Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ben Huh offers to buy Reddit (thedailywh.at)
114 points by ssclafani on Aug 28, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments



Is this guy actually in a position to follow through or is he just cleverly using the controversy to further his own goal without an actual intent to commit? I take it reddit would not be sold for 'pocket change'.


This wired article mentions that he likely did something close to $4M in revenue a year ago:

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/01/mf_cheezking/

If this is the sole source of income, then I doubt that they're in any position to afford Reddit. Although they definitely have the investor connections to probably roll it up.


That Wired article mentioned that Cheezburger Network did 'over 200MM pageviews a month', so with $4MM in revenue for the year that's an RPM of well north of $1.50. Seriously, that's stellar given the quality of the inventory.

Given that, I'm sure they could make a lot of money with Reddit - buying it would be a sound investment.



MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


So it seems.


I suspect Ben Huh is _definitely_ in a position to follow through.


I agree. I worked at Cheezburger until a few months ago I know (and like) Ben pretty well.

I'm sure that neither Cheezburger nor Ben have enough in the bank to make CN a decent offer for Reddit, but he has investors with deep pockets, the media loves him, and even though he's not universally loved in internet culture circles, he's probably more popular than CN. He could raise the funds.

Now, is this a good idea for anyone? I really don't think so, but that hasn't ever stopped Ben before.


Interesting development. Well, I'll put my $5 in the hat and say it goes nowhere but you never know, weirder things have happened.

Thanks for the inside view!


I agree, I don't think it's going anywhere.


Considering that Bebo just got bought for ~10M, it wouldn't surprise me to see CN do something similar. If someone could buy Reddit for 5-8M then it would be a pretty good deal at that price. There are plenty of ways to monetize the site, there are just a few pieces that are missing before that can really happen.


Good, so how come he didn't follow protocol on this? After all, after such a stunt CN is likely going to give him the cold shoulder just for that. I can't imagine they're happy about this if he's for real.

The redditors have been at odds with CN pretty much since day 5 of the take over or so, and every time I hear about them it's something like this.

If they were going to dump reddit you'd think they would have done so long ago.


I'm guessing that he thinks if it continues like this CN is going to start actively looking to divest themselves of Reddit.

By posting like this he's making it even worse for them in terms of publicity so there is a good chance they'll want to do so more.

The two outcomes in this situation seem to be:

A) The nature of the offer and the awkward position it puts CN in causes them to take a lower offer sooner than they might otherwise.

B) Offer never amounts to anything beyond a bit of free publicity for a few of Ben Huh's sites.

So in either case Ben Huh comes out ahead and didn't have to invest masses of time in "serious" dealing that might have lead to him getting Reddit but for a higher price.


That's a good explanation.

I figure if Conde Nast is going to sell reddit they'll want a premium compared to what they paid for it, given the growth of reddit that could be a substantial premium.

I believe they paid something like 12.5 million (But I've also seen much higher figures, also unsubstantiated).

So my guess is that if they do want to divest they'll sound out the higher segment of the market first to see if there are any takers.


Being in a position to follow through and intending to follow through are frequently unrelated things. I agree that this is clearly intended as a publicity stunt. However the better positioned he is to carry through on the stunt if they come back to him, the more effective the stunt is.


Protocol? You have a straight face while you're saying this? Protocol? As in, Wall St. & Main St. acquisitions and takeovers protocol?

Seriously? You sure you don't want to delete that? It's on google, searchable, people might remember you said that. It's pretty funny. They might laugh.


Yes, I'm pretty sure I don't want to delete that. If you are serious about a takeover the first thing that would be smart is to not alienate the selling party by some dick move, such as blowing wide open your so-called quiet approach. That way the party you've approached no longer has the option to tell you quietly to go away. This is likely to piss them off, which is not going to work to your advantage, even if there is another episode to the whole thing.

Remember that it is the seller that has something the buyer apparently wants (he's the one approaching).

off-topic, but even if I were wrong, which I really don't think I am, I would still not delete that because I think that deleting stuff just because you 'might be wrong' is a stupid move, it makes everybody that replied in the thread look like an idiot.

I'd rather be wrong and learn than to be wrong and pretend I didn't say something. What's so bad about being wrong?

What's really funny here is that you, anonymous coward are suggesting that I do something dishonorable. Why don't you flesh out your profile a bit and we'll see if you stand by your words just as much as I do.


I'm not sure why you'd respond to rhetorical flair with more straight-faced explanations, perhaps the same reason you think there's protocol to acquisitions and takeovers (edit: there's not, well, as much as love & war.)

