The rise and rise of reddit

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Earlier this month, social news site reddit became operationally independent from its owner Condé Nast Publications, forming Reddit Inc. as a subsidiary of Advance Publications, Condé Nast’s parent company. Condé Nast acquired Reddit in October 2006, when reddit was still considered the smaller, tighter knit, cousin of Digg.

Back then reddit was receiving around 700 000 page views per day. Now reddit “routinely gets that much traffic in 15 minutes“. Over the last four years reddit has been steadily growing into one of the less well known, but more influential online social communities. Probably most impressively, it is a site with more than 18.8-million monthly unique visitors and a development team only recently increased to five.

For those who have never heard of reddit, it is a socially powered news aggregation site. Users can submit links to anything interesting they find on the web (or simply post their own text). Other users may then “upvote” or “downvote” these links. Links that are upvoted more rise to the front-page for everyone to see, whereas links that are downvoted linger on the back pages where they are seldom seen. Users can also comment on these links, and can further upvote and downvote these comments.

This means that the reddit community democratically creates or selects and then orders the content it views. With such a massive userbase, front page links can garner tens of thousands of page-views to a specific source. This “Reddit bump” is known for overwhelming smaller websites, but otherwise can provide valuable advertising revenue to various corners of the internet.

Despite its rapid growth of users, over the years the community seems to have been more of a headache for Condé Nast than anything else. It has never been a particularly profitable enterprise. It is a completely open-source project (with the exception of its anti-spam features) and all its code is available freely on Github. Its only income is in the form of limited advertising and Reddit Gold, an optional premium service for US$3.99 per month that offers new features to users. Other than that, the site is powered by the weight of its user participation.

Reddit and Condé Nast have often been at odds over various issues. Possibly the most famous example being a disagreement over Prop 19 adverts, when Condé Nast disallowed adverts for the legalisation of marijuana on reddit. When reddit asked why, the official response from above was “As a corporation, Condé Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue.” In resistance to this stance, reddit decided to make use of the loophole in this response and ran the ads for free.

Reddit is known for a hive-mind that is predominantly liberal, vehemently counter-corporate and counter-commercialisation. It is also more focused on developing its own community than on building a sustainable and profitable business. Reddit staff have also complained in the past that they are treated as second class citizens in the Condé Naste hierarchy. With such a conflictual relationship, reddit has essentially had to finance itself independently under its parent, with reddit revenue going back into the site and very little dripping down from above.

Digg’s spectacular and public implosion in 2010, however, allowed reddit to overtake its long term rival into a place of internet prominence. With the raise in users and stature, came the need for more money for staff and development.

This split from Condé Nast has been a long denied rumour. With reddit’s growth, and conflicting nature to its previous owner, it was only a matter of time before something snapped. This split should benefit both entities in the end. It also means that Reddit Inc. is now in need of a CEO, with no indications so far of who this might be. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for the future of “the front page of the internet”.

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  • Lou Franklin

    What do you base your claims about reddit’s profitiability on? The pre-Reddit-Gold blog post?

    For all you know, they could be extremely profitable now.

  • Anonymous

    Reddit is not profitable.  That’s why they still need their “Reddit Gold” charity program to keep them afloat.  Reddit has come right out and admitted their revenue “isn’t great” (http://blog.reddit.com/2010/07/reddit-needs-help.html).

    Conde Nast is often made to look like the bad guy, but they kept pumping money into reddit month after month with no hope of a return on their investment.  The site is a proven financial loser and if it weren’t for Conde Nast artificially propping it up, it would have shut down years ago.

    The biggest problem for reddit is their reputation.  They actually host forums for beating women, rape, and pictures of dead children.  There are literally thousands of these types of horrible subReddits and millions of pornography posts.  With this kind of content, there is no exit strategy for reddit.  No company will buy the site because nobody wants their corporate image tarnished by this type of filth.

