Dissatisfied with a redesign that buries much of their influence, hard-core users of social-news site Digg have been gaming its “Top News” page so that it’s dominated by links to rival site Reddit. At this time Reddit is smaller than Digg.
Reddit goes against parent company Conde Nast for a second time. Despite the parent requests to stop running advertisements on behalf of advocates of California’s Proposition 19, which supports the legalization of marijuana, Reddit runs the ads. Reddit responds to Conde Nast concern about obtaining revenue from the advocacy groups, by running the ads for free.
REDDIT: This was a decision made at the highest levels of Conde Nast. Reddit itself strongly disagrees with it and, frankly, thinks it’s ridiculous that we’re turning away advertising money…We’re trying to convince Corporate that they’re making the wrong decision here, and we encourage the community to create a petition, so that your anger is organized in a way that will produce results.
CONDE NAST: As a corporation, Conde Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue.
This is the second time Reddit has publicly gone against Conde Nast.
Huffman leaves Reddit to start Hipmunk with Goldstein. Hipmunk is a travel search site that helps people book flights easily by presenting flight results in a visual timeline that allows people to select the best flight for them at a glance. The site is funded by Y Combinator.
Recent site slowdowns—and, in some cases, outright outages—have prompted programmer Mike Schiraldi to issue a call for help: He’s asked users to become Reddit subscribers for a donation of “whatever you want” in an effort to raise money to hire more resources to fix the site’s issues. when asked why Reddit just turn to parent company Conde Nast for the cash, Schiraldi responds:
SCHIRALDI: That’s one of the first things users inquire about. But here’s the thing: corporations aren’t run like charities. They keep separate budgets for each business line, and usually allocate resources proportionate to revenue. And Reddit’s revenue isn’t great.
According to Schiraldi, the site’s traffic numbers around 280 million monthly pageviews.
Livingston interviews Ohanian about the early days of Reddit. Livingston asks about the “Chicken and egg” problem of building a community with no initial users:
This is one that I have no hesitation in saying, but it always stirs up a lot of controversy. Steve [Huffman] built a really simple system for admins, that is Steve and me, so that when we submitted a link also let us type in a user name. It let us easily and efficiently create lots of fake users. And we were able to browbeat a few of our friends to build up comments. But the rest of our friends and family could not be begged or bribed enough to do it really consistently. The only option we had to resort to was to fake it. But we didn’t have to do it for too long because Paul [Graham] did us a big favor by [profiling us] us in an early essay.
It was at some point about three or four weeks into it that neither Steve or I had to submit or vote on anything, and the site just worked…We could spend the day just lurking on Reddit, that is just using it like the vast majority of people do and not actually generate content. That was huge. That was when we realized, maybe we haven’t wasted this summer and we had a legitimate community.
Ohanian talks about how Y Combinator helped shape the idea for Reddit in the early stages:
We approached Y Combinator … with an idea that would transform the way you order food, specifically using a cell phone to do so. They didn’t really like the idea. They liked us, but they hated the idea.
They still didn’t have a firm idea, but sat down with Graham and talked about a site that would filter the most interesting web content.
…it was in that conversation with Paul where we developed this idea for creating a way to find out what’s new online.
The idea morphed into the final product:
All the actual mechanics of how that would work, basically happened in the next few weeks, while Steve [Huffman] and I were in a crap apartment, in Bedford, Massachusetts, playing a lot of Warcraft.
Reddit user MrGrim creates Imgur, an image hosting service. The user describes it as his gift to Reddit:
I got fed up with all the other image hosts out there so I made my own. It doesn’t force you to compress your images, and it has neat things like crop, resize, rotate, and compression from 10-100. It’s my gift to you. Let’s not see anymore imageshack/photobucket around here 😉 I’ll be listening if anyone has some suggestions.
Swartz is asked to resign from his position at Wired Digital after this boss Chris Anderson is unhappy about him taking too much vacation:
I was unhappy working in an office and didn’t hide it. So I’d come in late and set up lots of off-site meetings and stuff. And my boss wasn’t really thrilled about that.
One of the places I went to in Europe was the Chaos Computer Conference. And while I was there my friend Quinn Norton took my photo for one of her articles and it was featured on wired.com’s front page. “Heh,” I joked. “I bet the first time my boss finds out where I am is when he sees my photo on the front page of his own website.”
Ironically, Swartz boss did not see the photo on Wired’s front page – he saw the reference to the photo that Swartz’s put on his blog.
In a 2007 speech, Swartz described himself as being ‘miserable’ after moving to San Francisco when his company was purchased by the publishing giant Conde Nast.
I couldn’t stand San Francisco. I couldn’t stand office life. ‘I took a long Christmas vacation. I got sick. I thought of suicide. I ran from the police. And when I got back on Monday morning, I was asked to resign.
Ohanian keeps the exact amount a secret, but appears to confirm the price range.
People ask how much it was for, but I haven’t even told my girlfriend. I tell her, ‘You can Google it, and you’ll find it was between $10 million and $20 million.’
Condé Nast Publications acquires Reddit for a reported $20 million. All four Reddit employees relocate from Boston to Wired’s San Francisco office and become part of Wired Digital, which the company bought three months previously. Conde Naste:
Our goal will be to build Reddit as an independent company by collaborating with Wired through the integration of its core technology, and by offering partnerships to allow other companies to do the same.
At this time the site has 70,000 daily unique visitors and approximately 700,000 or so page views.
Aaron Swartz merges Infogami with Reddit where he joins Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. The four Reddit staff work out of a small 3-bedroom apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Reddit is founded by Huffman and Ohanian both 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia. In first year they had rooms across the hall from each other, and became friends through video games.
Huffman wanted to make a phone system to order subs while he was pumping gas at a local gas stand. Ohanian calls a lawyer and they formed a company called RedBrick Solutions, because Charlottesville is full of red brick buildings. In the spring of their senior year they go to Boston to see a presentation by Graham at Harvard called “How to start a start-up”. They were able to get Graham to meet them for drinks at a local bar where they pitched their phone idea. A few days later, Graham tells them to apply for his new investment fund, Y Combinator. The students travel to Boston to pitch, but are rejected. On the way back to Charlottesville Graham calls them to say he wants them to come up with another idea — a web app. They decide to match the mechanism of Delicious with the content of Slashdot to build “the front page to the web”.
Y Combinator gives them $12,000 and they move to Boston in early June, 2005. After a few weeks the site is not ready when Graham links to it from an essay, giving it site 1000 hits. Reddit was the first Y Combinator launch, taking a total of $100,000. To make the site appear popular they populate it with fake posts.