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Apollo will close down on June 30th (reddit.com)
3421 points by timf 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 1609 comments

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For other recent threads on this topic, brace yourself and go to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36251707.

This makes me indescribably sad.

Apart from mourning the loss of a fantastic app by an awesome developer, to me it signals the end of a golden era of small indie client only apps. Since the APIs for the likes of reddit, twitter (RIP tweetbot) and others were available for free or a reasonable fee it spawned a whole cottage industry of developers who made a living selling alternate front ends for these services. These apps invented many of the conventions and designs that eventually percolated to the official clients. Sometimes these innovations even became platform wide conventions (pull to refresh anyone?). The writing was on the wall for a while, but now the door is firmly closed on that era - and we will all be poorer for it.

My feelings exactly. We're all stuck with the official Reddit and Twitter clients now. They're not even good. We know they're not good, but they're now the only place to experience Reddit and Twitter. It's like enterprise software for a whole social network.

I just don't think I'll use Reddit anymore. It was a nice place to catch up with my interests but the only way in which I used it was via Apollo. The one thing that made Reddit unique compared to all its competitors was its developer community and they have deliberately torpedoed it.

All good things have to end but this was avoidable.

Where to next though? is there anywhere else like it?

I am the developer of HACK, hacker news app for iOS, android and MacOS. I have been working on a decentralized link + text sharing site called AvocadoReader for last few weeks. I am hoping to have an extremely early beta next week. I shared some implementation details here if people want to read more:


Not commenting on your app, but I think the real reason mobile clients are needed for Reddit is that they intentionally try to break the mobile web experience to force their app down your throat. In contrast, HN.. doesn't. The mobile website is pleasant to use, if you are okay with the rather small text buttons.

That's a perfectly fair point. I personally think HN is one of the best designed sites out there. Being extremely minimal is one of the best designs. I hope that never changes.

I built HACK specifically to be able to be notified when people reply to me. That's one of my selling points.

Commenting this from HACK. The default HN interface does have problems. The buttons are indeed too small. The comments indentation is a little too small. Lack of notifications. A separate page on clicking reply, etc.

I was spoiled by Apollo for Reddit and HACK has done the same thing for HN. Thank you!

iOS has "unblocked" browser notifications now, hasn't it?

That’s only if hacker news decides to implement it. And based on their motto, I doubt they will.

What I mean is that you don't have to build an iOS app anymore just for notifications.

Hey I’ve never been on HN before but have seen good articles pop up on Reddit. A few minutes ago I searched for hacker news in the App Store, scrolled a bit, and downloaded HACK because it looked the most promising :)

And now I’m posting my first HN comment on this app to the dev hahah.

Haha thanks! Glad you could find my app easily!

message me at (my username) at gmail dot com. I'm the creator of Touchbase (www.touchbase.id) that lets users share all their online platforms in 1 profile, and I want to speak on possibly integrating HACK as a platform that users can share their account of.

commenting from HACK rn!! it reminds me of apollo in a good way :)

You’re on it, buddy :P

Unfortunately, HN has nowhere near the diversity of communities and viewpoints as a place like reddit did.

Yeah it's a bizarre claim. I've described HN as a single, usually really good, subreddit before but it's absolutely not a replacement for the entire site.

Indeed. And it even has the same features (centralized, ultimately beholden to commercial interests) that destroyed Reddit!

But don't worry, that's not going to happen here. You don't need a decentralized non-profit community, trust me. It's going to work out this time. Really.

Ironically Reddit also gives users way more control over their data than this place.

I'm not sure if you're being entirely serious but I disagree. HN is special because while it's a popular (relatively speaking) social media site, it's also run by a company that isn't in the social media business. YC is not concerned with how to make HN revenue generating, they just want to push people to where the real money is made for them: their startup accelerator.

With that said it's in YC's best interest to keep users happy, only change what is requested and generally keep the status quo. Unfortunately for a company like Reddit that is a social media site and has to make money with their social media product, keeping users happy at all costs is not in their best interest (though that has yet to be seen).

Well, as it stands HN is like just another good subreddit.

There's a list here: https://old.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/13x9sy7/now_that...

Note that all of these are still centralized, so still subjects to similar issues. Once again selfhosting is the best xay forward

digg :)

"We're" not stuck unless your career is in social media, in which case yes, they will still be the most popular sites and the best way to reach people.

But for the rest of us, there's always a choice to foster a new community. Whether there is enough for that, and if a server is ready for that load, are big questions to answer though

And that’s fine. We need less low effort rage bait, viral influencer influence on the economy.

The reach of contrived political philosophy, fiat economic hustle, and pop culture gabber can be constrained; the obsolescence of /. , MySpace, and the like did not destroy reality. Now we know the outcome of the social media experiment. Utter dumpster fire.

It occurs to me people made a whole lot of small business work before handing sacks of cash to cloud SaaS

We need less adminisphere in all contexts so we can screw up again, let the wrong people helicopter us with banal AI bots, make lizard brain m sedate until it gets bored with AI bots. Then we’ll trot out a new copium for the masses and they can lean back again, super proud of their commitment to whatever hallucinated ideology they believe they’re serving.

All while waving off the ecological impact, because reality is just a big graph, mmmk

If you work in social media, you can probably afford a subscription based enriched app that pays the API fees.

It's the normal users that suffer. Hopefully that suffering will hit Reddits usage/cash flows enough to make them u turn.

You certainly can redirect people to a website/app for a more tailored platform. But it's not the 2000's anymore where sites feature forums, comments sections, and other community features encouraging users to stay in their environment. At best, the ones that remain use middleware liks Disqus or Discord (and that is a whole other tangent that I could rant about all day) or simply encourage users to share on Reddit/TWitter.

They still can, but most sites these days are fine going where the people go, and linking to their custom stuff.

Twitter pushed me onto Mastodon a while back and i imagine Reddit will do the same. Funny enough, i have exactly one of the clients mentioned in this discussion - Tweetbot - on Mastodon. Ie the app made by the same devs.

I have no idea why, but I can only stand to use reddit in "old" mode. Even on mobile. It's completely 100% unusable in any other format. I've tried to use their app and standard mobile website, but I can't make heads or tails of the hierarchy of content.

If you don't use old mode in a mobile browser, they block off 1/3 of your screen with "Are you sure you don't want to use the Reddit App?" Pretty sure I don't Reddit.

Any tips on using old reddit on a phone? Constantly zooming in to press unfriendly-for-tap buttons make it a chore, compared to Apollo.

That’s the way.

The alternative is the god awful updated site or their app. I hope you like adverts.

There could be a userscript for a better reddit UI if someone cared but looks like nobody does. There's also Reddit Enhancement Suite but I don't think you can use it on mobile.

Wasn't there something called `teddit` that was written in nim that did a better job of removing all the js crap that makes reddit terrible? I would imagine everyone will just move to that if possible. Although perhaps that may also be affected by their idiotic API charge junk.

Yep https://teddit.net/ although it’s quite slow. There are other alternatives out there too.

I wish the Twitter client were half as good as Apollo. I really miss the ability to navigate the stack by swiping as intuitively as I can with Apollo. In Twitter the best I can hope for is a stack of depth two.

Decentralization doesn't seem like a bad idea now?

Only if there was a way to host websites where no central authority ever owned the data and the people who ran relays got paid in some form of cryptographically secure crypto currency. Frontend clients that made requests would need to pay in the same token to avoid abuse.

If the web collectively swings back in the other direction, to the fediverse or some other evolution, there will be a revival of small indie clients, and a revival of a better web in general. Twitter is in freefall and Reddit is on the verge of it, so it might not be a long wait.

The anti-federation argument has always been that centralized entities have the resources to make a better product. And if that's true, then Apollo is the exception to the rule. Reddit has a team with dozens of engineers, while Apollo has one developer with some part time help. So why is Apollo so much better than the official app?

What the pro-centralization argument misses is that centralized apps also have incentive to monetize their app, and monetization features can harm quality. But in the case of Reddit I'm not sure it's only monetization which has ruined the first-party user experience. The engineering quality is just bad.

>So why is Apollo so much better than the official app?

It's because of misaligned incentives.

Third-party clients are good because their only focus is to provide the best user experience to the website content. The user is the customer, and pleasing the customer is what makes money.

First-party clients have all sorts of competing goals: showing ads, data mining, maximizing engagement, soliciting upsells (Reddit badges) and other dark patterns. Many of these conflict with providing good UX (especially ads.) The user is not the customer, advertisers are, so when the customer gets what he wants, the user gets the shaft.

First-party clients for ad-supported websites fundamentally can't be good. That's just not incentivized by the business model.

Furthermore, having third party apps in directly against the business model, which seeks total control of the user's attention to deliver ads and optimize for profits. They are hoping to bump their valuations up before the IPO by this.

Great analysis of first party vs third party clients, it open eyes

> The anti-federation argument has always been that centralized entities have the resources to make a better product.

I wouldn't phrase it like that.

I'd say 'The anti-federation reality has always been that centralized entities have the authority to more quickly evolve their product.'

Whereas federated models have always had a terrible time upgrading standards in a timely manner, even when upgrades are obviously needed.

However, products typically exist in distinct phrases -- rapid growth/evolution is eventually followed by stability/maturity.

Once the product switches to that latter mode, the evolutionary speed benefits of centralization dull.

Obvious example: AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ's initial popularity... before multi-client Trillian et al. became preferable... because the limited intersection feature set it supported already covered everything everyone wanted to do via IMs.

Reddit reached feature completion and maturity a while ago, which made it ripe for disruption via a decentralized clone.

However, they're just realizing the emperor has no clothes and their only remaining moat is their existing users, and users are a fickle moat.

> The anti-federation argument has always been that centralized entities have the resources to make a better product.

This seems like half the argument. The other half of the argument is that you could build a federated system of similar efficiency where everybody notifies/queries a central hub decided by convention.

The important-ish distinction is that you don't need as many resources (for polling) if you can generate enough trust that ~everyone is willing to push to you.

(I don't want to get up my own ass here, so to my mind the only thing that matters about "having enough resources to make a better product" is that you have all the content, presumably by crawling the entire network on shorter intervals than anyone else.)

I left facebook towards the end of 2016, for exactly the reason you might think. I used Twitter for a while before and after that as a kind of methadone, and even stipulating that I was not looking for connection to friends and family, the interactions I had on Twitter in 2017 were, by and large, incredibly low-quality, and I was only interacting with people who ideologically agreed with me, the trolls never reached me, or if they did they were in stealth mode and ineffective.

In retrospect, some of the accounts might have been intended to make the left look extra ridiculous, not sure, but I don't really believe that's true, I've seen people chase enough bad ideas en masse now that I think these were well-meaning people who believed that by participating in this infernal attention mill, they were doing things that would change the world for the better.

Reddit has likewise never been even mediocre at what it's purporting to be, these are all just what happens when people approach the internet, which is one thing, as though it was a super cool television, which is a whole other thing. The illusion of participation and having a voice is really what people are buying with all their attention, because actually having a voice on the actual internet means knowing html at a minimum. Not actually a tall order for anyone who has a couple days and a willingness to do a bit of mental labour, but why bother when you can just post on whichever corporate daemon you favour.

The weirdest thing of all to me, I don't even know how I found this place but it's got some of the best interactions I've had since Usenet died, and I didn't know know what ycombinator was or why it wasn't called hackernews.net or whatever. To learn just this week that the platform is just a service operated by the people behind quite a lot of this VC fuckery, I'm still integrating it, but it kinda feels like I wandered into the country club after getting lost in the woods and nobody's asked who I'm here with or why I'm not fetching them a bowl of nuts.

Anyways didn't come to talk about that, came to say, been using Mastodon the last month or so, and I am also having pretty high quality interactions there. Nothing remotely like the idiocy I encountered daily in my Twitter feed. Occasionally a thing that I don't care for, like, I really don't need all the furry porn, holy crap are there ever a lot of very dedicated people servicing the furry market and I'm gonna be looking into that cause I know how to make tails move. But that filters out easy.

I'm on the main instance and I'm looking around at others while I decide whether to just self-host, but I enjoy the scroll with the accounts and hashtags I follow, the quality ranges from boring to amazing, very little annoying, trollish, spammy, Mindset-infected trash comes through my feed, and like I said, the only heavy filtering I've done is the porn.

Best part: I loved Facebook when I first joined and when I started to get discontented was when the default feed stopped being "what you follow in the order they post," and that has never been around since, except notably on reddit I suppose. Nothing wrong with having an algo feed available for discovery, and Mastodon has that, but your feed is just what you follow in the order they post as a default. So you scroll down till you realize you've seen it already, and you know you've seen it all for now and you move on. There is no machine trying to hold your attention, there is just what you asked for. What a concept.

>it kinda feels like I wandered into the country club after getting lost in the woods and nobody's asked who I'm here with or why I'm not fetching them a bowl of nuts

The tech genius hobos, burnouts, and weirdos come here to rub elbows with the Patagucci vest crowd. The guy who manages this place ("dang") seems to tolerate us unwashed types, as long as we don't post polemics. You're not necessarily in the wrong place, but I can see how you might feel outnumbered.

It really would be bad if Reddit collapsed.

Facebook is a former juggernaut of manipulating midwesterners and grandparents by driving them to bigoted echo chambers and serving them Republican targeted adverts. Now it is a wasteland of corporate pages and zombie meme groups, extremist recruitment groups for SE Asian political parties, coordination for death squads on the African continent, etc. it is impossible to host a town square or public commons discussion there.

Twitter is owned by a “libertarian” Republican techbro bigot who was financed by private Saudi equity after conversations with Thiel and a bunch of other alt-Right figures. It is swiftly become 4chan.

There are no longer Google+ forums; all the other message boards save for slashdot are unmoderated post apocalyptic horror shows roamed by Mad Max gangs (or fifteen year old gamers imagining they’re in Mad Max). Even Tumblr has at-scale difficulties countering & preventing hatred & harassment. They have no volunteer mods.

Reddit cleaned up starting in 2019. It’s home to many communities which are exactly as diverse, vibrant, and rewarding as they make themselves to be.

Reddit isn’t going to go under. It cannot. It has to persevere.

And you figure the best way to ensure that is to bring a bunch of VC capital in eh?

This comment reads as a bit unhinged, but I upvoted it for the description of Facebook which made me chuckle.

two big points

1. "better is subjective" and what reddit's native app is trying to do is "better" for reddit's bottom line. 2. more importantly, there is a case of "good enough". As I'm sure we've seen over the history of the internet, the "better product" doesn't always win. this is 1000x truer for social media. Reddit's app is "good enough" for those who use reddit casually it that they don't look for/at alternatives. it lets you scroll, look at pretty pictures, and maybe up/down vote quickly. Anything else to that user is fluff. You can skimp out on a lot of features, even core ones, if those 3 parts are good enough.

Reddit's app is "good enough" for those who use reddit casually it that they don't look for/at alternatives.

The problem with that, if it's true, is that those people are less likely to be the content creators and more likely to be people who come to read what the 'serious' Reddit users post. Losing the hardcore group of creators will kill Reddit because then there'll be nothing for the casual readers to read.

Ultimately, Reddit's main work is to serve a small core group of people who post new content, and that content is what draws the rest of the users. They'll need those users to be happy in the first party app. That might be the case already. If it isn't, Reddit are taking a huge risk.

Reddit largely leeches anyways. I’m not exactly sure why (I suspect the sorting algorithm and the quick turnover of content), but its community is shockingly unproductive in terms of content creation. The only thing it does somewhat well is aggregation. So no, I don’t think they have much to fear in that regard.

They are risking the relationship to their army of unpaid cops though. These people are absolutely crucial for maintaining the gentrification of that space. Without them, all the hard work to slowly change the tone towards an ad-friendly and ideologically compliant tune is going to be lost. It is not unlikely, but by no means guaranteed that they can recruit another batch of people wohnst willing to do this for free after ruining the relationship with those who got invested during a time when the company was masquerading itself as a community.

Not surprising at all. Reddit's culture is vehemently against original creation and deftly afraid of any hint of self-promotion. The users claim to be tired of all the same reposts but shun 99% of attempts for people to share originality.

It's a natural consequence.

>Losing the hardcore group of creators will kill Reddit because then there'll be nothing for the casual readers to read.

I agree. I guess the gamble here (that historically, usually pays off) is that the casual userbase size is good enough to keep the power users around, who ultimately want visibility. That's the hardest part of the modern internet and why social media survive well past what would be downfalls for any other product.

I'm not going to say Reddit is too big to fail, but I don't think reddit's death will be by a thousand paper cuts. it will heal with new mods as fast as the old ones leave. Whether it whither and rots away over the years with that new modbase is the big question mark.

Oh wow, "pull to refresh" was invented by one of these indie clients? Do you remember which one?

And wasn't it the Twitterrific client that came up with the phrase "tweet", and they also introduced the blue bird icon.

Then musk took over, and he banned them from using the API and forced them to close down. What a stand up guy.

Tweetie - iPhone Twitter app in like 2008

Tweetie for iOS

Mastodon clients are a fun UI playground, lots of indie apps (at least on iOS).

Unfortunately Mastodon feels a bit empty, there's not many people on it yet.

It depends on what sort of community you follow. The ML and tech podcasting communities have largely moved over. The politics, journalism and celebrity part of twitter hasn’t moved over. The corollary to that is that much of the vitriol and random toxicity also hasn’t moved over. I have a more vibrant and more interesting mastodon feed than I ever had on twitter. And my twitter feed now is a wasteland, stripped of the good content but still filled with all of the bad content. Twitter is dead man walking as far as I’m concerned.

The problem I experience with Mastodon is it seems like a total echo chamber. Very little interesting conversation most of the time. I still find good links to content there though.

Historically, before the "mass migration" most Mastodon servers were built around a specific community and their shared values of what was appropriate to post. Sure it was federated but many early users tended to stick to "their" server exclusively.

It's no surprise that can end up feeling like an echo chamber. It's getting better than it was when I first started using it about six months ago but some of the posts people catch heat for seem a bit too over the top.

One of my favorite examples was a user who posted a photo of their dinner. It was nothing crazy just like rice, veggies, and chicken. They were immediately accosted for not posting a trigger warning since some people have eating disorders. That's the type of community I have no patience for.

> I have a more vibrant and more interesting mastodon feed than I ever had on twitter.

Exactly! I can comment on a post and have real engagement with someone which hasn't happened in years on Twitter.

Mastodon doesn't have algorithmic recommendations, so you have to follow people fairly liberally to get a good amount of content in your feed.

This exactly. Furthermore, Mastodon rewards those that want to actively participate in communities. It does not reward lurkers who want to passively (doom)scroll.

That's... kind of dumb? What's wrong with lurking if you don't have much to say on a topic, but want to observe?

Makes sense if the goal is to get content flowing. Doesn't make sense if you want the quality of content to be good.

How does that work?

If Alice posted once the last months, and Bob 20 times, and they both post another post, then ... maybe Mastodon will promote Bob's post and demote Alice's because Bob has been more active? (I would have preferred the opposite, hmm)

I don't think Mastodon has "promotion". If Alice posts once and Bob 20 times, you'll see Bob all over your feed and can easily miss Alice's post unless you seek it out. There is a retweet type feature (I forget the name) but I'm not sure it really does much to get Alice's message out to a wider audience.

Ok thanks :-)

I mean, according to the joinmastodon.org API stats[0] there are nearly 7 million users and wavering around 9-10k instances (servers).

[0] https://api.joinmastodon.org/statistics

IMO that era already ended when we transitioned from ICQ, AIM, MSN & co to Whatapp, Signal and the google messenger du jour.

>to me it signals the end of a golden era of small indie client only apps.

To me it signals you're a fairly new entrant to the intertubez.

Third party frontends for a given backend have existed since time immemorial, with or without sanctioned access to the backend's innards.

Alternatives to Explorer and Program Manager for a Windows shell are one of the older examples, more contextually relevant and newer examples would be programs like Pidgin and Trillian which served as third party clients for AIM, MSN, YIM, ICQ, etc.

None of this in any general sense is going away, though specific examples might.

It’s only happening this way if we let it.

We can build a Reddit replacement… we just have to want to

Funny, everyone was pissed at the Apollo developer before Reddit announced these changes. Now the anger has completely shifted.

In this situation, do you hire someone to negotiate with or for you? I'm thinking the intention here was to sell the company for $10 million and that came across as a threat because of the language that was used. You would not record the call [1] and then publish it if you actually were blackmailing them for $10 million. I'm not faulting the guy here at all, I just think it comes down to lack of experience in dealing with negotiations of this level. He clearly has an awesome product if you look at any of the HN/Reddit comments.

He probably could have walked away will at least a few million vs shutting it down if there was a small level of negotiation that took place here. I'm not sure who was on the other end of the call but strategic accounts normally get pretty seasoned sales folks assigned to them. They are used to having hard conversations around pricing and pissed off customers. That's all part of negotiation.

That call was brutal to listen too.

Or, is saying you're shutting down part of negotiation too? This likely took it too far if it was, in that you're making reddit look like the bad guy very publicly now. So, it's probably worth it for reddit to cut ties and force people into the reddit app.

No winners here:

  * Apollo the company is gone.
  * Apollo users are gone.
  * Reddit has no customer paying money.
  * Reddit cannot reference them.
  * Reddit users are ticked off.
This is a case study in bad negotiation tactics on both sides. Reddit tried to squeeze them pretty hard right off the bat. Should have tried a 3 year contract or something with heavy discounts. This is wild.

[1] http://christianselig.com/apollo-end/reddit-third-call-may-3...

It's certainly a strange call. Hey, you want to charge me $20 million per year, so why don't we make it easy and you just pay me $10 million to go quiet?

It's really confusing. He wants Reddit to pay $10 million so he isn't "loud" with API usage? He wants them to buy and takeover the app? He's wants a payment to shutdown? Is he even serious about any of this? I get the impression he lacks the confidence to ask for a $10 million acquisition, so instead he approaches the subject casually as a joke, and the entire conversation spirals into confusion due to the lack of clarity.

Either way, that's not a great deal for Reddit. They might as well charge the $20 million, and if he can't find a way to pay it then Apollo shuts down and the majority of users return to the official Reddit site/app for free. There's no benefit to paying $10 million.

The call was a failure between the two parties and likely destroyed any future negotiations. I think the best suggestion was from another user here. Only allow Reddit official subscribers to use third party apps. Reddit can charge users whatever they want, and app developers can monetize their apps however they choose.

It's not strange at all. At least the Reddit CEO heard and understood perfectly well what the Apollo dev said in that call and there's a recording to prove that.

Your first sentence misrepresents what the Apollo dev said. Actually, it's the exact same misrepresentation that the Reddit CEO knowingly made in public.

First off, it's abundantly clear that the Apollo dev wasn't actually demanding money. It was a pointed statement that revealed the CEO wasn't being honest about the costs.

The CEO, in contradiction with publicly available data, claimed that Apollo was costing Reddit $20 million per year in lost opportunity. So the dev jokingly offered to sell Apollo for half that price. Then Reddit would be able to recoup the cost in half a year and gain an additional $20 million yearly. What a great deal, right? Except they both knew that the $20 million price tag was complete bogus.

> First off, it's abundantly clear that the Apollo dev wasn't actually demanding money. It was a pointed statement that revealed the CEO wasn't being honest about the costs.

I disagree, I think the Apollo dev would have happily taken the $10 million.

> Then Reddit would be able to recoup the cost in half a year and gain an additional $20 million yearly. What a great deal, right? Except they both knew that the $20 million price tag was complete bogus.

The $20 million price is irrelevant here. Reddit doesn't need to pay to acquire these users. They are Reddit users (they're registered there, and Reddit knows everything about them). They can close down Apollo and they'll get almost all the users back for free.

If Apollo had a standalone community, then it's easy to calculate the value of a user, and a fair price for acquisition. But, that's not the case here.

Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not siding with Reddit and I think both sides are losing here due to their poor management.

> I disagree, I think the Apollo dev would have happily taken the $10 million.

That doesn't mean he was demanding money.

> If Apollo had a standalone community, then it's easy to calculate the value of a user, and a fair price for acquisition

I do agree it's difficult to calculate the value of a user in this case.

Yes, Apollo users are Reddit users, but they are specifically Reddit users who don't use Reddit's official clients. The question is how many of those users will move to Reddit's official app after June 30, and how many will look for alternative platforms that aren't so manipulative and abusive. I for one have deleted my Reddit account and won't be going back.

> The question is how many of those users will move to Reddit's official app after June 30, and how many will look for alternative platforms that aren't so manipulative and abusive. I for one have deleted my Reddit account and won't be going back.

I think you're in the minority. If there was a well known Reddit alternative at the moment, I could see Reddit having their Digg moment and losing a large part of the community. Subreddits could blackout and threaten to leave to the other website. That is something that would be taken seriously. Dozens of subreddits with 1-50 million users potentially jumping ship at once. If you had the right platform, with the right attributes and reputation, the stars would be perfectly aligned to take in a mass number of Reddit users. But, no one is in the right position to catch the ball at the moment (I don't claim it's an easy position to be in). It's actually unfortunate, because these moments don't come too often and I believe it allows Reddit to make these changes with little repercussions. Fans of old.reddit.com better watch out, I bet it's on the chopping block within the next year.

I'm also only one datapoint but I won't use Reddit from 30th on. I guess all these big cooperation and some users are overestimating the power of their platform. I (and I know some other people from my inner circle that are not "in tech") left these platforms before and never looked back.

It was the same with Facebook: You want me to use my real name? I'm gone. Never used Facebook again. Specifically in Germany (where I would argue the population values privacy more than in other nations) that was a deal breaker for a lot of them when they started enforcing that policy.

(This example is not about a platform but more of an example of quitting a product because of "bad" behavior) Mobile games getting more and more P2W and have a half-life of ~1 year? Yeah, count me out. Especially with that example I know a lot more people that said "fuck that" and won't touch mobile games with a ten foot pole anymore.

And honestly it will be the same with Reddit. It's not like it's essential. I'll be good without it and I would guess many more people too. The two examples I gave made my life better (less screen time) and the Reddit move will do the same.

As for how it'll play out for the majority of people: I guess we'll see. But looking at Reddits latest track record of bad decisions I would argue it won't be the last one and there is a lot of potential to create a new Digg moment.

> when they started enforcing that policy.

I don't have a real name on Facebook not have any of my friends. There are also a lot of fake/troll accounts on Facebook. I don't think they ever enforced that policy.

If true I don't know how that happened but two of my friends + me got their account suspended and were asked to provide identifying information to get it reinstated - at the same time.

Yeah totally agree.

Further I wouldn’t be trusting a hot take from ~100 points GuestXXXXXX at this point of the PR dumpster fire cycle.

Given the mishaps of the past such as stealth editing comments of other users, I would not at all be surprised if these comments were made by alt accounts of u/spez.

Source on the CEO making a claim of a threat in public?

Don't know if you're being pedantic (was it the CEO himself or someone speaking for Reddit officially?), but this is the reference:


> Apollo threatened us, said they’ll “make it easy” if Reddit gave them $10 million.

My understanding is that Reddit is saying that by not charging for the API they are losing $20M per year. So he said, well you can buy me out, and instead of doing a multiple of that $20M to be like $100M, he’s only asking for half of only one year’s worth of what they would lose. Clearly they don’t want to do that deal because the $20M figure is complete bogus.

but there’s no incentive for Reddit to pay any money, they either start charging for the API and recoup the costs or the app shuts down and it starts costing Reddit absolutely nothing

The cost for reddit as stated in another part of the call is an opportunity cost. By acquiring Apollo instead of shutting it down they would seamlessly acquire a lot of users who would have a hard time adjusting to the native app and potentially leave the platform, so this call is still a cost to them.

The app shutting down does not automatically cost nothing. If all users move to the official app the server resources still are used but the users would at least see ads.

> if he can't find a way to pay it then Apollo shuts down and the majority of users return to the official Reddit site/app for free

I think you underestimate the fallout here.

Rather, the vocal minority overestimates it. The vast majority of social media users don't give a shit, they'll continue using the platform.

I quit Reddit today in part because of this event and I had never used Apollo. I started reading it more regularly 5 years ago because a friend had ranked in their top twenty and got me curious about what he spent his time on. I loved observing a couple of communities passively, but it’s just not worth the risk anymore. They might eventually also remove old.reddit.com so I don’t see why I should bother with content that might one day disappear completely.

I’m also looking to migrate off reddit because of this. I have a couple sites for my hobbies I’ve already started to visit, but the big loss for me is the ability to find reliable information on niche topics — ie, what rain pants to buy for fishing, where in a city to get the best perogies, looking at how user opinions change over time on political topics etc. Also great are any of the discussions on movies or TV shows. I really see no alternative but reddit for these things. Does anyone have recommendations? Or do I still need to go to reddit for this.

I deleted my 8 year old account yesterday. I modded a few subs.

I don’t know if I’ll quit Reddit entirely, but I’m certainly done engaging at the level that I use to. I no longer trust how Reddit will decide to use my data or how they’ll pull the rug from me. They’re pre-IPO and already getting desperate. Shits going to hit the fan when they IPO and investors expect constant growth.

I might have agreed with you if not for the fact that Reddit was effectively born when we all left Digg en masse because of a major, unpopular change just like this. Piss off enough people all at the same time and things actually happen. Reddit has been boiling this frog for so long I thought they had learned their lesson but apparently not.

Reddit existed as an equivalent just slightly smaller alternative to Digg at the time. There is nothing like that for current Reddit.

Any thread about Google Search on here is filled with people saying they have to do "site:reddit.com" to get accurate results. I've never seen another site used in that example. I'd love to be proven wrong on this because it means there's some great internet resource I've been missing out on.

Nah. It’s time to decentralize and federate ALL social networks. Mastodon is in good shape now let’s do lemmy? I think that’s the front runner.

Mastodon petered out and Lemmy never gained traction in the first place

Sorry, no. Mastodon is quite lively.

Lemmy is developed by and its main instance run by tankers. We need a healthier alternative.

What are tankers?


> Tankie is a pejorative label for communists, particularly Stalinists, who support the authoritarian tendencies of Marxism–Leninism or, more generally, authoritarian states associated with Marxism–Leninism in history.

> ...

> The term is also used to describe people who endorse, defend, or deny the crimes committed by communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Kim il-Sung. In modern times, the term is used across the political spectrum to describe those who have a bias in favor of authoritarian communist states, such as the People's Republic of China, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Additionally, tankies have a tendency to support non-socialist states if they are opposed to the United States and the Western world in general.


Or a quick way - if you think of countries that have military parades with tanks rolling down city streets, those are supported by "tankies".

Got it. I should have looked this up.

Does it matter though if Lemmie is run by such a group when you could potentially spin up your own instance where you enforce totally opposing values?

If you have a site that is espousing contradictory values to the main site, would the main site accept your content? or would they kind of shun you?

(alas, its shut down... but it used to be that if you looked at the 'moderated servers on a mastodon site you'd find parler in that list which was a modified mastodon instance that no one else wanted to talk to)

If your content is sufficiently shunned from the main instances/interchanges how discoverable would your posts be? Or would you go "ok" and accept the political or philosophical lean of the main site so that your content got syndicated/federated to others?

I mean that'll happen with literally any website, forum, BBS, subreddit framework out there. The idea here would be to create a forum stack where users can confidently contribute to knowing that no single entity has full control over all of its contents.

Obviously there's nothing stopping from some instances from creating closed or gated content, but the public facing ones with like 10-20 years of gardening input freely given by end users can never be taken away from the community, which is what's happening with Reddit and has happened with IMDB and countless others.

Mastodon far from petered out. The communities I’m apart of are highly active on there.

Either Apollo represents a “$20M opportunity” or it’s just a “vocal minority.” So, which is it? It can’t possibly be both.

Sure it can, if you assume that Reddit doesn't actually care about keeping third party apps alive and just made up the 20 million dollar figure.

> the vocal minority overestimates it

Those were the people using Apollo in the first place.

If Reddit thinks Apollo can pay them 20 million a year, 10 million is certainly a nice deal for the app? I guess that is what he meant.

It's not a deal though. Reddit says the users are worth $20 million in lost advertising. So either Apollo pays the money, the users move to another app that pays, or the users return to the official site and app. Either way, Reddit gets their $20 million.

Apollo has no leverage here unless there is strong evidence most of the Apollo users will leave Reddit if the app shuts down. I don't believe they will. The other potential leverage is the upcoming subreddit blackouts, or hinting at taking the Apollo users to start a competitor. The developer said they are not going to build a competitor (that was a mistake, they shouldn't have revealed that card), so I think the blackouts are the only chance of lowering API costs.

The point here is, if Reddit thinks the user base is worth $20M per year, paying $10M to take over the app and implement ads on it, would be a steal. They’d return the money in 6 months. Usual payback periods are like 4-8 years. Clearly the $20M is BS because otherwise they’d done the deal on the spot.

They would only do the deal on the spot if that was their only option. But they have the option of spending $0 and having the majority of the users moving to the official app.

This is an example of the same thing being worth different amounts to different parties, and the equivocation leads to comments like this thread.