    This is a good article, but the title is wrong.  The only thing “on the rise” about reddit is the pageviews.  Not profitability, not saleability, and certainly not decency.

  • Anonymous

    Reddit is not profitable.  That’s why they still need their “Reddit Gold” charity program to keep them afloat.  Reddit has come right out and admitted their revenue “isn’t great” (http://blog.reddit.com/2010/07/reddit-needs-help.html).

    Conde Nast is often made to look like the bad guy, but they kept pumping money into reddit month after month with no hope of a return on their investment.  The site is a proven financial loser and if it weren’t for Conde Nast artificially propping it up, it would have shut down years ago.

    The biggest problem for reddit is their reputation.  They actually host forums for beating women, rape, and pictures of dead children.  There are literally thousands of these types of horrible subReddits and millions of pornography posts.  With this kind of content, there is no exit strategy for reddit.  No company will buy the site because nobody wants their corporate image tarnished by this type of filth.

    This is a good article, but the title is wrong.  The only thing “on the rise” about reddit is the pageviews.  Not profitability, not saleability, and certainly not decency.

  • Lou Franklin

    That’s the “pre-Reddit-Gold blog post” I was referring to. It said they don’t get to hire because they’re not profitable. And now they’re hiring like crazy. Interesting…

    P.S. Does your name really start with the same letters as mine, or is that some way of mocking me?

  • Anonymous

    Did you read the article?  The “development team only recently increased to five”.  That is “hiring like crazy”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Stone/542770717 Matthew Stone

    From an outside perspective it is difficult to tell whether this is two people with similar names arguing, or a madman arguing with himself. I’m going to assume the former.

    To the original Lou Franklin, the pre-Reddit-Gold post, as well as other comments from the pre-gold era, are my main source for that comment. Reddit have claimed that the Reddit Gold freemium system has been a success, and have helped them tremendously with profitability. The comment was more retrospective, relating to how Reddit as a website has never been (emphasis on particularly) profitable considering it’s massive userbase and traffic. I do doubt that Reddit Gold has, within a year, taken a company that was struggling to find enough money to upgrade its servers and hire more developers and turned in into one that I would refer to as “particularly profitable”. But you are right, I may be wrong here. They certainly are making more money than they did before.

    To the second LouFr, Reddit is an open platform for any discussion, decent or otherwise. The same way, that Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter content can be defamatory, prejudice or otherwise indecent, so too can Reddit. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the embarrassing fact that (according to Alexa at least) “jailbait” is one of the major search terms that leads to Reddit. Overall though, Reddit’s reputation depends on who you ask. It has subreddits as you say devoted to pictures of dead kids, but also ones devoted to random acts of kindness to other people in the world and human rights etc (which are far bigger and more active). It’s not exactly /b but it’s not exactly Disney either.

  • Reflibman

    The “Lou are potentially the same person, former Reddit user LouF who was kicked off of Reddit, something which happens to, say, one in a billion. You noted the craziness, also note they “both” have an anti-Reddit agenda.

  • Anonymous

    Reddit IS exactly /b.  Reddit’s reputation does NOT depend on who you ask.  This is a list of literally thousands of truly horrible subReddits: http://redditlist.com/nsfw-top-full.php.  Dude, Facebook doesn’t host forums for mocking rape victims; Reddit does.  Tumblr doesn’t ignore user complaints and choose to keep the “beating women” forum open; Reddit does.  Reddit is absolutely indefensible.

  • Pingback: New Reddit CEO sends out first public message | memeburn

  • Optamizm

    I think you’re smoking something…

    Avoid this review at all costs!

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

  • http://twitter.com/gearburn gearburn

    This is a fine review of a device with very little to offer in the way of innovation or hardware advancement. But of course, you are entitled to your own opinion and we welcome it with open arms :) If you’re looking for a decent tablet, try the PlayBook, iPad 3, Galaxy Tab 10.1 or even the Kindle Fire.

