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Alexis and Steve are leaving Reddit (reddit.com)
172 points by shimon 3010 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

On one hand, I'm a little surprised. On the other, I'm not: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/9clji/where_did_m...

In fact, it has nothing to do with our departure. We've been preparing for this for the last 6 months or so.

It's not that I suspected that specific issue made you guys decide to leave, It's more of I'm somewhat surprised you're leaving at all. Then again, I saw it coming when spez posted "Ask me again in a couple of months".

Anyway, thanks for building an awesome site. Have fun in Armenia, and good luck in whatever you do after that.

Ah, indeed. Well, thanks for using reddit and making it awesome. We know it would be a pretty crappy site if only Steve and I were still submitting the links like back on day 0.

Out of curiosity, how long after you guys started it did you start seeing a lot of people other than you post links?

I run a similar website and it has just been my friends and I posting for about a year now (which is fine with us)...interestingly (and one of the coolest feelings I've ever gotten, I'm sure you can totally relate) somebody that I had never even heard of posted my website to yours last night and told people to check it out...Since then we've gotten about 200 signups (and 3-4 people that have been hanging out on there all day today).

Was it pretty quick after you launched reddit that you started seeing a ton of people using it? I had quite a while ago accepted that it would likely just be my friends and I posting on mine...

A little under two weeks, after a PG mention in an essay. Sounds like you got a similar boost from a reddit appearance (oh, if only we'd had reddit to promote on back then...). Be sure to engage those users, especially if they write you; users who care enough to write feedback -- that's gold.

Then a week or so after that, we had a splendid day - neither Steve nor I needed to submit any links, we just used the site like anyone else.

It was a good thing, too, because I was hitting my limit of aliases&passwords to remember.

A little under two weeks

Well I definitely feel like a loser now, haha.

Glad I saw you posting here. I'm sure that it's gotten old by now (although I hope it hasn't) but seriously good job on reddit. That website is leaps and bounds about its competition (who is its competition anyhow? digg? fark?). I've spent more time there than I have anywhere else...truly an awesome awesome awesome community.

I hope you guys realize that, to people like me, you are literally a superstar, thanks a lot for responding to my question :).

Like a loser? Nonsense! The important part of that sentence is "after a PG mention in an essay." Just get PG to start a radical new kind of investment firm and be the first portfolio company to launch, then make sure he writes an essay where he namedrops you with a link -- easy as pie!

Seriously, though, that had a lot to do with getting reddit off to such a good start. Who wouldn't want a bunch of PG readers to set the tone of their social news website? :)

Hope you keep coming back to our Internet crack. I'd consider any website trying to steal people's attention when they're bored at work competition :) but the Internet is a big place, there's plenty of room.

I thought that I'd let you know, I got so addicted to Reddit once that I had to block it in order to get my life back. Good luck with your new ventures! You've done some awesome stuff.

Me too. I started reading Reddit when I read a PG easy, I think he was talking about how he didn't liked the name or so, but then was great and simple.

I stopped reading reddit when I found the more serious Hacker News, and saw Reddit as the site of reunion of "We are superior, rational people, reason is the only important thing in the world" male character. Cult of radical Misogyny and Atheism.

What's your site? :)

Congrats on the fellowship! Good luck and have fun making a difference with emerging economies.

Thanks, and if any of you are on kiva - you'd better friend me ;) I won't hit you up for loans, just tempt you with matching promises.


At one point,probably right at the beginning,Reddit was a bona-fide news-aggregation site. Now, its just an outpost of 4Chan, at least the main page definitely is. Nothing wrong with that except the contents and quality of comments and postings have gone into a completely different direction.

At least on 4chan you can't get downmodded for posting facts that the groupthink finds inconvenient.

That seems to be the real advantage of anonymous discussion: you don't think to yourself "will I get downvoted/flamed/etc for posting this comment?" Though, as 4chan has proven, the level of discourse on an anonymous forum is just as proportional to the maturity of its members... as it is anywhere else.

If you dig deeper there is still a lot of good stuff. It turns out that the idea of having each subreddit be a small 'community' kinda works. Each day my wife checks out /r/Frugal just to see if there is anything new. She doesn't really have any use for the rest of the site unless she's REALLY trying to kill time but the Frugal reddit does a great job of aggregating stories she's interested in.