If Apollo's userbase was actually generating $20mm/yr, acquiring Apollo for $10mm is a no-brainer. But if that were the case, keeping Apollo running as it is would also work.

Obviously this is not the case. Apollo is confusing costing $20mm with generating $20mm.

If it were worth $20M in lost advertising, buying the app and adding adverts to it would be a no brainer. The author was trying to call their bluff on user value, but communicated it very poorly.

There's no way the bit about $20million in lost advertising is true. Going by user counts and reddit's total ad revenue you get about $1 million.

Also, people use Apollo so they don’t have to deal with the ads and terrible ux. They’re not suddenly going to go to the terrible official website or app.

Or if they are, they'll use an adblocker and be of 0 revenue.

There are a lot of users who have decided to delete their account once 3rd party apps are gone. Some may come back but they won't be getting that 20 mil

“ Is he even serious about any of this?”

Not sure how people are misunderstanding him, he literally said he was joking… He knows it’s not a great deal for Reddit. His whole point is that the app isn’t actually worth $20 million a year, which is what they want him to pay. It’s not even worth $10 million. Not to him or Reddit or anyone else.

> His whole point is that the app isn’t actually worth $20 million a year, which is what they want him to pay. It’s not even worth $10 million. Not to him or Reddit or anyone else.

Right now there seems to be two options on the table.

1. The Apollo dev pays $20 million per year for API access.

2. Apollo shuts down and the users return to the official Reddit website/app for advertising.

If Reddit is refusing to lower their API pricing, doesn't this mean the users are worth $20 million? If the users were worth $1 million, then why wouldn't Reddit charge $2 million for the API and double their income on those users?

That being said, something else must be at play here. The users are not worth $20 million and Reddit refuses to take anything less than $20 million. If I had to guess, they want to boost metrics before going public and are willing to take a hit to their reputation to do so.

I’m just one Apollo user, but I don’t plan to install the official app. It’s terrible and riddled with ads.

It’s the same reason I don’t use instagram—seeing an ad every two images bugs the crap out of me. The difference with Reddit is there was a nice third party option.

So what he said rather poorly was:

1) ok so, according to you I’m costing you $20M/year in API load

2) How about you pay me $10M which is 6 months of your cost, and I turn off the $20M/year burden immediately.

3) you make your money back in 6 months and within a year are up $10M

The problem is Apollo does not cost Reddit $20M/year lol

Reddit should have ended the call politely and told the Apollo guy to reach out with some sort of negotiator/liaison/agent/manager on the line.

>There's no benefit to paying $10 million.

Him not rabble rousing their user base against them would have been the benefit.

Yeah this guy didn't handle this situation very well. I don't know if it would've been possible to save Apollo for reddit, but that call didn't help at all.

Also, what's the deal with him not wanting to start a competitor? That's like his only bargaining chip in this situation, and he's just throwing it away because he feels overwhelmed and wants to make iOS widgets. I totally sympathize with him and how this situation is probably incredibly stressful, but when you have 50k+ subscribers per year + millions of happy loyal users, you gotta start bringing in outside people to help with these things. He's just letting a lot of people down.

I don't mean to trash the guy, but I hope that the other third-party apps see this example and change their response to find a better outcome for their users.

Why should he be forced to do something he doesn't want to do?

He's made it abundantly clear why he doesn't want to do that, who are you (or anyone else but him) to say "No you're not allowed to have opinions, you MUST create your own alternative"?

> I've received so many messages of kind people offering to work with me to build a competitor to Reddit, and while I'm very flattered, that's not something I'm interested in doing. I'm a product guy, I like building fun apps for people to use, and I'm just not personally interested in something more managerial.

> These last several months have also been incredibly exhausting and mentally draining, I don't have it in me to engage in something so enormous.

He’s allowed to do whatever he wants (including not starting a competitor). But it’s bad from a negotiation perspective to let that out

Also bad from a business perspective. It likely would cost way less than 10m to build a competitor, functionality wise.

Reddit from 2017 or so is open source!

> But it’s bad from a negotiation perspective to let that out

It’s pretty clear that there’s no negotiating left, so I’m not sure what relevance this has anymore. A few days ago? Yeah maybe.

If the CEO is maliciously accusing you of threatening them, then there’s nothing left to negotiate. The relationship is beyond broken.

> Also bad from a business perspective. It likely would cost way less than 10m to build a competitor, functionality wise.

He has already made it clear he’s not interested in building a competitor (the quote is literally right there in the comment you replied to), so, once again, what’s your point?

It’s plainly evident that Christian is done, and I don’t blame him.

The RIF and Sync devs are too, and I’m sure all the other apps will soon announce shutdowns at the end of the month too.

Yeah, Reddit needs to majorly up their game too. You strong arm your major customers right out of the gate. What a loss for both sides. You want the guy to pay $20 million and you just give him a call on the phone. Total amateur hour.

This should have gone like, "Hey, in a few months we're rolling this out and wanted to give you a heads up so you know before anyone else, since you're a major API user. We wanted to offer you a grace period and special pricing. When's a good time to chat we'll fly out.". Fly the sales team over to where he lives, wine and dine him, etc. This is what sales people do all day long for deals that are like $250k+. For deals that are $20 million a year you'll have all parts of the company bending over backwards trying to win that.

This is all just my opinion based on what I've read so far.

It's clear that they don't want any of the third-party apps to pay them a cent. They want the third-party apps gone, and the users to move to the official app where they can be directly monetised by Reddit. There was never going to be a deal; if Reddit was interested in one they would have approached this differently.

Then why not just shut down their public API?

Optics, both are functionally shutting it down, but one claims to add value while the other removes options.

> Reddit needs to majorly up their game too. You strong arm your major customers right out of the gate. What a loss for both sides. You want the guy to pay $20 million and you just give him a call on the phone. Total amateur hour.

If they wanted him to pay $20 million, they'd certainly have given him much better than a brief phone call.

But that's the point. They're revealing with their actions that they don't actually want him to pay the money. What they want is to shut it down. Charging a sum of money that they know he won't pay is just an easy way to do that.

'course it's not just him, but it's him and _everyone else_. i'm not sure what their overall intent here was, but it's been a shit show from start to finish, and they gotta at the very least start thinking hard about pausing the rollout till they can get their ducks in a row.

> Fly the sales team over to where he lives, wine and dine him, etc. This is what sales people do all day long for deals that are like $250k+. For deals that are $20 million a year you'll have all parts of the company bending over backwards trying to win that.

I pay Apple more than a million a month and I don’t even have a contact email.

Just saying, a Christmas card would be nice.

You only approach this deal this way if you don't want the deal to go through at all.

A shocking amount of people here are assuming Reddit is launching this API program in good faith. This was not a transition third party apps were meant to survive; 30 days is nowhere near enough time for any business, let alone ones by single random software developers, to see their costs increase into the hundreds of thousands or even millions per month.

You're assuming he can pay 20 million dollars. The point is that he can't, or even a fraction of that, so there's no point to wining and dining him at all.

That’s where negotiations come in. He has been very upfront about talking and negotiations but Reddit hasn’t budged on pricing at all.

Why don’t we all monetize our hobbies? Why don’t we market our personal lives? Why don’t we each have our own line of branded merchandise? Why haven’t we written a memoir?

Because some people don’t want to! And that’s okay.

I don't think Apollo is just a hobby for Christian, given that he said that working on it is now his full-time job.

Trying to start a new social network (or whatever you'd call Reddit) from the ground-up is not only very likely to fail, but it's also a totally different skillset than building iOS apps. Of course he'd rather just find another job.

His point was that there is a big difference between building a product and operating a service. I can understanding not wanting to do the latter, because it's a COO job and unless you like doing that it is not fun.

And frankly it's a failing of society that we would ever need to.

I thought he was pretty clear that he was done bargaining:

> ... I've finally come to the conclusion that I don't think this situation is recoverable. If Reddit is willing to stoop to such deep lows as to slander individuals with blatant lies to try to get community favor back, I no longer have any faith they want this to work, or ever did.

If a bargaining chip is only useful in making a deal you've decided cannot be made, why bother holding onto it? Better to tell your fans outright that you're worn out and not interested.

> Also, what's the deal with him not wanting to start a competitor?

Would you want to moderate Reddit? I get that Apollo is in a good position to take their users with them, but it's not like it's going to be easy to build a Reddit when what you've made so far has been a frontend for Reddit and some mobile widget spin-offs.

Many of us can make a frontpage for hacker news in a few hours, some might even be able to grow a userbase on it but that doesn't mean we can do what dang does.

