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How Reddit was created: ‘I wanted to make the world suck less’ (venturebeat.com)
13 points by johnkoetsier on Nov 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

So, I'm a bit confused. How is Reddit considered a success story by it's founders? Wasn't it sold off really early to Conde Nast? Didn't it only start to blast off into success-o-sphere like right after Digg started dying? Wasn't Conde Nast not providing resources to the team which, forced them to ask for donations (reddit gold) from the community to build more servers/hire? I mean, it all sounds like a big barrel of luck that it even survived.

It was sold quite early, but for a double digit million dollar pay out. For a while, it was the biggest YC exit. It has been spun back out into an independent subsidiary, which Alexis is involved in again in an executive role (Steve could have been, too, I'm sure, but he's working on Hipmunk).

What do you consider success for fresh out of college 20-somethings, if having a few million bucks in the bank, and having built one of the biggest sites on the Internet, isn't success?

I guess I was saying that a lot of things happened that were indicators that the site may have not been what it is today. I don't know how much money they have in their bank accounts but I'll bet all mine it's not millions from the reddit sale. I just get annoyed by the hype of a vision and someone be responsible for something that can't really be explained. If it really was that for them, as jay-z put it, they could create another one.

That would be a foolish bet. The value of the acquisition is known to have been in the low double digit millions. Probably 12-15. There were two founders, plus a third member of the team at the time of acquisition, and very little dilution from investment...the math is pretty easy.

Reddit gold is a freemium model, not donations. Are Conde Nast meant to continually bankroll something that doesn't generate profit?

I wonder how much those fake users really did towards pushing reddit to it's growth spurt.

They spent their time populating the site by hand because ultimately they knew that's how their users would do it.

The accounts they used weren't fake, they were just the two guys building a site with a lot of test accounts.

>The accounts they used weren't fake

Uh, yeah, they were. They intentionally created _false_ accounts of people with different names to give the impression that a lot of people were already submitting content to the site.

Unlike all those novelty accounts on reddit. Or, for that matter, unlike your username here, "kami8845", if that is your real name rather than a false name.

The accounts were real enough. They were people (Steve and Alexis) posting interesting stories to their own site. They just happened to give the illusion of lots of people doing it...which is kinda mandatory for a new site, if you want to kickstart it.

Do you not find that misleading to the other users on the site? People come along expecting links chosen by the wisdom of the crowds and end up just getting things two guys find interesting?

I was a reddit user back when they were populating it themselves. I was not offended to learn later, after meeting them, that they'd made up accounts to populate the site.

I enjoyed the really high quality links they posted; that was the only "contract" I felt like I had with reddit at that point. There was no discussion in the beginning, so the links were all there was, and they were high quality (i.e. I enjoyed reading the linked stories). Faking a community would be much harder, so it's lucky they didn't have to. By the time comments were a part of the experience at reddit, there were enough actual users to make it happen.

This has always been the case on Reddit. The list of top 10 users ranked by their comment karma is made up of less than 10 actual people.

What are we supposed to learn from this?

I love Reddit, but I find their story depressing. Everyone has fun personal projects that they make, but a lucky few will have them become wildly popular without much planning for reasons they can't foresee. I don't feel like I can learn anything from that, and it makes me feel very unlucky and that fate is largely out of my control.

Did you watch the video? If you watch it through to the end, you see the determination, conviction and sincerity that these guys have, which would have put them ahead of anyone else trying to do something similar (eg, Digg, in the long run).

No one denies that luck plays a big part in how successful any given startup will turn out to be.

But everyone can do things to make their chances of success higher, and the magnitude of that success greater, through the way they conduct themselves and the decisions they make about what they do.

You're implying that projects that aren't successful lack determination, conviction, and sincerity. This is not the case at all.

I didn't imply any such thing; I said luck plays a big role.

Luck was a big factor in Reddit's early success. But luck wouldn't have helped them if they didn't have a good idea ans put in the work.

And luck, as they say, is something you can make, by spending enough time operating with determination, conviction and sincerity, and by learning enough about the world to pick projects that will have a higher chance of success.

But from your comments in this thread, you seem like a pretty cynical, defeatist person, which could be a pretty big handicap in your quest for success - if indeed that is something you really want.

The article is quite superficial, so not much unless you were clueless to the beginnings of reddit. That said, a lot of things are actually out of your control. You can't make everyone like the thing you want to work on and people often don't even know what they want to see next. Its not about doing projects just because they are fun and lucking out. These guys were actively trying to make a successful product and had to pivot from their original direction.

There were countless sites that copied "social news" after the decline of Digg though. All were trying to be successful and really only one succeeded.

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