Conde Nast just embarrassed themselves with a large portion of their customers, and not just the ones at reddit. Cheezeburger guy jumps in with a brilliant move, and you question protocol and additionally seem upset if he's not actually expecting them to sell to him.

And hardly an anonymous coward here, just following corporate protocol of our culture and keeping my job.

Edit: Yes, yes, I know that their real customers are advertisers, and of course that's why they did it. That thinking misses the point that if there are no readers then there are no advertisers. Or if there is lower reader trust and esteem then there is similarly low advertiser trust and esteem. Jus sayin for the nitpickers who miss the wider point otherwise, poor habit that.


> I'm not sure why you'd respond to rhetorical flair with more straight-faced explanations, perhaps the same reason you think there's protocol to acquisitions and takeovers.

The fact that you think there is not means that you're just a poser pretending to be in the know. A party like Conde Nast may not be popular with the reddit crowd but to pretend they're just a bunch of clowns that would be swayed by a jerk move like this is simply stupid. If you think that there is no protocol to buying a business of this size try to take over even a very small website by announcing publicly that you are 'in talks' before receiving your first answer. Then you can tell me how well it worked.

> Conde Nast just embarrassed themselves with a large portion of their customers, and not just the ones at reddit.

Not really, Conde Nast has different priorities than reddit. This is unfortunate for reddit but then they should have done better research on who they were selling to. They differ in opinion on a lot of things, I would call it a 'rocky marriage' at least and possibly there are by now grounds for divorce. But overall I think the reddit guys have been creative enough to work their way around the rough edges and Conde Nast has behaved like a rather reluctant parent. It reminds me very much of the winamp takeover by AOL.

> Cheezeburger guy jumps in with a brilliant move,

What's brilliant about it? Offering to buy them out? If figure that if you're serious about something like that you go about it the diplomatic way, not the cowboy way. Unless of course you don't really want a deal.

But, maybe pigs can fly, and maybe you are right. But I highly doubt it.

I get approached on average 3 times per year to 'sell my company', I can tell just by the way in which I'm approached if someone is serious or not. And even if they are serious, we usually just end up chatting for a bit and then we both go our ways. If such a party would announce their intent in the media before sounding me out they might as well forget about approaching, especially if they're not nearly as well known as either the acquisition target or the seller. Then it looks like they're trying to gain publicity over my back.

> and you question protocol and additionally seem upset if he's not actually expecting them to sell to him.

Yep. It wastes bandwidth and gives this guy airtime that he shouldn't have. Unless, of course he really is serious and just hasn't figured out how to handle a situation like this. But as it is it just looks like a rather stupid ploy to get their attention in a negative way. The redditors (the subject of the sale here) must be wondering right now if it would be possible to find an even worse buyer than CN.

> And hardly an anonymous coward here, just following corporate protocol of our culture and keeping my job.

That's what I said. So you don't stand by your words after all. Just imagine your boss would read your writings, you might want to delete them, right? And your job is in M&A?


>>> The fact that you think there is not means that you're just a poser pretending to be in the know.

Ah, yes, name calling, that will do it.

>>> but to pretend they're just a bunch of clowns that would be swayed by a jerk move like this is simply stupid

What, who, me? I'm pretending they would?

>>> by announcing publicly that you are 'in talks' before receiving your first answer

Wha...huh...business news...oh nevermind.

>>> Then you can tell me how well it worked.

Hurray! Some rhetorical flair! Now we're talking.

>>> Conde Nast has behaved like a rather reluctant parent. It reminds me very much of the winamp takeover by AOL.

Interest contrast between your expectations and sympathy for behavior of big business versus a little guy with a popgun (in the populist mind, that is). I'm sure you don't really feel the way implied or rather left out here, which is my point.

>>> What's brilliant about it?

A. publicity (do I really need to say that?)

B. maybe he'll luck out and they'll actually sell (I doubt it but who knows)

C. signaling. intentionality to purchase large web assets (perhaps something new for him, I'm not sure, I haven't followed the Cheezeburger business in the past couple years)

Takeovers and acquisitions is a signaling game.

>>> It wastes bandwidth

Populist uprising doesn't necessarily rule out participation of business leaders. In fact, it often needs their help. Didn't waste my bandwidth, quite enjoyable really, too bad it wasted yours.

(Edit, wait a sec, waste bandwidth? You're on a roll with lot of value judgments dude so this one slipped by me, quite off really. Popular though, gotta say that for ya, but then again the Tea Party is pretty popular too so doesn't mean that much.)

>>> The redditors (the subject of the sale here) must be wondering right now if it would be possible to find an even worse buyer than CN

The must huh?

>>> That's what I said. So you don't stand by your words after all. Just imagine your boss would read your writings, you might want to delete them, right?

