoying ads, but we're not going to do that. We're focusing on growth now."

Worked out okay for their investors.

Google was still a fairly young company at that point. Reddit is 12 years old and had a $1.6B valuation prior to this $200M infusion. They've already achieved growth.

I think the investors' motivations are non-financial, akin to how YC invested in Quora.

Search results pages turn out to be the most valuable possible place to put ads.

Reddit might not be nearly so.

Then again Facebook initially seemed like it would have that problem but they seem to have overcome it.

But what if Reddit, which has tons of great content, blocks access to Google search, focuses on building a really good search engine, and strongly marketing it via sharing search results in their platform, could this become popular ?

And while $200M doesn't fit a design change, search engines are expensive.

If it were that simple Facebook would have tried it by now.

a) The investors may have been given a different answer as to how much Reddit cares about making money, even in the short term (I don't mean that they were mislead, but that it would be bad PR to tell the Reddit community the opposite)

b) They may have a plan towards profitability over a certain period of time that they haven't shared with you or me but that was convincing enough to potentially be a good investment (or maybe other scenarios, such as selling to an even bigger company who already can monetise... such as Google)

Maybe direct profitability is a red herring and the investors actually see the site as a propaganda and public sentiment modification engine.

I guess the brand is getting quite valuable.

I think there was some calculation estimating reddit's hosting costs at less than $10M. so it's probably not that.

A huge amount of reddit users (I think 70%+) use ad blockers.

Not true. Source: I was the ads PM not too long ago.

So out of curiosity, how many do block ads? I heard it's about that for gaming sites, but what's the rate like on Reddit as a whole?


I am of the opinion that trying to turn a profit on something like Reddit is a catch 22.

The concept of Reddit, which is user generated content curated by users, doesn't have a lot of need for a middleman, more of just a few moderators and admins to keep everything running smoothly. The power of the website is solely in its users and their content generation.

Unfortunately these slow changes have been eroding what was Reddit's strengths of free speech and open dialogue by turning the site into "advertisement friendly". That means killing all subreddits that could sour potential buyers and altering vote-counts to favor specific messages.

Combine this with the fact that they are supplanting viral marketing disguised as user posts (One from today even! https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/6ql2tu/made_my_deli...), allowing blatant vote manipulations (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2016/12/14/how-we-b...) or allowing entire takeovers (/r/politics during election cycle - hello CTR!) and you have a bloated replica of something that used to be an amazing social powered website.

IMO reddit should just take a couple steps towards federation. Don't have any default subreddits, more rights to subreddits and less federal governing. That way /r/politics can be left as they want to be and so on.

Yea, man.

Subreddits like coontown, jailbait, fatpeoplehate & a bunch of nazi subreddits really provided valuable debate and dialogue. Voat now has all that 'dialogue' and I don't think anything of value was lost.

But complaining about CTR shows your colors when both sides spend similar amounts.

the_donald is filtered out of /r/popular.

Within the context of redesigns I think there exists some value in looking at Facebook's failed card-based redesign back in 2013:


Essentially this big, beautiful design driven redesign ultimately never shipped because users spent less time on it. Certain design 'improvements' like increased padding between stories reduces density and as a result tends to reduce readership, for example. The internet as perceived by Engineers and Designers is quite different from the masses (even with Reddit's demographic differences from FB taken into account).

Reddit needs to be really careful with a redesign: data should lead the rollout efforts, not design. I think they are due for some UX improvements, perhaps around a gradual UI refresh; however, I have little faith in the product leadership at Reddit to pull this off. Huffman and crew need to be willing to can the entire redesign if user research and data come back negative.

Beauty is subjective; Usability is not.

Good design must be usable; otherwise we'd call it art.

That Facebook redesign for example, while very aesthetically pleasing it looks horrible or confusing to use:

  * Search box doesn't look like an input control
  * Low contrast for top right nav (how do I change to any other page?)
  * Where did my groups and apps go?
  * Large pictures, great for mock ups, but it just means more scrolling when 80% of
    content I don't care or want to see;
    I really don't want to have a picture of a high school friend's baby take up the whole screen
  * etc.
It looks nice though.

They later changed the search box, but I recall at the time their motivation was "we want the title of the page to also be a search field, rather than just a search field". It sort of made sense.

> Essentially this big, beautiful design driven redesign ultimately never shipped because users spent less time on it.

I think that this is a positive, morally and ethically. It's too bad.

Paper anyone?

Frankly, I love Reddit. If you pick and choose the right communities, it can be an amazing resource for everything from tech discussions, to local news, to emotional support. However, I will strongly agree with the perception problem, there's also a lot of bad on Reddit and its structure as a series of echo chambers doesn't help.

They should invest in some PR to let people know it's a platform, not a monolithic community. Although some people identify as "Redditors" which kind of undermines that point...

I agree. I've heard people say, "I don't understand why you use Reddit. I visited the front page and it is total garbage." But I've never heard anyone say the same thing about YouTube, even though its front page is just as bad.

Something also to consider is that provided I’m logged in, YouTube’s front page gives me pretty great recommendations based on what I’ve previously watched.

On Reddit, however, there’s a huge amount of great content I’m unlikely to stumble upon unless I’m seeking. This makes behavior based recommendations difficult. I think a combination of curated views (software eng front, political junkie, counter culture, etc) and machine based recommendation like YouTube could do great things for reddit.

I think the same could be said for many websites, especially once they hit a daily active user tipping point and you end up with CNN conflating 4chan's anime board with Anonymous.

I agree, and hope that them being beholden to more investor money won't screw up the great medium for conversation that lots of subreddits currently are.

I don't understand this. Anyone remember a time when companies used their developers to update their site without having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars?

> An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline:

So they will look like Facebook. Because nothing says cool and trendy like the social site your parents and aunts and uncles use. Now nothing wrong with aunts and uncles using the site, it's just that "fresh" and "cool" aren't exactly the first things that come to mind there.

> The company has about 230 employees, up from around 140 at the beginning of the year. Huffman would like to end 2017 with around 300 full-time staff.

That sounds odd too me as well, maybe I am not versed in startup culture. Having a goal of going from 230 to 300 people seems like a pointless metric (and wasteful). It's like saying "I want to write 1000 lines of code today".

I haven't seen much mentioned about moderation and admins and how they censor and manipulate content and talk about fostering better communities and so on.

> Eventually, though, Altman and Reddit’s other investors will want their money back and then some. Huffman says there are lots of ways for Reddit to exit, none of which he’s focused on at the moment.

Well there is the answer. They are trying to sell it. "Hey, Psst! Wanna buy this cool site for $2B. It looks fresh like Facebook, and we just grew by 30% (230 to 300 employees) in the last few months. Close your eyes and imagine that hockey stick graph going up, and the value you'd be getting out of it".

Once I was fortunate enough to work at a company that did not take VC money. I was very very lucky. It was a combination of luck, and ethical founders.

On the other hand, a VC funded company I worked for (Hampton Creek) seemed like a ponzi scheme. When I quit the options strike price was so expensive I couldn't afford to pay for the options nor the taxes to "gain", the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in value it was "worth". What a joke. I think in the end we will see a lot of these companies are loaded with red ink and offer very little value.

I venture to say a majority of these unicorns are pump-and-dump schemes.

Your intuition seems right. I remember a time when companies used their developers to update their site without having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

Once you understand what a pump-and-dump scheme is and how it works, you see the word with different eyes.

Do you have any links or a succinct explanation of how it works, then?

Pump & dump is roughly the following:

1) Be rich/famous enough for people to pay attention to what you do

2) Pump a bunch of resources into something (company, stocks, whatever)

3) Everyone concludes there must be value, because you're investing your own cash

4) Others start investing, increasing the value further

5) You sell (dump) your stake at the new price before everyone realises they've invested in something worthless.

Say you invest $1 million in $1 shares and the extra investment/interest from others raises the share price to $1.20, you sell everything and get $200k profit for no work. Everyone else is left holding shares which turn out to be worthless.

Read the book The wolf of the wall street. It is quite entertaining and describes the pump-and-dump scheme really well:


Steve Blank on the Tech Bubble: 'VCs Won't Admit They're in a Ponzi Scheme'




I've tried Reddit ads. Not only do they don't work, they invite backlash from Redditors.

And I say this as a heavy user of the site who knows exactly what kind of content formats work best on it.

We had the complete opposite experience - we ran a tiny ad buy when the platform had just opened up, and the effect was amazing. The community embraced us and for years afterwards, people shared it in comment threads throughout reddit.

You have to make something they want, and you have to engage with them in the comments section as a redditor. If they feel pandered to, it's going to backfire. I see a lot of ads on there that seem like try-hard pandering.

It's certainly more difficult to use well than most ad platforms, especially for bigger companies.

> It's certainly more difficult to use well than most ad platforms, especially for bigger companies.

I think this is going to be a big issue. Large advertisers want reach, not hyper-targeting a tiny sub with 3,000 subscribers.

While you can certainly make something that would appeal to, say, /r/edmproduction, would a large advertiser like P&G be able to create something for default subs (that have huge reach)?

I agree that it's going to be a big issue for Reddit if it wants to be a multi billion dollar company. If, on the other hand, it wanted to be a community site that pays to keep the servers running, it wouldn't be a problem.

That said, our ads weren't targeted at a sub, and they worked well.

I feel strongly that none of the VC investors in Reddit actually use Reddit regularly.

Totally agree. I've worked for several big corporations and they are extremely inefficient; as a software dev you could do nothing all day and nobody would say anything... I think sometimes it's actually better FOR THEM if you do nothing all day than add more code to the growing pile of over-engineered garbage that they're building (and which will need to be rewritten)...

Big companies are so entrenched in their over-engineered ways that they develop very low expectations about productivity.

I mean, if you look at Facebook; does anything actually change? No, it looks pretty much the same as last year - 5000 Facebook engineers working on it full time for a year and there is no noticeable, meaningful improvement.

I don't know if these big tech companies are hiring all these unnecessary software developers out of duty, for competitive advantage (just draining the talent pool) or what else but it definitely looks like a bubble.

Facebook can't really risk changing much to the frontend UI else risk alienating the millions of non-techies out there who use the site because their brothers, sisters, aunts, parents and grandparents are on it rather than because it is hip and trendy.

However there is always backend work that needs to be done: security updates, bug fixes, updating frameworks to work with newer tech, automation / pipelining improvements (since they are working on such a large scale), etc. And that's not even mentioning the business side of things like ads, moderation, etc.

> They are trying to sell it.

I think a more natural move would be to IPO. Since Steve Huffman stated that monetization is not a top priority, it won't be happening anytime soon.

Fun fact : they sold reddit in it's infancy and then later regained control. That sale didn't end well. Even if they do find a more savvy buyer like FB/Google , reduced founder control in a community driven website can't be a good thing. Having spent billions to acquire reddit, the new owner will likely begin to turn it into an advertising machine which has the potential to alienate the core userbase. On reddit, the core userbase is everything.

That's what they said about Facebook and Google ads. Reddit is a treasure trove of a user's information and tastes. People spend ridiculous amounts of time on it.

An IPO would end up like snapchat. Without solid $$$ growth, wall street will eat reddit for lunch. Much better to do sell it to Google / Facebook or the media companies.

There is absolutely no way whatsapp would been able to fetch it's valuation if it went IPO.

>>That sounds odd too me as well, maybe I am not versed in startup culture. Having a goal of going from 230 to 300 people seems like a pointless metric (and wasteful). It's like saying "I want to write 1000 lines of code today".

This one of those largely company things where bosses assert their authority and power in the organization based on the head count under them. So in many companies people hire extensively even if they absolutely don't have to.

The more people you have under you, the more you are considered powerful.

This phenomenon is just starting to happen at the company I work at. It's a great company in almost every dimension, but this particular problem is especially insidious and almost impossible to stop once it happens.

Every manager is encouraged to increase the number of people they manage. Managers in turn get disproportionate rewards compared to developers (such as offices -- not even the most senior ranking developers get offices, but the lowest ranking managers do), so developers are encouraged to go into management. Before long, the company is bloated with highly paid managers managing managers, top-skill developers no longer developing, and the supposed dual technical track is hardly anything except a bullet point on some other manager's resume.

>> The company has about 230 employees, up from around 140 at the beginning of the year. Huffman would like to end 2017 with around 300 full-time staff.

