How Reddit became the front page of the internet
How it all started:
It all began in 2005 when two university students decided to pitch their startup to a venture capitalist by the name of Paul Graham. At the time, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian had an idea that was too ahead of its time.
They were planning on starting a food-ordering business and believed that Paul Graham was their best bet. And you read that right! Reddit wasn’t their first idea. In fact, Paul was the one who suggested they start Reddit after rejecting their idea a day after the pitch. Paul chose to give them this suggestion because he knew that they had the potential to start a business.
After taking Paul’s suggestion, they pitched their idea at Y combinator, and guess what? They became a part of the Y combinator programs, and got an investment of $12,000! Now all they had to do was build their business, which they did in just three weeks.
However, before going any further, they had to come up with a name. After failed attempts such as ‘‘snew.com’, Ohanian took the initiative and decided to name it Reddit. Alright now they had a name, but the first version of Reddit was rather claustrophobic and lacked organization, but at least they had a working product.
Despite the efforts, Reddit was struggling to get users; they barely had any in the first few weeks. To solve this never-ending problem, Huffman flooded the website with fake profiles. This way, the website gained momentum and eventually started getting some attention.
Slashdot, a major competitor at the time, fueled Reddit’s popularity by spreading hate. For this very reason, many users flocked to Reddit, just to see how messed up it was. Nevertheless, user count skyrocketed and Reddit was finally making some progress. Soon, Huffman and Ohanian couldn’t manage the business themselves and needed a talented individual to help them with work. This is when they brought in Chris Slowe, who lived in their apartment, where all three of them worked on Reddit.
As Reddit was growing, they caught the attention of the co-founder of Conde Nast, which is a mass media company headquartered in New York City. After negotiations and some paperwork, Reddit was sold off. And just like that, in the span of sixteen months, the two university students became millionaires! But before that, Reddit had a new leader by the name of Aaron Schwartz. Although he was good at his job, negativity consumed him.
He frequently blogged about his frustrating work life and would never show positivity while at his workplace. His personality and attitude became such a big problem, that he had to be fired in 2006. Unfortunately, just seven years later, he committed suicide. Surprisingly, many still talk about him to this day.
Huffman and Ohanian made massive changes after returning from their five-year break. The android and IOS applications were quickly launched, along with some new structuring. If you’re a Reddit user, you may be familiar with subreddits. Well, they were added around this time too!
Users were more satisfied than ever as they got to enjoy talking about miscellaneous subjects and happenings around the world. Even President Obama and Bill Gates jumped on the bandwagon with their posts. However, investors were not as satisfied as the users, as Reddit was making low returns despite the huge fanbase.
The beginning of a new era:
Conde Nast was facing huge employment problems and with no quality staff left in the workforce, Huffman and Ohanian decided to leave. This sent shockwaves throughout the Reddit community and many users were frustrated. With no proper management, the company revenue was down and so was funding. But soon enough, a Reddit user blogged about his frustration and suggested making a premium service for Reddit. This idea was taken by storm and was named ‘Reddit gold’. The demand was so huge that the company actually rolled it out and it still exists to this date.
After what seemed like years, Reddit finally got its new round of funding, which valued the company at a near $500M. Many censorship decisions were also made, to control the free flow of information. Surprisingly, Huffman and Ohanian were back! New designs and policies were introduced and all issues were adhered to.
With recent happenings such as the GameStop short-squeeze and the capitol storm, Reddit has its fair share of discussions. Reddit continues to entertain, educate and even spark revolution into its users. The community is also very unique and Rohan Kalra from Quora gives a wonderful insight on the same:
“The important thing is to remember that Reddit is not your typical social networking platform. You don’t have a real identity on Reddit, you are not there to make friends, you don’t comment to gain publicity and you don’t write posts to become a power user. Nobody remembers you. You are just another person on Reddit and will always be. In short, there is no social ladder to climb. Even if you have been a Redditor for 2 years and have 40K karma in your pocket, chances are your next comment/post will be overwhelmingly down-voted. Nobody is interested in knowing who you are or reading your past posts. You are there for your own sake, be it for learning programming (learn programming) or watching nudes (gone wild). If you are comfortable with that, you will have a great time on Reddit.”
Personally, I think there is no other platform with so many worthy discussions to dive into, especially in the present, where we save the world by staying at home.
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How did the founders bring in more users to the company at the initial stage?
Despite the efforts, reddit was struggling to get users; they barely had any in the first few weeks. To solve this never-ending problem, Huffman flooded the website with fake profiles. This way, the website gained momentum and eventually started getting some attention.
How did reddit pitch their idea?
After taking Paul’s suggestion, the founders pitched their idea at Y combinator, became a part of the Y combinator programs, and got an investment of $12,000!
When and how did Huffman and Ohanian pitch their first business plan?
It all began in 2005, when two university students decided to pitch their startup to a venture capitalist by the name of Paul Graham. At the time, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian had an idea that was too ahead of its time. They were planning on starting a food-ordering business and believed that Paul Graham was their best bet. And you read that right! Reddit wasn’t their first idea