There's no point arguing with this one, you'd like to think your experience and assumptions fit my situation, but sorry, nope. The rest, fine, but you should be ashamed of yourself for this part.

Edit: I'm tempted to go back and count all the explicit and implied value judgments, logical fallacies, positions clearly based on your economic conditions or ideals. And it would be quite fun to ride through a deconstruction of your own condition compared with that of your ideals and opinions...but why oh why,


(I've been censored by the majority, or at least some people. My first comment fine, it was hyperbole but I like flair and more importantly I stand by my opinion on the issue and I think a quick perusal through business headlines will bear me out. But my approach was strong, I felt my reaction matched the outrageousness of the OP's comment, but I may have been wrong about that, I am certainly looking at that possibility.

(But for the subsequent comments which I made I ask you to consider whether this system is working when it blocks actual dissenting opinion rather than trolling which this most certainly is not. Certainly people may not like the opinions and my dissent from what may be more widespread views, but as I understand that's not the purpose of this rating system.)


> I've been censored

No, you haven't. Yes, your comment has been downvoted on HN but that's not censorship.


Look, we can sit here and argue semantics or we can get out a dictionary. I did, did you? How about responding to my question rather than something inaccurate.


The broadest definition of censorship is the suppression of expression, which hasn't happened. (The standard definition requires govt activity.)

In other words, this is yet another example of you mis-stating things and doubling down when that's pointed out. You then retreat to baseless emotional pleas.

You'd like a good argument and there are good arguments. However, that doesn't imply that any of said good arguments apply to your situation.

WRT the the "purpose" of HN's rating system and whether you're being unfairly treated, PG seems to think that it's working just fine. An appeal to authority is valid in this case because HN is his playpen. No, it doesn't matter how you think that the HN rating system works.


Please don't use CN as shorthand in these comments as it's short for both Conde Nast and Cheezburger Network.

- on behalf of the Society for the Elimination of Ambiguity.


CN > CN


am I the only redditor that doesn't want this guy to buy the site?

CN may be bad, but this guy isn't exactly the epitome of professionalism

(edit: also not sure if the reddit guys will be up for both cheeseburger owners and cheeseburger wages: http://gawker.com/5488509/inside-the-low+paying-cheezburger-...)


Disclaimer: I worked at Cheezburger, I know and love Ben. He doesn't appear to the epitome of professionalism, but that's part of his shtick as "the zany lolcat guy". He's actually a remarkable guy in a lot of ways. As arrogant as this may sound, he's one of the few people I've ever known who could take my ideas and reliably make them better. He's said some stupid things on his blog, but that's just a part of life.

The gawker article was pure tabloid junk, quoting anonymous sources who were disgruntled ex-employees. Compensation was always at market rates, entry-level positions had entry-level pay, while professional positions had professional pay.

He's not perfect, he's young and is still making mistakes (I still think firing me was a big mistake, for example, but I can't really talk about that) but don't discount his professionalism.


It is reasonably impressive to find someone who can leave the people he fires talking about how great he is.


Yeah, that bit made me double take the content of what he was writing. Before it just seemed like a fanboy, now, it seems quite genuine. Of course, that could be the best troll ever too :)


Judging from the quantity of ads on his websites, no.


It would be interesting to see what changes they would make, that is if any, I'm sure they would though.


Conde Nast isn't all fairies and rainbows. And we are on HN, hangout of cheezeburger wannabes everywhere.



nodex posted this in that thread: "I would hate to see it get done the wrong way though and become hyper-commercialized and end up being an ad laden site with only pictures of cats..."

Eerily prophetic I fear, if this Ben Huh guy gets his hands on reddit.


Yeah, he's the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen to the site.


Reddit would benefit from more resources and less corporate interference. We can offer all of the above.

How does working in the sweatshop that is the Cheezburger Network = less coporate interference?

Edit for clarification: http://www.google.com/search?q=cheezburger+network+sweatshop


Heh, I was wondering why I was getting a bunch of traffic on that article all of a sudden. (My article's the top result on that query.)

That said, though, he pays minimum wage for work that for all effective purposes requires a college degree. And he stands behind that as if it's sound policy. (See here, though I'm sure it's posted elsewhere in this thread: http://www.benhuh.com/2010/02/02/are-you-what-you-earn-compe... )

Let's be clear: It's nowhere near as bad as what sites like Examiner.com and Demand Media do. If anything, it's part of a bad, disturbing trend.

EDIT to be a bit more evenhanded


If he truly believes that advertising high wages leads to bad candidates, then why advertise wages at all? It seems to me that if you are offering wages that low, you will end up with a bunch of candidates who don't think very highly of their abilities. That isn't the sort of environment I would want to be a part of.