Many of us would prefer dang only removed spam, or moved off topic post to bantz

Absolutely not, dang's work is nothing short of miraculous and I don't know of any other forumlike place that's this civil at this scale. Hope he keeps at it in this way for a long time.

The outcome of moderation here is very good, and changing policy has a high chance of damaging the value of HN. I would not risk secondary effects, myself.

But I would enjoy HN more with a soupcon of joking (currently considered zero-value). I benefit from my bread being leavened, I like programming tutorials with humour. So it's understandable why people might want to change the policy.

> Also, what's the deal with him not wanting to start a competitor?

Yeah, what's the deal with this iOS developer not wanting to start a competitor to checks notes one of the largest websites in the world? Surely you just up and did that last week, it's no big deal.

I guess I should start getting used to saying "Jesus christ, HN" now that I won't be saying "Jesus christ, Reddit" anymore.

He can't start a competitor because he has no market power. Not enough will use the competitor product for it to be worth it. A past example of someone attempting to disintermediate Reddit was /r/changemyview which attempted to switch to changeaview.com and met immediate and total backlash. Reddit's SSO multi-forum user-generated experience is why people use it.

> Also, what's the deal with him not wanting to start a competitor?

In addition to what everyone else has said, he really has 1 month if he has any chance of siphoning off reddit users.

Because sometimes, you don't want to reclimb the mountain you just hiked up and down.

> Also, what's the deal with him not wanting to start a competitor?

I suspect that both reddit and apollo know that most of the content generation happens on Reddit controlled properties.

Apollo users probably do not generate enough content to sustain a reddit-like website.

Starting a competitor involves doing all the things that Reddit is doing (having a legal team, servers across the world and staff to operate them, making policy decisions, ...).

That is not at all the same as building an iOS client using an API as a one man show (or 1-3) and directly selling that.

Can’t really blame the guy. If I had banked $X00k-XM in my early thirties I wouldn’t be doing jobs I didn’t want to do either.

I don't know how serious he was about pursuing a sale in the calls, but he made it pretty clear in the post that he's done dealing with Reddit. This isn't an attempt at blackmail or otherwise an attempt to get Reddit to buy him out, this is him getting everything out in the open to head off lies that were being spread.

From the post:

> I bring this [audio recording] up for two reasons: ... It shows why I've finally come to the conclusion that I don't think this situation is recoverable. If Reddit is willing to stoop to such deep lows as to slander individuals with blatant lies to try to get community favor back, I no longer have any faith they want this to work, or ever did.

> I'm not sure who was on the other end of the call

He mentions that it was spez AKA Steve Huffman the CEO of reddit. The call really does sound amateurish and the joke/negotiation tactic/money request/??? was really unprofessional but Steve seems to have completely misconstrued the whole interaction and blown up at him. I would say this is worse of the CEO to use this to spread slander especially when he already apologised for misunderstanding Selig and then privately walked it back

That joke about the $10M wasn't unprofessional at all. If Steve was honest about the $20M per year opportunity cost, he would've instantly agreed to a one time $10M. Then Reddit would gain an additional $20M per year. But it was only a joke because Steve was lying about the $20M opportunity.

Christian is acting in a surprisingly civil manner despite the repeated lies and smears made by Steve and others at Reddit. I see that as being professional.

That makes no logical sense at all. Why go for $10m if there is no need to because you have already adjusted your own pricing upwards.

Also, what things are priced at is not what they cost …

Reddit specifically said that killing third apps wasn’t their intention, and wanted apps to pay a reasonable amount to cover the costs.

> Also, what things are priced at is not what they cost …

So if that’s the best argument in favor of Reddit, then it’s Reddit that’s being illogical. Or to be more straight, lying.

> Why go for $10m if there is no need to because you have already adjusted your own pricing upwards.

Because $20M is neither the amount Christian was earning, nor the cost that Reddit was paying to provide API access. Steve explicitly said it was a lost opportunity. There was simply no way that Christian could’ve paid that insane price. However, Reddit could’ve earned $20M themselves per year by acquiring Apollo. If the $20M opportunity was even remotely true, that is.

Steve appears to have assumed there is no recording, so he can represent the conversation dishonestly. Unfortunately, there is a recording, so we can all hear that it wasn't a threat and that the reddit representative admitted that on the call. The optics of ineptly smearing Christian look terrible for Reddit management.

It seems a number of people believe that the recorded call has Steve Huffman talking, but I don’t see this claim anywhere in the original post.

If you read the section titled "Bizarre allegations by Reddit of Apollo "blackmailing" and "threatening" Reddit", he is directly addressing Steve. He starts with the transcript of the private mod call with Steve and then begins addressing Steve directly. The "you" in that section is the Steve Huffman he had calls with who heard the "threatening" bit

Yeah that part says it’s Steve but where does it say it’s Steve in the phone recording? It just says “Reddit” in the transcript.

Ah I see that he is claiming it’s Steve Huffman via all the use of “you” there.

He later says that he has not personally talked to Steve Huffman.

I think you're right. The Apollo dev didn't directly mention them by name but re-reading the post, I agree that that was not spez. My mistake

>it comes down to lack of experience in dealing with negotiations of this level

Yeah, the conversation is so cringe. Why is he beating around the bush so much ? He wants to sell, shut down, or whatever for a $10M payout. It sounds easy to make that proposition. Instead, he uses terrible verbiage like, "go quiet, I'm joking, opportunity cost, Bob's your uncle, yada yada". Why is he so terrible at talking ? Nothing in the call resembles a sales pitch if he is actually trying to sell a product for $10M.

> Why is he so terrible at talking ?

He's a 20-something year old developer. This isn't his comfort zone and did not expect himself to be in this position.

I know I would be terrible if I was in his shoes.

If he was even entertaining the idea of maybe selling his company, the least he could have done was get a negotiator with mergers and acquisitions experience. If he's making reasonably good money off of Apollo, he could have afforded a few hours of a good attorney.

This call was awful to hear as an entrepreneur. He is not at all clear about what he wants, and I think he's honest when he says it's "mostly a joke" - I'm getting the sense he threw out a strangely-worded scenario hoping that he could perhaps get some money. If he was serious about getting money, and he's primarily a software developer and not a negotiator, it would've been lovely if he had gotten proper counsel for this negotiation.

He wasn't expecting to float the idea! This literally came up during the call. He did not decide days before that he was going to offer to sell his company. He cannot hire outside counsel for something he is not thinking about.

Was the full call released somewhere? As i've only heard the 3 minute snippet.

Fair enough. It just isn't the slam dunk that the post makes it out to be. He made some extremely vague proposition that can easily be misinterpreted and it was ultimately unproductive.

The claim still stands, given that in the same call Reddit immediately and openly admitted that they misinterpreted him, only to later turn around and lie about it.

It’s not like the person on the other end of the line had no idea exactly what he was proposing. Even if the dev isn’t experienced at negotiating something like this you can bet the person on the other end of the line was.

Actually, I'm not sure if it's entirely clear to anyone on the other side (or even the world at large) how to value something. To a large extent, Reddit has drunk the cool aid and internalized that APIs are worth X. So going to a meeting with the implicit assumption that everyone knows that pricing is BS is not a safe assumption. They've already had the pricing discussion, so throwing more oblique references to BS pricing is not productive. It's like in a normal human argument. Once you are at an impasse, throwing more facts or presenting a logical paradox doesn't change the other person's mind.

The actual amounts were irrelevant to the offer. The author was clearly trying to feel out whether Reddit would be open to a buyout.

The response seems to be a resounding no.

> Why is he beating around the bush so much ?

He is asking for clarification, something you do when you have a good business relationship with someone.

> He wants to sell, shut down, or whatever for a $10M payout.

He doesn't. He is saying that 20$M is clearly overpriced and that if it was true then reddit would come up with a ludricous number like 10M to make that API be turned off. He just uses quiet because reddit described the API use as Loud.

It's not an offer, it's calling someone's bluff out.

Think in poker someone says "my hand is worth 20 million" and you got pretty good cards you would tell them "go all in because I am gonna keep covering whatever you raise" and then they do not go All In, you got a pretty good case to think their initial comment was not true.

Bad negotiation because the other end owns the platform, has all the leverage. Apollo simply cannot stand up and leave the table, which is what reddit predictably did.

Let that be the lesson: don't sink your time (and money) into building OSS (or a business) on top of a platform. It's like building on sand.