> That sounds odd too me as well, maybe I am not versed in startup culture. Having a goal of going from 230 to 300 people seems like a pointless metric (and wasteful). It's like saying "I want to write 1000 lines of code today".

I understand this criticism but I think the intent behind their statement is different from the intent you're reading into it.

It sounds like you think they're using it as some kind of empire building management metric (I might be wrong). ie. 300 people and well be a great company! As you say that'd be pretty stupid and so I doubt that. Here's my guess: the headcount number is by product of a broader growth plan. ie. We need to get to X revenues, or scale to X users, or build Y products in Z months which means we need to hire X engineers, Y marketers, Z salespeople in a certain time frame.. add all that up and that means we need 300 people by the end of 2017.

The reason it gets boiled down to 300 is two-fold: 1) It's just hard to get a journalist to be interested in that kind of considered detail & much easier for journalists to remember that one number 2) It's actually still a good signal in an ultra-competitive hiring market. ("you bet we're hiring!, we have lot's of jobs openings! didn't you here we're looking for 100's of people, come and help build that site that you already spend half day on")

300 as a management metric = no sense; 300 as by product of growth plan, headline grabbing takeaway, beacon to potential talent = better.

Good. Its about time for reddit to wither enough for a more user focused platform yo take it place.

Its the ol model I see time and time again. Site pulls in users by being generally awesome and doing things like not advertising, not censoring, etc. Then the site grows. Businesses start astroturfing because they can't advertise. Then the company slowly starts walking back on everything that made it special, for example, advertising, all while rapidly expanding the personell while hardly doing anything to improve the site for users. Aaaand right when advertising dollars are the best, try to capitalize or take public, followed by a big sale/buyout, and finally within finite time users feel betrayed and it withers and dies, but not until a competitor starts where they did, and usually follows the same path.

I stopped participating in reddit about the time sockpuppetry really started killing my favorite sub's, and personally I think the first and most greiveous mistake was moving away from text only.

The problem as it stands is none of the competitors stand out. I think hn is best, but scope is limited, /. does something's interesting but failed and lost its user base. Voat is too much of a reddit clone, and I just don't get the appeal of steemit etc.

Personally, we need to sit down and figure a better way to measure user worth. Right now I am leaning to a Slashdot style moderation/tagging system, along with a limited input per user at varying thresholds. Something that really interests be is automating logical maps of comments too.

> Huffman’s plan for the new funding includes a redesign of reddit.com — the company is literally re-writing all of its code, some of which is more than a decade old. An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline: A never-ending feed of content broken up into “cards” with more visuals to lure people into the conversations hidden underneath.

this sounds risky for a couple reasons. I hope this is a bit hyperbolic and they are only referring to the frontend. But anyway: rewriting everything from scratch is a monumental undertaking and can delay other important enhancements. Rewriting everything partially contributed to Netscape falling behind its competitors[1] and eventually to its irrelevance. The other reason it is risky is that maybe the site's simple and functional design is what made them so successful in the first place?

[1] https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/04/06/things-you-should-...

The announcement on Reddit also says they are changing their privacy policy to remove support for 'Do Not Track' https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/6qptzw/with_...

What they mean is DNT is not respected by the advertisers and hence supporting it is not leading anywhere. See this post https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/6qptzw/with_... , they suggest using an adblocker.

I would also suggest using Privacy Badger from EFF.

That seems pretty evil, especially given the justification:

> DNT is a nice idea, but without buy-in from the entire ecosystem, its impact is limited. In place of DNT, we're adding in new, more granular privacy controls that give you control over how Reddit uses any data we collect about you.

What does it hurt to keep supporting it? It's actually pretty ironic: "DNT doesn't have total support across ecosystems, so we stopped supporting it".

Twitter did the same thing recently.

Might as well, it's basically useless. Very few sites support it, major ad networks instead have an opt out [1] that nobody knows about and if you block 3rd party cookies, isn't relevant anyway. Blocking trackers remains the end user's prerogative.

[1] http://preferences-mgr.truste.com/ (one of many such opt-outs)

I've always been surprised that Reddit hasn't had many trackers - basically just Google Analytics and Doubleclick. Especially since their parent company is so heavily into tracking on news sites.