I, for one, wouldn't work for near minimum-wage, but that isn't because I have an inability to control my expenses [1] or I don't believe I could work my way from Jr. Developer to Sr. Developer. I wouldn't work for that because I expect my employer to respect me and my abilities, and an offer that low would be, quite frankly, an insult. I've invested a lot of time and effort to get to where I am, and I expect any potential employer to recognize that. If they didn't recognize that, why hire me at all?

[1]: I could roughly continue living my life at the wages he posted ($8.55-$10/hr).


I agree that Huh's theory is misguided. I wouldn't apply for those lowball rates either and I strongly dislike people that seek candidates for minimum wage. Even if the posted wage is a fakeout, it's a horrible idea because there are actually a _lot_ of people who want professionals for basically nothing and have no respect for the profession they are trying to find, and it's not like you can distinguish the intent behind the posted wage, and there are lots of people out there who believe that collecting only $10/hr in pay, no matter what job, would be an unhappy situation.

Huh posits that lower wages make better candidates because they care more about the work and enjoyment than the money. Well, that only works if you can afford to work for minimum wage. An important part of being happy with a job -- probably one of the most important -- is receiving compensation adequate to supply the needs AND wants of you and your family. Even if you could make an argument that the needs of a person and his dependents could be met with $8.55/hr, which I think would be pretty difficult, there'd be no money left over for wants or leisure. And after a hard day slaving for minimum wage, I think that's important, anyway.


I'm curious, why Cheezburger Network is a sweatshop? Any experience first hand? or employees there blog about how sucky the company is?


I worked at Cheezburger until a few months ago. Here's the deal with the sweatshop charges. It comes down to three items.

1. Disgruntled ex-employees are disgrunted. 2. Entry-level positions are entry-level. 3. Sleazy tabloids are sleazy.

While I worked there (as an experienced developer, not a fresh-out-of-college content moderator) I was a "real" employee (not contract) and I made a very decent wage, especially considering it's at least nominally a tech startup. (I wouldn't describe it as a tech startup but that's a different story).


You really did work at CN, given that accent/logic.

restating the hypothesis == proof. I love it.


Thanks for noticing.


I don't know myself, but the article has this link in the comments:

http://gawker.com/5488509/inside-the-low+paying-cheezburger-...

and that post has this comment:

http://gawker.com/comment/20269906/

shrug


It's a tabloid site of Nick Denton's so it must be true. Heh.


He's probably got it in his mind that CN would be willing to dump it for $3 million or some other low ball number.

Reddit was purchased for something like $15 million. I doubt they'd sell it for less than $30 million (if at all). This guy is just tilting at windmills.


I'm not sure, CN seems fundamentally unable to figure out how to make Reddit into a profitable venture. It wouldn't be the first startup purchased by a large corporate entity to be sold off for less than the initial purchase price.


But reddit has grown enormously in that time. So the potential has grown as well, the fact that CN can't make it work is not going to stop some other party from trying very hard.

What's interesting is that they can't monetize it at this traffic level, even with only four employees.


He also offered to buy my reasonably successful blog for $200. True story.


Reminds me of the weekly offers I get for ww.com: "I see that you are not using your domain and we were wondering if you would sell it. We can offer you [insert 5 random figures here] and we would like to use escrow.com please reply asap."

[delete].


For their benefit i must admit i would have thought ww.com is some parked domain-squatter from a cursory glance if I didn't know better :)

The design looks a bit similar to a lot of these types of parked domains.


How so? That homepage has a 1% bouncerate...


White background, very minimal, just a bunch of text and some links- none of that is bad of course, it's just that my brain has been condition to interpret these cues as a parked domain that I reached because of a typo.

Quick examples:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_61OWU2tC3nY/SbOgGfx01eI/AAAAAAAAAj...

http://blogoscoped.com/files/google-parked-domain-screenshot...

http://www.donmak.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/g...

http://www.apogee-web-consulting.com/images/rumcakes-ads.jpg

http://gopgle.com/


That's food for thought. Thanks, I never looked at it through your eyes so it's hard to figure out what someone else sees as a 'first impression'.

I'm actually working with someone on improving the site, I'll definitely pass this on.


This is a joke, I assume.

Do you use Red5 for ww?


No, they're deadly serious (they think).

It's a variation on wowza.


All web entrepreneurs hurry up before the controversy dies. You too can profit from this mess up.


Pretty cheap, really. If you're serious about an acquisition you first approach the target and if you both agree to go public you go public. Anything else is just a publicity stunt, or at a minimum smells strongly like one.


Well, this is getting very interesting.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: