Friday Factday: Reddit
Friday Factday

Friday Factday: Reddit

Ben Thornton
Ben Thornton

r/hello, dear readers! Welcome, once again, to an episode of your favorite toilet break read, Friday Factday; I'm your ever-present host, Ben, and this week I thought we'd take a look at one of the most well-known websites in the world: Reddit.

Big Names, Big Money

Reddit has had some big names involved in its meteoric rise to being the “front page of the internet.” Founded in 2005 by current CEO Steve Huffman, his roommate, Alexis Ohanian (currently most known for being legendary tennis player Serena Williams' husband), and the late Aaron Swartz, it saw a round of investment funding in 2009 led by Sam Altman – currently best known for being CEO of OpenAI – that saw the likes of Peter Thiel, Snoop Dogg, and even Jared Leto (still unclear as to why people like him) buy into the hype. The total take for the funding round was $50 million, which has since been dwarfed by numerous other funding rounds that reach the high hundreds of millions.

The Front Page of the Internet

Reddit has always made bold claims about itself, but it's difficult to deny its continued popularity. Here are just a few statistics to highlight that:

  • It has 430 million active monthly users
  • It has 52 million daily users
  • There are 2.8 million subreddits
  • Users spend an average of 24 minutes a day on the platform
  • Users consumed 1.4 billion videos on the platform per month as of 2018

If Reddit were a person, it would be Gen Z by age, and the user statistics certainly seem to show strong support among the Zoomers. A full 26% of Reddit users are Gen Z, giving them a big presence. For them, it truly does seem to live up to its tagline, and a whopping 82% of Gen Z Redditors trust the platform as a source of information for products and services.

Modify the API with an Eye on the AI Pie

Yes, I did enjoy writing that subtitle, and no, I won't apologize for it.

With the rise of AI, it seems like everyone wants a slice, and Reddit are no different. Almost a year ago now, there was controversy as Reddit announced big changes to their API access. Citing the expense of running the website and the inability to "keep subsidizing" things, they introduced premium access models that charged third parties for greater access to their API. Whilst Reddit is indeed expensive to run - and has even been running at a loss - it smells a bit fishy when the big dogs are getting millions in stock options on top of their salaries.

One of the figures with a large share in Reddit is the aforementioned Sam Altman, current CEO of OpenAI. This, alongside Reddit identifying AI as an area of development, paints a picture of a company moving to monetize not just any large third-party user, but specifically to get in on the AI action.

They Just Sold Data to Google for AI Training

And, lo and behold: they've sold their user data to Google to be used to train their AI models.

By “their user data” I, of course, mean your data. This deal is yet another example of how we are all commodified in the digital age, but I'll force myself not to segue into a rant about it. I will say that the reported $60 million yearly price tag feels almost insultingly low; Reddit likely doesn't care, however, as the secret benefit is for advertising and further deals with other investors.

You Can Find Us on Reddit

Given the prevalence of the platform, having a subreddit feels almost mandatory for any company worth its salt, so it will be no surprise to anyone to hear that we also have one. We're looking at doing more with the platform as well, and we do interact with our users there, so head on over and get chatting!

Ben Thornton
Ben Thornton