It will be a real shame if they start gunking it up with trackers - many news sites are basically unusable without ad blocking.

While concerning and something to be aware about, they are offering granular privacy settings in place of DNT.

Will they be opt-out? You betcha! Still, at least they exist...

Seen a few comments focus on the "redesign" and comparisons to Digg, and wanted to add a few comments:

1. People may forget, but Reddit was a (the?) major winner in the Digg exodus.

2. I don't think Digg every got the subreddit style discussion boards down. I think the reddit "homepage experience" vs. the typical subreddit experience to be very different. Should be interesting to see which way they slide for the redesign.

3. The influx of new capital and the focus on the redesign sort of telegraphs that they want to grow reddit, which is a very large but idiosyncratic community.

If they do it right, the change will be very transparent and very incremental, ala the ebay background color change [1].

Should be an interesting thing to watch!

[1] https://articles.uie.com/death_of_relaunch/

There is a common misconception that Digg's failure was what pushed Reddit into the mainstream, but the truth is that Digg was on the decline and reddit on the rise long before the redesign.


True, but your data also supports the view that the redesign hastened Digg's death, and seems to correlate with increased growth at Reddit.

I.e., Reddit was doing something right, and Digg was shrinking. The Digg redesign fiasco accelerated both trends.

I won't argue that, but I think the trend data makes a convincing case that Reddit's rise and Digg's demise were inevitable, regardless of Digg's redesign failure.

Perhaps. Had they handled the redesign correctly, things may have turned out differently. It was a perfect storm of design, technology and technology failure...

But.. but I began to like Reddit. Now they want to take it away from me by destroying it.

> It’s going on a hiring spree


> redesigning its website

For no reason other than giving the unnecessary people from the hiring spree something to do.

> Huffman would like to end 2017 with around 300 full-time staff

The current number of 230 employees is already about ten times too many. What the hell do they need the additional staff for?

> The company is also not profitable.

Doesn't need to be because it could be run by ten people living off of donations.

For a site with the kind of traffic Reddit has from as many locales as reddit has, 10 people wouldn't even be enough to comfortably cover basic SRE requirements. Forget new features, they would literally spend all of their time just barely keeping the damn thing working. Their would be no admins. No Secret Santa, nor any of the various many things Reddit currently has that requires the support, and more importantly trust, that comes with a full time employee/contact.

Sure, could they do it? Absolutely. But I'd bet a large sum on money that they'd do so poorly.

Also it's important to note that whether you like it or not Reddit is and always has been a business. Being profitable isn't the most important thing right now for reasons, but somehow i doubt investors would be ok with them just punting on the issue forever. They rightly expect a return.

I assumed that 10-20 people would not include anyone who ever physically touches a server. Now that I think about it, it might make sense to not outsource hardware issues at Reddit's scale. I don't know how many people you need to keep Reddit running, but more than a hundred sounds wrong for such a basic web site.

I don't need Secret Santa and no support. What kind of trust do you mean?

> basic web site

... basic web site with a hundred thousand communities, gigabytes of images uploaded daily, millions of votes a day, 1.5 billion pageviews a month...

Also, reddit is a business, not just a website. They don't only hire engineers.

>basic web site

Thats kinda simplistic. Setting aside the fact that reddit is much more complicated than it appears at first glance...

I don't care how simple the site is, being the number 5 most visited site in the US[1], kinda comes with some SRE and infrastructure challenges.

[1] http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/US

> but more than a hundred sounds wrong for such a basic web site.

Reddit is not a basic web site though. It doesn't have static content. Almost every page is dynamically generated for each logged in user, of which there are hundreds of millions. That is the total opposite of 'basic'.

I would be ok if Reddit stopped doing silly things like Secret Santa, Arbitrary Day, and [other random gift day].

Reddit used to be a place I could go to see topics re: Science, Tech, the Internet, and gadgets. It was the network where my friends weren't - and that felt cool like I was a part of an exclusive club. Things like the April fools pranks: Place/Chat/Button - those are what make Reddit special.

