The History of Reddit

Reddit is a social news site that allows registered users (called redditors) to create accounts and post content. There are two types of content that users can post: a link to an external website or a text "self" post. Each post is open to the rest of the Reddit community to vote "up" or "down" and post comments. The popularity of a post determines its position on the front page. Users gain "karma" points for the number of "upvotes" their posts or comments receive from the community. There are "subreddits" that act as categories so redditors can follow their interests and control what content they see on their front page.

Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, two 22-year-old University of Virginia graduates, founded Reddit after receiving funding from Y Combinator in June 2005. They sold it to Conde Naste Publications in October 2006. As of September 2011, Reddit has operated as a subsidiary of Conde Naste's parent company, Advance Publications. Advance Publications also owns Style, Wired News, Epicurious and Web Monkey among other popular internet sites, daily newspapers, magazines and cable television channels.

The video below features co-founder Alexis Ohanian giving a four minute TEDTalk titled "How to make a splash in social media." Ohanian details the story of the now famous internet meme "Mister Splashy Pants".

Reddit’s growth over the next two years saw them hire four more employees by the end of 2008. That same year, Reddit's source code became open-source. All code was available on Github aside from the anti-spam/cheating sections. The video below, featuring the Reddit alien mascot, explains the benefits from the decision to go open-source.

In May 2010, Reddit was included in "2010's Hottest San Franciso Companies" list compiled by Lead411.

Despite being one of the most popular sites on the web, Reddit suffered from underfunding. So, Reddit Gold was introduced in July of 2010, with extended features that users can purchase. It costs users $3.99/month and at this time offers the following features:

  • A trophy on your userpage
  • The ability to turn off sidebar ads and/or sponsored links
  • The option of seeing twice as many comments at once without having to click "load more comments"
  • The ability to see up to 100 subscribed subreddits in your front-page listing
  • New comment highlighting: see what's been posted since the last time you visited a thread
  • Friends with Benefits™: you can add notes to your friends to help you keep track of them all
  • Access to a super-secret members-only community that may or may not exist
  • A thank-you note

In August 2011, Reddit’s main competitor, Digg.com, changed their business model and released Digg v4. This resulted in a mass exodus of users that then migrated to Reddit. Today, Reddit's median user is a 35-44 year-old male with some college education and an income of $25,000-$49,000 USD. According to Quantcast, Reddit receives over 15 million unique visitors per month, which is up from around 2 million around the time that Digg v4 was launched.

IMG CREDIT: Sochable.com

As Reddit's traffic continues to grow, so does its profile within popular culture. Many celebrities have mentioned Reddit, while many have even used Reddit as a marketing platform for unique campaigns. Stephen Colbert was recently persuaded by users to hold a satirical rally in Washington, DC which raised over $600,000 for charity. No one can say for sure what the landscape of social sites will be in the years to come but it's evident that Reddit has become a major player and will be the social news site to beat for the foreseeable future.


About the Author: 
Simon Vreeswijk's picture
Digital Marketer

As a Digital Marketer for Stikky Media, Simon spends his time optimizing web pages and using various Social Networking to promote content. Simon gains top Google rankings for our clients while using his strong Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts to spread the word. When he's not obsessing over fake karma points, Simon plays ice hockey and squash, he is also a skier and mountain biker and enjoys playing his guitar.


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