If all you look at are /r/funny, /r/pics and /r/politics then you're missing out.

This is something we still need to improve. Too few visitors to reddit understand or even know about how this vast network of user-created reddits should work. See, here I go wanting to mock a new redesign up in photoshop...

I've been a reddit lurker for 4 years, and I was one of the hordes clamoring for tags back in the day. When subreddits were introduced instead, I was a bit disappointed. But now, these many years later, I can see how the subreddits become independent communities in a way that tags would never have accomplished.

I'm still proud of you guys for that decision. Thanks for a great site that I still spend way too much time reading every day.

The main problem is, reddit isn't helping its users discover those needles in the haystack. It's down to serndipity or sheer bloodymindedness clicking next next next while looking through the list of subreddits. Maybe leaving users to create other sites mapping out reddit is a good idea, but reddit could do a lot more to aid discovery.

i like: /r/programming /r/gamedev /r/games /r/relationship_advice ;)

I don't know about that. Sure, there's lots of 4chanism, but I'm also constantly impressed by the community helping each other out and providing interesting perspectives on a huge variety of topics (see the IAmA SubReddit in particular).

I <3 IAmA. And it's entirely reddit-generated and -run. Give users easy tools and get out of the way - you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I started reading reddit regularly again when I discovered IAmA.

Congrats and good luck on your next adventure.

Reddit is still my favorite site on the internet. I can't count the number of times I've laughed out loud while reading AskReddit and IAmA. My wife probably spends 2-3 hours a day on reddit. We both have reddit t-shirts. Yeah, I'm a fan.

Am I the only one who has the opposite impression of Reddit? Maybe I should read more of the humor reddits instead of the "serious" ones, 'cos my impression of Reddit's userbase is a group of judgmental, yet poorly informed people, yelling and screaming at things about which they know little.

I actually installed a Greasemonkey script to filter for words like tazer and Sears :S

It's still incredible how much throughput reddit can push for content of all types - but I've long since given up trying to read the comments (Slashdot on the other hand, seems to be maintaining its quality of discussion fairly well).

What'd you think about the new 'xkcd' sort we implemented for comments last week?


> Slashdot on the other hand, seems to be maintaining its quality of discussion fairly well

See, news.yc can be funny too!

No you are not the only one. I guess Reddit comments in most part are not to be taken seriously?

But good, insightful discussion and commentary is infinitely more interesting than any source article by itself. 'Tis why I read Slashdot and HN.


Some link got posted a while back that made Sears look bad. AFAIK Sears threatened somehow and got the link taken off. Reddit responded en masse by flooding submissions with more anti-Sears content than they could deal with. For most of the day the entire front page of Reddit was just things like "Sears rapes babies" or such.

Reddit is the ultimate source of kneejerk vigilante internet "justice". I cannot count how many times someone has been able to stir the Reddit crowd into a self-righteous murderous frenzy over something that turned out to be fraudulent, a hoax, or just completely overblown. For a bunch of self-proclaimed progressives the community in general seems to be utterly incapable of independent critical thought. IMHO Reddit would make a terrific psychology study on mob mentality.

Uh, clearly you have never read /b/. (Reddit is /b/ for people that don't want as much child porn mixed in with their political campaigns.)

I'm thrilled to hear it. Especially the part about you both having t-shirts. In all these years I still haven't met any stranger randomly in public (at a non-reddit event) wearing a reddit shirt - yet we've sold thousands...

One day... (and I know I'm going to act like such a freak when I accost them).

Alexis, Shalen here. I just wore that green Reddit shirt you sent me today at Microsoft. Oh btw, one time I'd Reddit shirt on and the bouncer at a bar waiver my cover. He said, "Reddit alien, you go free!" :)

w00t! Did you breakdance thru Microsoft with it on, tho? That's a pretty great bouncer trick - I'll have to try it sometime. See, reddit will open doors for you... maybe it's become a geekier Illuminati?

Alexis and Steve: how much of this had to do with the 'censorship' you alluded to when the atheism/front-page and sears/'hacking' issues happened?