Now all my friends are on Reddit and we send each other links - which is also nice. But I miss the exclusivity and with the loss of it comes a dilution of content to meet the lowest common denominator of entertainment transmissions.

Reddit was a lot more authentic before it started functioning as a community group (ie: "redditors").

> The current number of 230 employees is already about ten times too many. What the hell do they need the additional staff for?

What Alexa top ten site have you run off a crew barely large enough to field a softball game?

> The current number of 230 employees is already about ten times too many. What the hell do they need the additional staff for?

how so?

> Doesn't need to be because it could be run by ten people living off of donations.

really? really?? how so?

I would love to see reddit being more like a wikipedia than a facebook. If they cut the sales team out and ask for donations like WP does, they would do just fine. I was on reddit before I was registered on FB and quite frankly I love reddit.com way more than FB for many reasons. It's a shame that they go down the hypergrowth-unicorn model.

While I would love this and ultimately believe it would be the best route for Reddit, there is just too much advertising potential for people to not want to throw money at it.

The "reddit hug of death" is a term that was coined because of how much traffic a front page hit could deliver - to the point where it crashed the server or over-exceeded bandwidth capacity for sites.

The issue is that I don't see a lot of potential where investing money into Reddit that helps the users, only the advertisers, which makes their announcements seem extremely patronizing as they try to convince Reddit users why it is better for them.

> ask for donations like WP does

Isn't that what reddit gold is?

I usually like to pay for a premium account on other sites even if I wouldn't have to, but for some reason I don't do it on Reddit. In hindsight, my gut feeling was right, because they are in fact backstabbing butts in seats who sell out to greedy investors at first opportunity. Rich assholes who think they can make another Facebook are the easy way to get a "hiring spree". Gold was the slow and horribly marketed way.

I think twitter might fall into the same category as well. They form a sort of crucial social infrastructure. If they can't be supported by ads while maintaining their integrity, it may be important to keep them around through some other means.

>An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline: A never-ending feed of content broken up into “cards” with more visuals to lure people into the conversations hidden underneath.

Not sure why this UX concept needs to be applied to every kind of interface nowadays.

I think Reddit's current interface could be updated visually without changing its simplicity.

>content broken up into “cards” with more visuals to lure people

The reasons I left Digg for Reddit were the information density and the ease of rapid browsing. Eliminating those in favor of "cards" is incredibly short-sighted.

I would not be surprised if they shift everyone to the new view but allow users to switch back to the old style via preferences.

I would be.

It sounds like they're rewriting the whole front end. Why would they want to spend time and effort doing that and then, in addition to continually tweaking/adding to it, also maintaining a legacy interface?

But most users aren't even logged in.

Customization can help prevent a short-term backlash from the most engaged users, but whatever they choose as the default is what they will live or die by.

Maybe even just some better default CSS, like r/LifeProTips is very pleasing to look at and still has the great “Reddit Feel”

Looking past the visual design, I think a more pressing question is what will happen to the API? From my perspective, it is Reddit's saving grace. It bridges the gap between available functionality and what moderators and users actually need. I personally run about ~30kloc of Python code against reddit 24/7, mostly to aid moderation of subreddits. This codebase has grown organically over the years, and truth be told, a major API change will require a major investment in my end. That is my own fault, for sure, but I know several other developers in the same boat.

Breaking the API will take away essential functionality from a very wide range of communities, moderators and users alike. Can they do a complete front- and back-end rewrite and still maintain a backwards-compatible API? If not, I am out, because a rewrite is simply way too much work.

edit: typo

I couldn't imagine a more futile investment. Reddit users are notoriously combatant. Ads on reddit have extraordinarily low CTRs. After bumbling around for the last ten years, reddit still doesn't know dollars from doge and is burning cash on ridiculous side projects like its gift exchange and its (already discontinued) entrepreneurship mini-series.

I hope this redesign does not turn into a LinkedIn style disaster. Sometimes I wonder if these redesigns happen not for some well-argued business purpose but for overinflated departments having to justify their existence (which I strongly suspected in the case of LinkedIn's redesign which made the site unusable for months).

I am not sure discussion sites like Slashdot, Reddit can run or scale as businesses. And retain credibility with the majority of their users.