This guy had a job he loved running his own business for 8 years. Yes, it can get taken away in an instant, but that doesn’t seem like a terrible deal to me in hindsight.

Not sure I agree. Apollo is apparently monetizing these users above and beyond what Reddit is/was able to accomplish. I’m confident that this represents value to Reddit > 0. So Reddit may have leverage, but not all the leverage.

If you have a quick and high return, it can be very much worth it.

The business plan and your personal savings should reflect that it can (and will) disappear in an instant.

I genuinely don't understand the "pay me 10 million to save half on 20 million of costs" negotiation tactic... if they wanted to save money, why wouldn't they just shut down the API access?

20 million/year is how much the Apollo users would bring in when served ads (the opportunity costs).

Reddit pays Apollo 10M, starts serving their ads in the app, and now rakes in 20M/year without any extra effort.

Conversely, now they need to convince all the angry users of Apollo to come back to use their shitty website/app, something that will never happen. A lot of people that aren’t even using Apollo are going to be angry at the mistreatment and leave the site altogether. On the whole it’s quite likely that Reddit’s losses will amount to more than the 10M they’d have to pay once to get a ton of money in the future.

That sounds like a reasonable benefit to bargain over, but only if you have a great negotiator to make it happen.

Wouldn’t happen. $20M number is completely BS.

That’s on Reddit. The exact number doesn’t really matter for purposes of this explanation, and I suspect it doesn’t really matter to the Apollo creator either. It could be 2M or 500K, the equations remain the same.

The whole thing was just to illustrate the point that he thinks the Apollo API access is worth nowhere near $20 million a year in opportunity cost.

They say somewhere that the 20m is from opportunity cost, so 10m for an app that's "costing" them 20m a year would be a deal.

Exactly. They’re not doing the deal because the $20M is complete BS.

It's not a negotiation tactic. It is a joke because the numbers they are talking about are a joke. He's saying that if they think Apollo is can make Reddit 20 million a year then just pay him 10 million and they can keep the change. The truth is both sides know these numbers are b*llsh*t.

if they wanted to save money, why wouldn't they just shut down the API access

They are. They're just pretending they aren't. No one is going to pay the amount they're charging.

I’m a lawyer and listening to this call was absolutely painful. I like to think I’m a pretty decent negotiator, and agree that there was likely a few million here were this handled competently.

Don’t be afraid to bring people in when something is outside your area of expertise.

His app icon was showcased front and center at the WWDC keynote, something I always thought was bought with money, for (I assume) free. It has tons of users including paying users. I have a very hard time imagining being able to sell the app right now for less than 10 figures. All this fight has shown me is that people will gladly pay for this app monthly

If he's leaving all that on the table out of spite, well thats his money to lose. But he shouldn't call the world unfair

As he mentions in the post, the main issue is the 30-day timeframe to completely rethink the business model of the app and move enough users over to paying subscriptions to not go bankrupt when the first API access bill comes in. The suggested API fees also seem quite unrealistic and it's unclear whether enough users would be willing to pay the necessary monthly fees to cover them.

Reddit's actions here make it pretty clear that they just want the app (all third-party apps) to shut down — if they actually wanted a solution they could easily lower the pricing to something more realistic and/or give a slightly longer transition period.

When our app has been featured in WWDC moments, it's at the discretion of Apple. I don't believe that it's paid, but more Apple choosing what they think are quality examples of apps to motivate developers.

>something I always thought was bought with money,

No. Apple chooses this on their own. Their internal teams find new and interesting apps, songs, etc.

When they announced the iPhone X, they used a band without telling them before. They asked the band to send them some music samples and just a generic "this might end up on an Apple marketing material one day". The band was shocked when it turned out to be THE song on THE intro video for the iPhone X.

Apollo still have some value. If there is another online mass migration, like with Digg, he can connect Apollo to whatever comes next. Maybe he even can affect the decision with his user base. Lemmy could over night have a much larger user base if Apollo switched to them.


I love him. He is showing how labor needs to fight.

There's a reason labor is losing power to owners and it's because they aren't having fights like Christian.

Christian is showing how to give our children a future.

Well done to Christian for remaining calm, professional, and engaging with this process in an honest way, standing up for his users, but not attacking Reddit or its staff with emotion, just stating facts and holding them to account in a considered way. He comes across as a mature individual and one that I'm sure many would want to deal with in business or hire as an engineer or leader.

In a way, Reddit couldn't have asked for a worse outcome, they have come out looking terrible and he has come out looking great and defining the community discussion.


Read the post, listen to the audio of the actual context of that comment in the call. It wasn't blackmail, and was addressed in the submission. He also lives in a country that doesn't require all parties to consent to recording, and it wasn't until Reddit accused him of blackmail that he released his evidence.. Seems reasonable and level headed to me.

I thought I did??? Honestly feels like we're talking about that dress that's blue&black or white&gold.

> He also lives in a country that doesn't require all parties to consent to recording

Ok it's not technically illegal it's just extremely unprofessional. If a business did that people would erupt.

He threatened them three times. Pay him 10 million dollars and he'll go away quietly, or else he'll send the reddit mob at them. Which is exactly what he just did when they didn't pay. He tried as hard as he could to do it. The actual audio with his tone of voice is way worse than the transcript. He told them 3 times just pay 10 million dollars and: "I could make it really easy on you", "we can both skip off into the sunset", "Bob's your uncle", "And have Apollo quiet down". Later he says Oh haha just kidding, I'm a "noisy API user".

> Ok it's not technically illegal it's just extremely unprofessional. If a business did that people would erupt.

The CEO of the company spread a rumour, knowing its false, about him. That is Slander and it IS illegal.

Lying at the start of the year about how you do not have a short or medium term plan for an api payed model and then in June springing 30 day time period (when apple apps review can take two weeeks by itself) is extremely unprofessional but not illegal.

See the difference?

> The CEO of the company spread a rumour, knowing its false, about him. That is Slander and it IS illegal.

It's something that's obviously true. It would usually be way more subtle.

> It's something that's obviously true.

Explain? How does someone apologise 4 times for misunderstanding something and then turn around and pretend they never apologised behind that persons back and that the initial comment was made maliciously?

CEO of reddit is allowed to mishear things, he is also allowed to apologise and move on once things have been clarified.

What is illegal is to then go and say things that are demostrably false that affect someones reputation or chance of employment. If Christian goes to a single interview, meeting, sales pitch etc and someone even makes the briefest comment about "we don't wanna be blackmailed later", he can take Steve Hauffman all the way in front of a judge. Play the phone tape and collect more money that way than any number of years running Apollo.

The again Steve Hauffman changed someones comment on reddit which is a change in production which I am also sure its on very grey rea of legality, specially when people have their reddit account tied to their person, or business. If Retures europe posted about Ukraine and he changed their comment I am sure that would certainly be illegal, he only gets away because he did it to a private citizen and because the ethics board of reddit didn't fire him on the spot as they should have

The developer of Apollo is clearly asking for money. Even in the thread he made today he wrote "Why doesn't Reddit just buy Apollo and other third-party apps?" and then linked to a comment saying Apollo should ask for 100 million dollars. His ask for 10 million dollars wasn't a joke. He is thinking that while reddit is mad, he can get the money just to go away.

How can you say this, when the phone call is right there. You can listen to it yourself that is not what is being said. So much so that the Reddit person on the call apologises up to 4 times.

Would you apologise once, much less 4 times if you where being blackmailed?

Like this is just denial of reality, you have the phone call, we all do, what kind of nonsense attempt of gaslighting is this?

It's a good example of poor reading comprehension. The actual question is "If reddit wants to charge 20M, then why not buy out the app?". It's a valid hypothetical question and a valid possible business outcome. There's nothing threatening about asking that as a hypothetical, that many other redditors have been asking as well. The point of meetings is to address such concerns.

> Honestly feels like we're talking about that dress that's blue&black or white&gold.

We are but and it's a perfect analogy. The dress was objectively blue and black but some people saw it as white and gold. You're team white and gold here.

I don't know how anyone can reasonably come to this conclusion from the post and from his interviews. If you can elaborate on your reasoning I'm keen to hear it because this whole situation is wild enough that I feel like there should be two sides to it, but so far I've not heard anything concrete, only personal attacks, unsubstantiated and refuted technical criticism, and straw-man arguments about monetising the API, something he is clearly in favour of.

Apollo is such an incredibly high quality app — in fact, it’s so good that I haven’t had it installed on my phone in a couple of years because when I have it I spend way too much time on Reddit.