  • Optamizm

    This Tablet was released last year… How can you be talking about innovation and hardware advancement? I would say that it’s a lot more innovative and advanced than the original Galaxy Tab…

    The Playbook? I like Android, not BlackBerry Tablet OS… But I would agree that the iPad 3 is pretty good, but I still prefer Android…

    Yes, I would agree the price you quoted here is too much, but I’m sure you can find it for cheaper… But this Tablet is great! and when/if Samsung release the ICS upgrade, then I’m sure it will be awesome!

  • CommentKing

    A fine review if you say so yourself…

    A review 8 months after the tablet was released, you’d expect a tech site to keep up with the times…

  • http://twitter.com/gearburn gearburn

    Our reviews are not constrained to a timeline. Some products are reviewed on launch day, others have to wait. What counts is that the information is out there and people are able to make a conscious buying decision in regards to their next gadget. We are exceptionally current, love our gear and will continue to pump our quality reviews once it meet’s our high reviewing standards. 

  • Henk Kleynhans

    Hi Francois, I did the review very much using my “Dad Test” methodology. I.e. is this a device I could give to my technophobic overworked father without him calling me every few hours for support. I can’t imagine trying to explain to him on the phone how to strip out headers in .VNT files… 

  • http://www.vwd.co.za Francois Botha

    I wasn’t commenting on the review per se, but just wanted to mention that you don’t really need the python script.

  • Fifthblindmouse

     hey, I got news for you this review would have been more helpful 8 months ago when people were actually buying this device now that the tab 2 is out the 7 plus is in the shadow (even tho it is a superior device) – good try tho

  • Sunrise

    You lot commenting all presume that everybody wants to buy the latest or best, your oversights almost invalidate your own comments. I am currently looking at this tablet and found the review helpful.

  • Sheev Kumar

    I don’t agree with you. I  have been using this one for a month and other than slightly poor screen resolution, I don’t find anything wrong. This one has GSM communication facility and memory can also be upgraded unlike many other tablets. 7.0 plus is the best tablet for its price value.

  • Auze

    Wow. Burn this article i think. Why rubbish the device based in part on your poor experience with the Samsung memo app?

    And $680?? I took the plunge last weekend and have the 16gb 3G version on the way for $390AUD delivered. If you want to help people make a “conscious buying decision” then quoting an average buying price would be good deal more helpful.

  • Hoangde

    Wow.  I’m amazed at this type of reviews on a tech site.  Seems like the reviewer don’t know much about tablets or about doing reviews.  First off, you can get a tab 7 plus for under $300 in many places online.  I got mine brand new on craigslist for $200.  Second, comparing a 7 inch tablet to a 10 inch iPad is like comparing apple to oranges for me.  If you are comparing OS’s, I agree Honeycomb is an incomplete OS… Ice Cream Sandwich will serve the Tab 7 plus much better.  Third, to suggest buying Kindle Fire or Blackberry Playbook is very ignorant.  The Kindle Fire out of the box is so limited.  Try doing video chat or listening to music via bluetooth on there… oh wait.. Kindle Fire doesn’t have bluetooth nor any cameras.  As for the Playbook… REALLY?  Buying into a company or product that will be belly-up soon?!?!  The Playbook is on it’s last breath.

    In short, when you do a review, please do a better assessment.

  • eeyoreofborg

     I got my 32gb version for $400 USD.  If you want easy, stick with mac.  If you want versatile, go with Android(Linux).  Can you tell I’m a linux snob?

  • Mfingwe

    Not really, I like the Galaxy Tab 7.0 + I am with it a week now…the machine can whiz fast

  • Guest

    This review is extremely flawed. As with any new experience you have to give it some time to adjust and fit it into your life. Clearly this person is an Apple guy, nothing wrong with that but also not the best person to write an Android review. As for me this tablet has everything I need it for which is mainly textbooks for school and Netflix and some email. I like that I can use the remote on it to control my TV and that it fits in my cargo shorts pocket.

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