As founder run sites with income to sustain the site it works but the moment founders become 'distant' and obsessed with commercial objectives the site sort of loses its focus and there is a slow decline.

Reddit only took off because it as seen an low key non-commercial alternative to the 'over commercial' Digg. Now it doesn't have that feel anymore and this can only end badly.

Even HN is not a profit making site, but delivers value to ycombinator outside of that.

Reddit, after the great Digg exodus:

> You chose to grow with venture capital and you’ve no doubt (I hope) taken some money off the table in your Series C round. I say this because this new version of digg reeks of VC meddling. It’s cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to “give the power back to the people.”

Honestly, how do you monetize Reddit? I'm curious what ideas they supposedly have. The crowd is too tech savvy to just throw more ads on it. They run ad blockers, and if you get aggressive like news sites do, the exodus will begin. It just seems like a community with little loyalty to the site itself, and distrust of obvious commercialization.

Feels like a large general discussion service like Reddit isn't the sort of thing that should be a for-profit company at all. And the same with other community-centric sites like GitHub.

These sorts of massive Internet community-curated stores of information would in an ideal world be community supported as well, like Wikipedia. And they also wouldn't (in an ideal world) be under threat of changing radically or disappearing entirely at any moment.

Maybe we need something like the UK's television tax. An Internet tax that pays for public service sites with no advertising and no corporate interest. Add that to the TODO list after world peace.

For reference, I feel the reddit post is significantly better:


A company as old as Reddit should be profitable.

They were ran by a skeleton crew for a few years after they were initially acquired by Advanced.

I think Reddit is on track to becoming hugely successful and completely irrelevant.

I don't get why a company who keeps the entire Internet talking on a daily basis is only worth less than $2B but a company that lets teens take snaphots and share them is worth many billions.

You don't understand? It's like this: valuation is based off how many users x how much each user is worth (in terms of targeted advertising).

Reddit has a lot of users but it's hard to build user profiles for targeted advertising as there's a lot of anonymity and shot posting.

Teen snapshot sites are worth more because because its real people, posting real things. That data is valuable.

I feel that reddit has enough data to effectively target ads. If I subscribe to /r/cars, chances are I like cars (if I make a post asking "What is the best car to buy for $X?" I'm probably in the market for a new car). If I post in a city subreddit, chances are I live there. If I post in /r/programming, I'm probably a programmer. There are also third-party analyzers that can take a reddit user's data and give a pretty good guess of their demographics based on their public post history as well.

I feel that if someone were to target ads to me based on the subreddits that I subscribe to, they'd be far more relevant to my interests than Facebook ads. Facebook shows me clickbait spam that my friends liked; I almost never see any interesting ads there. Reddit certainly has more advertiser friendly information than Snap does. On Snapchat, you share photos with your friends and Snap knows nothing about you other than your location. Reddit on the other hand has confirmed interests.

Because companies are valued in dollars, not social utility units.

$SNAP is down nearly 50% from its IPO. We'll see where its valuation really settles.

That's seems like a very low valuation for a site that heavily trafficked.

What is their average time-on-site statistic I wonder, i'd expect it to be much higher than most other websites.

Can anybody name a successful ground-up redesign of a popular website? Or a successful from-scratch rewrite of a heavily used codebase?

I recall twitter's early rewrite going pretty well. The "fail whale" was a real big deal before that. They went from notoriously poor uptime to being on par with facebook.

But that was a rewrite of the backend which was very needed. The design didn't change.

Although I agree, Reddit desperately needs a rewrite of its backend.

Basecamp is the only one I can think of - https://signalvnoise.com/posts/3856-the-big-rewrite-revisite...

The Facebook newsfeed.

A lot of comments have dealt with the general idea of a redesign - but I haven't seen much on the specifics.

I would like to point out the twitter/facebook feed style as described is difficult to replicate, because with reddit, seeing the title of the post helps contextualize it so much. Without the title, many posts become meaningless because you can't guess the subreddit that the post is from - and a meme/gif in one subreddit can mean something much different than a meme in another.

Oh god. I had the pleasure of seeing one of their new executives speak. An ex-Microsoft guy.

I won't be surprised at all when they alienate their userbase with a pointless redesign that adds nothing of substance.