I see to recall a comment from one of you saying that you couldn't talk about it much now, but you would be able to 'in a couple months.'

(FYI This took so long because of some bad wifi)

We had been making these arrangements for the last six months.

edit: As for why I didn't leave earlier. There's the obvious carrot, but frankly, the 'stick' wasn't that bad. I operated almost identically as during our startup days (no oversight, no one to get approval) and with that kind of freedom (compared to my last job, in a parking garage where I had to ask to use the bathroom), doing work that I very much enjoyed, I had no good reason to leave early.

Though they're not regarded as a tech-savvy company (and there's a good argument for why), Conde Nast handled us remarkably well - especially through the lens of how most post-acquisition stories go.

Ultimately, though, it's hard to reproduce the feeling and attachment that comes with starting a startup (or starting anything of one's own). And that's why it felt like the right time to move on when my contract ended.

I thought they were leaving due to it being the end of their vesting period

Sure. But they probably had the option to stay longer and possibly could've left earlier if they wanted to violate their contract and lose money. (This is speculation on my part. I have no idea what the terms of the conde nast sale were)

Congrats, Alexis & Steve! Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Thanks! I'm going to try and get my http://breadpig.posterous.com going, but there's always http://alexisohanian.com if you'd like the scoop on what we're working on next...

reddit is going to be hard to top, or even match, so please keep your expectations measured :)

It's funny how much weight we put in past success as an indicator of future success, no matter how much we may repeat the mantra that it's not. Going from spec-ing out features for reddit with Steve in an apartment to acquisition 16months later is the kind of thing that can only happen with a tremendous amount of chance.

Congrats! You guys made something that really has changed the internets. I'm convinced that Ron Paul wouldn't have even been on the political radar this past fall had it not been for Reddit. That's pretty impressive when you think about it.

And, I'm going to be launching a social news site soon geared towards business/financial topics. I'd love to be able to pick your brain a bit about the process of building reddit. I think you guys would have some pretty amazing insights to offer. I'd love to pick your brain over coffee and/or beer at some point. If you're interested, ping me: iamelgringo at google's_email_service dot com

I hope you're taking advantage of our open-source reddit code.


Email on the way. I've always encouraged folks to bring on the competition :) social news is far from done.

You guys were the original YC success story.

Can someone explain what benefit Conde Nast sees in owning reddit?

I'm not trying to be offensive or anything, I just don't understand how reddit fits into the Conde Nast business.

(and yeah, I realize this question is about three years late to the party)

I think the demographic that uses reddit is often regarded as the most difficult and skeptical demographic to market to. Owning reddit probably gives them some fairly useful data and allows them to monitor trends and perhaps better position their more-for-retail brands to attract this user-base.

I agree with this sentiment, though I wish the reality were more like your theory for smarter brand positioning. On paper, it's a very attractive demographic -- 26 median age, pre-dominently male, affluent and well-educated.

It's oft pitched as Wired readers, only about a decade younger (Wired is an extremely well loved brand by advertisers).

It says a lot about society in general when you consider Reddit users to be "well-educated".

During the courtship, here's how I pitched it:

* Programming talent: Conde would be getting the foundation of an uber-talented programming culture in team reddit, which is the only way to beget more talented programmers (because I think you'll all agree that people like me -- that is, non-programmers -- can evaluate programming talent).

* Valuable destination: A community of the tastemakers for most of the Internet. Like it or not, most hot Internet links that aren't about nudity are first on the front page of reddit. Owning this front page of the web is an attractive proposition. Monetizing it is a bit more work, but we have always been a very scrappy [cheap] shop. Looking at 7M uniques this month with 6.5 employees (4.5 come Nov).

* Geek cred: This might be a bit of a stretch if I hadn't heard from folks like Ars Technica's Ken Fisher that the reddit acquisition (and how well it went) helped the decision to accept Conde's acquisiton offer. Furthermore, if you're thinking about hiring programmers down the line - because you know the Internet represents the future of publishing - it helps your pitch a bit more to say you own reddit than, say, Vogue.

Is reddit profitable (or could be)? That would be benefit enough.

I don't think every enterprise a company is engaged in must synergestically complement its other enterprises.