The features, the polish, the customizability — everything about it is really top notch.

I always enthusiastically recommended it to my friends telling them it felt more like a native first-party Apple app than any actual native first-party Apple app.

I agree. I'm not a mobile dev but I am a software dev and I'm continually impressed by how good an app Apollo is. It's one of the apps I use that seem like they should be the standard for quality.

Totally agree. In fact, it was so good it allowed me to enjoy Reddit far more than I could have without it. And spend far more time on Reddit than I would have. Killing Apollo kills my desire to use Reddit.

That’s one advantage of the janky mobile site and the official app — I spend way less time on Reddit!

I use both Apollo for iOS and Sync on Android and I would give the edge to Sync for polish, aesthetics and customizability.

.........aaaaaaand Reddit Sync "will shut down on June 30, 2023"



I had never heard of it before this. Could he just make a backend for it and take his users with him?

He addressed it in the post, he's not really interested in that kind of work.

Technically possible, but not really feasible due to the way Reddit is set up and people who signed up for the app agreed to. It would be a gigantic mess, and I reckon he's not interested in creating a new social platform/link aggregate which is why he would rather refund the ~$250k.

You should read the post, he addresses this in it.

This never struck me as a realistic option. The Apollo user base is orders of magnitude less than Reddit, and, even though Apollo is an incredible iOS app, the primary benefit of a large social network like Reddit is the social network.

Might be a pretty big legal argument if he just copied Reddit backend functionality. Would probably have to redesign the front end from the ground up as well to make it clear it’s not just a rip off.

I don't remember the specific case at the moment, but a few years back I think Oracle was suing Google (or some mix of big companies) about Google replicating the Java api but with a complete from-scratch backend reimplementation. Google wasn't using private Oracle source code, just building a replacement that used the publicly published api. Google won the case, and it I remember right that established public api's as non copyright or something. Again, not a lawyer and someone else probably has the details better than I do.

But reddit is so much more than an API… and I can’t imagine anyone wants to deal with the user-generated-content hell of actually hosting that kind of platform.

Google could afford it. They're still in sore need of a good social network.

No need for a front end, he’s got the app, that’s the whole point

I don’t think cloning products is illegal, and can’t find any patents held by Reddit.

I see two pretty distinct issues here: 1) most people's favourite app is going to die, and 2) many subreddits will be negatively affected by this move: prime example is /r/AskHistorians.

Personally, 1) is not really an issue and people are enjoying the outrage train, and that's ok and valid and whatever, but it's a third party app. It's a no-brainer decision to try to kill it if it's hindering your ability to make more money. At the mid term is a great incentive for Reddit to improve their shitty app experience ("but Ads!" yeah, ads of course, you're not paying shot for using it, it's an impopular but pragmatic business model)

But 2) it's the one that's really concerning. Hopefully they reverse this course for this point specifically cause this has a measurable impact on eyeballs, which ultimately means money.

inb4: "Apollo dying means less eyeballs too dummy", yeah as I mentioned before the outrage is the fad. Once it passes, will see how much people actually leaves (little to none alternatives for Reddit btw). My bet is that could result in a small hump, if anything, in the long run.

That is of course their right, but they way they went about it is really scummy. Third-party apps, and the user-contributed content they engendered, built Reddit. Without its users, Reddit has nothing, is nothing. Just another forum site.

They could have simply said "Due to business pressures, we're going to stop offering our API in 1 year" and honestly, nobody would have blinked an eye.

Or they could have said "Due to business pressures, we're going to include advertisements in the API. Any clients found deliberately not displaying the ads will have their API keys permanently revoked."

Or they could have said "Due to business pressures, we're going to stop offering free API access. Users who subscribe to Reddit can use their own personal API keys with a limit of 1000 calls per day."

They did none of those things; they raised prices to a point that was completely untenable and gave app developers 30 days to FOAD.

I think issue 3, especially in relation to a potential IPO, is Reddit's leadership again demonstrating a flippant willingness to lie and distort reality to suit their purposes and the carelessness to get caught doing it.

Surely there is a reasonable business case to be made for this policy change. Attempted character assassination of a 3rd party developer with blatant falsehoods, not so much. I dunno, maybe they aren't worried and there's plenty of investors an wall street ready to hand over big bags of money to a demonstrated liar.

> Most people's favourite app is going to die

Why is this not an issue for user's protesting? I use Relay for Reddit on Android and I think it's absolutely the best way to view Reddit on mobile if you're a fan of old.reddit.com.

That app is going to die and I say screw them. I owe reddit nothing. If they want to turn the site into something that I don't want to use because it makes them more money that way. Good luck with that but I won't be around to see it.

I'd gladly pay for Reddit Premium (which has no ads) to continue to use 3rd party apps that I like. But it's not about the money or the ads -- it's about control.

That's ok, you've certainly used their services for free, as most of us, and they don't owe you anything.

I get the feeling that some people are trying to spin this into a crusade of sorts, I fully get this feeling from your words.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with that I guess, but look a the big picture as well: you've used the services of a private company for years, paying zero cents. They made a business decision after potentially delaying it for years, and you rant about control. This outrage makes little sense, we don't own Reddit, never had. We're just making noise because some of us confused private property for their own.

I absolutely get your point. I'm not saying they're not free to make whatever business decisions they want -- of course they are. And, of course, I want Reddit to be profitable and survive.

But if they're profitability involves alienating me as a user then I'm going to be alienated and I'm going to act like I'm alienated. I think the outrage makes perfect sense in this case. I'm equally outraged at other companies doing things that manipulate their customers for a tiny bit more profit (like shrinkflation).

Ironically they could have turned this situation into profit from me as I'm happy to pay for Reddit if it was required to allow me to use it in the way that I'm accustomed. Instead of embracing me as a customer, they want me gone.

Valid point. I think people are turning this into a 'crusade' partly because they are just shocked and appalled by the way Reddit handled this whole thing.

In the end, it's their site and their decision to make, but it's understandable many people are upset by their actions and no longer want to use the site (which, btw, even if you were using it for "free" you may have been contributing in other ways via posts, comments, moderation, etc).

It also means losing potential customers - I would have been willing to upgrade to Reddit Premium to continue using Apollo, for example, but now I wouldn't even consider it.

> And there's nothing inherently wrong with that I guess, but look a the big picture as well: you've used the services of a private company for years, paying zero cents.

While that's not false, look at it the other way: I've provided content for a private company for years, taking zero payment. Millions of us have. Reddit lives and dies by user submissions and comments, and taking what seems to be a stance that's wildly hostile to users feels very foolish to me.

To me that makes even less sense. You provided that content knowingly for free, voluntarily, fair and square. No one forced you to, it wasn't an unfair nine to five job. You decided to do it.

Can you realistically expect to have some sort of return, wether in control or whatever for that? It feels more aligned to a tantrum rather than a coherent argument. Have we consiously forget how Web 2.0 works?

What is causing #2? Do the mods use Apollo exclusively or something?

The change isn't about Apollo exclusively, Reddit is going to start charging for their API. Basically all remotely adequate (which Reddit's 1st party tools aren't) moderation tools make extensive use of said API, so Reddit has basically decided "Hey, people who do most of the work necessary to keep our platform afloat for free, mind if you start paying us for the privilege?"

Cue people being understandably upset.

Not Apollo (though some might) but tons of moderation extensions and tooling which goes through the api.

https://reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/142w159/askhisto... covers the moderation side.

https://reddit.com/r/Blind/comments/13zr8h2/reddits_recently... Talks about accessibility.

Here's the take by the mentioned AskHistorians: https://old.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/142w159/askh...

Most communities rely on third party moderation services and tools which will also be impacted by the API changes. Many have said that moderating larger communities will be untenable without them.

Yep. While I'm not 100% positive, I also think mods that have certain disabilities (like blindness) rely on the app extensively.

> It's a no-brainer decision to try to kill it if it's hindering your ability to make more money

The no-brainer decision would be to make your app a lot better than any third-party app instead of pulling the rug from under people whose work has made reddit better in the long-run.

> 1) most people's favourite app is going to die

Third party apps representing less than 5% of Reddit's traffic, this is by far not "most people's" favorite app.

Maybe so. But this situation has been blown up so much that now more than 5% of Reddit's traffic probably has a sour taste in their mouth about how Reddit treats people. This is something that's going to affect a lot more than 5% of their traffic as mod tools, bots, and more go down.

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