The kinds of people that are working at Reddit now are the kinds of people who are not creative and incapable of creating something original. They are the kinds of people who join a tech company solely to ride off the coat tails of those who came before them with original ideas and substance.

Naturally, since they don't understand the original desire and intent they are not able to contribute anything new or original. So how they contribute is instead by a route redesign of something that already exists.

Redesigns are generally not about improving upon something that was there before. They are a political process for who can get control over something popular that someone already made.

Interesting. Im super worried a redesign will kill the site.

However, at the same time (after thinking about it), I can see it as a necessary step.

Without a redesign it'll be hard for them to implement a way to make money. I assume, that is also how they increased the valuation; by promising increased profits.

I hope reddit have a strategy for implementing that change gracefully and how to deal with the most noisy opponents. I have helped a lot of companies redesign their communnities/forums/products. Its a serious minefield as a lot of people will protest (but most wil cope). even small changes can throw people into revolution mode. And its most often not the actual design which will get people complaining but the change itself. going to be very interesting to see how this will play out.

Others have commented "they are doing a Digg" and asking whats the new Reddit. The better question is do you want to be the next site to replace Reddit? I don't think social news sites are sustainable at all. Reddit used to play the game to avoid becoming Digg and keeping its user base happy. It didn't seem to be profitable or profitable enough for their investors so they are forced to broaden the user base by any means possible.

I don't know if this is commonplace but i'm intrigued by these valuations. Anybody have link to the actual valuation? What method was used?

When I talked with Alexis Ohanian (after his talk at Google), I asked him about the switch from Common Lisp years ago. I assume the rewrite will not be in CL! He is a very nice guy and his feelings for social responsibility came through nicely in his talk.

I find Reddit one of the most valuable web sites I use, covering news and tech interests. I wish them well on the infrastructure refresh.

>An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline: A never-ending feed of content broken up into “cards” with more visuals to lure people into the conversations hidden underneath.

So they are doing same mistakes as Digg. Interesting.

>>the company is literally re-writing all of its code > > Wow.

Good to know they are "literally" re-writing code instead of "figuratively". Why is the adverb "literally" overused so often?


I'm really curious at what their cap table looks like at this point in time. With the various ownership rejiggerings by Conde Nast, and this and Sam's last round, wonder who has the power here

surprised the valuation is so low for a top 5 destination (per alexa).

Likely because of their lack of profit despite being so highly ranked.

Personally, other than FB I can't think of a site I visit more often than reddit. Whether at home, on the bus or just sitting on the couch, it's the site I know I can open and find some useful content.

With the amount of engagement they have, they should be making more money.

Ugh, trying to fix marketing issues with more engineering....

Wow, complete redesign? Sounds dangerous. Why dont they make incremental changes and ab-test the impact?

Anyone know what Reddit's DAU is? This will help us give more context as to revenue potential.

Is all of the money going to the company, or is some of it going to cash out existing shareholders?

I'm way more interested if they create their own digital asset than the money they raised.

I want Usenet newsgroups back.

Either you die Young as a Digg, or live long enough to become Reddit.

But according to that statement, Digg lived long enough to become a Reddit?

Digg wasn't Batman. Point. On topic Digg didn't survive the wrath of voting rings. They stopped using it. That irioncally killed it.

By voting rings I meant that were promoting real 'amusing' stuff to pile up banner ads CPM revenue. They invested a lot in 'amusing stuff' and as well as keeping Digg alive.

Also Reddit is alive because of them, they play by the rules, who is gonna invest billions of hours to keep Reddit active without any kind of reward in return ... Rewaeds could be depending on the sub Reddit you run.

Reminds me of digg.com Gl hf reddit execs.

Why does it take $200M to do these things?

I came here to say something about Digg but there are already 70 references to Digg in the comments.

well, good news for the HN community!

start your engines, reddit will do what so many user-driven content sites have done - light themselves on fire. slashdot, digg, they never learn.

yes, the network effect is a huge moat. but then you actively alienate your users and then it goes FAST.

good luck to the aspiring entrepreneurs going after this opportunity.

don't even need a strong business plan, not like you can make any real money - but you'll get funding for years to come :)

Reddit or 4chan, decisions, decisions.

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