... especially Conde Nast. The advantages to running a media company "at scale" are many. Having a large selection of highly targetable demographics means that the ad sellers have "inventory" to pitch to whatever advertisers they want -- especially if they do things like present aggregate yearly incomes and so forth (which I assume Reddit would inflate.)

On a more important note, I think that they are just trying to bring the worlds of nerds and GQ together to bring about world peace.. ;)

Funny, it doesn't seem like that long ago that Aaron wrote that post about going out to celebrate Halloween right after they were acquired.

and ...scrunched up [his] face to look a little angry, and said "I'm a dot-com millionaire" with utter seriousness


I'd forgotten about this. I trust none of you take/took this as hard journalism, but it's good story-telling. I do remember that particular quote, though. I'm more of a Jack Sparrow guy myself (Hurray for 3 years of costume recycling! Gotta love sequels).

Re-reading this, three years later, I'm struck by how incredibly guilty Aaron appears to feel on the night of our acquisition. More than anything else, I know I felt relieved. Make no mistake, when you're working through it, there is nothing glamorous or care-free about slogging through a startup acquisition (yet I hope you can all enjoy that suffering one day with your respective startups).

I had a bad case of survivor's guilt that month. I got over it pretty soon afterward, though.

Good luck with your next endeavors guys. I still remember when kn0thing sent me some free reddit stickers for submitting feedback, back in '06.

Stickers, pins, and shirts are the currency of web 2.0 - I'm happy it left a lasting impression on you. Though I told myself (and probably a few others) that this kind of thing helped, it's nice to hear some anecdotal evidence. Thanks (and for using reddit for so long).

The stickers had symbolic value. The fact that you acknowledged my feedback with something more than an automated thank you email was what left a lasting impression.

The reddit alien was my first bumper sticker. At some point I thought about what made me put it on my car and I realized that the flattering human acknowledgment I received to the feedback made me feel like I was responsible for a tiny bit of all that was good with Reddit.

I have since used this approach (it's almost insulting to call it a tactic) to my own advantage with my startup. So thank you, for what the stickers taught me :)

If I had met you at a party and you had given me some free Reddit stickers it would not have meant as much.

Would have done exactly the same thing in their shoes.

And just remember, without Reddit, all we'd have is Digg and ultra cool Kevin Rose hipsters dancing in the streets.. What an awful world that would be..

Best of luck to Alexis and Steve and thanks for your awesome contribution to the landscape.

Am I the only one feeling bad?

Thanks you guys for building such an awesome community. The internet was different after reddit.

For me it is very difficult to love a startup after the founders have left. Not very logical I know. I guess I will use reddit again, but for now I have given up my dream of buying a t-shirt from the stores. I don't feel like doing so.

Don't feel like that! What makes reddit so awesome is the community that these guys have built. It's not like they're going to suddenly stop being funny because the founders left!

I'm sure they'll both keep posting and using the site...keep in mind that it's been their baby for like, 4 years. I'll bet they use it everyday; it would be like me trying to give up reddit, pretty much impossible since I've used it every day for the last couple of years.

I say get a narwahl shirt, it makes other redditors easier to spot!

I bet they're applying for the YC W09 round!

If you get a chance, do ask Steve what Twitter-app he's working on for the new YC round :)

Congrats Alexis & Steve!

On to Breadpig! We all know that will be worth a lot more than Reddit.

Somehow I think there won't be a liquidity event with breadpig...

Congrats guys!

Thank you. Good job. Good luck.

At the Startup Bootcamp, I thought he was alluding to this.

Curses! What tipped you off?

Leaving long after any of their user base over the age of sizteen I would have thought.

Ahh, sweet sizteen, to have that year all over again...

    Some people say social media's made from slinging mud
    Reddit's made from users and CRUD
    Users and CRUD, and Alexis and Steve
    A coterie that loves them and the trolls that are peeved
    I write sizteen comments, and what do I get?
    A hundred fifty karma, procrastination and regret
    Li'l alien don't you call me 'cause I can't go
    I owe my soul to reddit/store

Kind of ironic for someone from Reddit to nitpick over a typo...

Actually, when Reddit first added comments, I read many meta-comments about grammar/punctuation/spelling. I remember being surprised by how much people cared considering they were comments on a website.

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