Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Registered members submit content to the site such as links, text posts, and images, which are then voted up or down by other members. Posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called "subreddits", which cover a variety of topics including news, science, movies, video games, music, books, fitness, food, and image-sharing. Submissions with more up-votes appear towards the top of their subreddit and, if they receive enough up-votes, ultimately on the site's front page. Despite strict rules prohibiting harassment, Reddit's administrators spend considerable resources on moderating the site.
As of July 2019, Reddit ranks as the No. 5 most visited website in the U.S. and No. 13 in the world, according to Alexa Internet, with 55% of its user base coming from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom at 7.4% and Canada at 5.8%.
Reddit was founded by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005. Condé Nast Publications acquired the site in October 2006. In 2011, Reddit became an independent subsidiary of Condé Nast's parent company, Advance Publications. In October 2014, Reddit raised $50 million in a funding round led by Sam Altman and including investors Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Snoop Dogg, and Jared Leto. Their investment valued the company at $500 million then. In July 2017, Reddit raised $200 million for a $1.8 billion valuation, with Advance Publications remaining the majority stakeholder. In February 2019, a $300 million funding round led by Tencent brought the company's valuation to $3 billion.
The idea and initial development of Reddit originated with then college roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005. Huffman and Ohanian attended a lecture by programmer-entrepreneur Paul Graham in Boston, Massachusetts, during their spring break from University of Virginia. After speaking with Huffman and Ohanian following the lecture, Graham invited the two to apply to his startup incubator Y Combinator. Their initial idea, My Mobile Menu, was unsuccessful, and was intended to allow users to order food by SMS text messaging. During a brainstorming session to pitch another startup, the idea was created for what Graham called the "front page of the Internet". For this idea, Huffman and Ohanian were accepted in Y Combinator's first class. Supported by the funding from Y Combinator, Huffman coded the site in Common Lisp and together with Ohanian launched Reddit in June 2005.
The team expanded to include Christopher Slowe in November 2005. Between November 2005 and January 2006, Reddit merged with Aaron Swartz's company Infogami, and Swartz became an equal owner of the resulting parent company, Not A Bug. Huffman and Ohanian sold Reddit to Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, on October 31, 2006, for a reported $10 million to $20 million and the team moved to San Francisco. In January 2007, Swartz was fired for undisclosed reasons.
Huffman and Ohanian left Reddit in 2009. Huffman went on to co-found Hipmunk with Adam Goldstein, and later recruited Ohanian and Slowe to his new company. After Huffman and Ohanian left Reddit, Erik Martin, who joined the company as a community manager in 2008 and later became general manager is 2011, played a role in Reddit's growth. VentureBeat noted that Martin was "responsible for keeping the site going" under Condé Nast's ownership. Martin facilitated the purchase of Reddit Gifts and led charity initiatives.
Reddit launched two different ways of advertising on the site in 2009. The company launched sponsored content and a self-serve ads platform that year. Reddit launched its Reddit Gold benefits program in July 2010, which offered new features to editors and created a new revenue stream for the business that did not rely on banner ads. On September 6, 2011, Reddit became operationally independent of Condé Nast, operating as a separate subsidiary of its parent company, Advance Publications. Reddit and other websites participated in a 12-hour sitewide blackout on January 18, 2012, in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act. In May 2012, Reddit joined the Internet Defense League, a group formed to organize future protests.
Yishan Wong joined Reddit as CEO in 2012. Wong resigned from Reddit in 2014, after more than two years at the company, citing disagreements about his proposal to move the company's offices from San Francisco to nearby Daly City, but also the "stressful and draining" nature of the position. Ohanian credited Wong with leading the company as its user base grew from 35 million to 174 million. Wong oversaw the company as it raised $50 million in funding and spun off as an independent company. Also during this time, Reddit began accepting the digital currency Bitcoin for its Reddit Gold subscription service through a partnership with bitcoin payment processor Coinbase in February 2013. Ellen Pao replaced Wong as interim CEO in 2014 and resigned in 2015 amid a user revolt over the firing of a popular Reddit employee. During her tenure, Reddit initiated an anti-harassment policy, banned involuntary sexualization, and banned several forums that focused on bigoted content or harassment of individuals.
After five years away from the company, Ohanian and Huffman returned to leadership roles at Reddit: Ohanian became the full-time executive chairman in November 2014 following Wong's resignation, while Pao's departure on July 10, 2015, led to Huffman's return as the company's chief executive. After Huffman rejoined Reddit as CEO, he launched Reddit's iOS and Android apps, fixed Reddit's mobile website, and created A/B testing infrastructure. The company launched a major redesign of its website in April 2018. Huffman said new users were turned off from Reddit because it had looked like a "dystopian Craigslist". Reddit also instituted several technological improvements, such as a new tool that allows users to hide posts, comments, and private messages from selected redditors in an attempt to curb online harassment, and new content guidelines. These new content guidelines were aimed at banning content inciting violence and quarantining offensive material. Slowe, the company's first employee, rejoined Reddit in 2017 as chief technology officer. Reddit's largest round of funding came in 2017, when the company raised $200 million and was valued at $1.8 billion. The funding supported Reddit's site redesign and video efforts.
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