Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has spoken on plans for profit amid the potential of an IPO in 2024 and the onset of the AI era as the company seeks to consolidate from a position of strength.
In a wide-ranging interview by Fast Company, Huffman elaborated on other issues such as moderator revolt, the quality of Reddit’s engaged online communities and product priorities.
“People are trying to start businesses on Reddit, but it wasn’t built for that,” said Huffman, “So just trying to flesh out that ecosystem, I think that’ll be very powerful.”
Reddit is a US-based mega-website combining elements of social media, messageboards and news aggregation. It was founded in June 2005 by Huffman and Alexis Ohanian who sold the platform to Condé Nast the following year. After leaving in 2009, Huffman later returned as CEO in 2015.
Reddit rings the changes
As we approach the new year, noise is increasing that Reddit may be ready to go public and is considering a valuation as high as $15 billion. Such a figure for a company that isn’t profitable reflects Reddit’s massive user base of approximately 400 million accounts. Nevertheless, IPO or no IPO, the co-founder acknowledges the need for returns
Back in April, Reddit announced it would commence charges for heavy users of its API (application programming interface) which is the deluge of data from its 100,000 communities (or ‘subreddits’).
The Reddit community had expressed fears Big Tech giants such as Google and OpenAI were using Reddit’s scale and depth of detailed info on a vast array of subjects to mine the knowledge for the benefit of its chatbots, all at its own expense.
Other users pushed back and later, Reddit moderators revolted over changes, shutting down thousands of Subreddits in protest. Although this disruption was significant, it did not lead to a U-turn in the strategy at the top of the company.
Steve Huffman reflected on the path taken over the changes, stating “I think a lot of how we worked our way through it could have been better.”
AI will play a role in Reddit’s future with the company getting to grips with a prototype “post guidance” feature but its core strength will remain unchanged. As shown in the dispute over internal changes and the moderator rebellion, that lies in its people and communities. This is very much a man-made machine.
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