Practically every city in the world is a set of districts, each of which has its own history, reputation and residents who adhere to a certain way of life. Here is the center with beautiful shops, neat little shops and businessmen stepping on their business. We leave closer to the outskirts and we meet “undesirable elements”, gray high-rise buildings, dirty sidewalks, in the evening, there is hardly a single lantern on the crossroads glimmering here.
Navigating through the Internet mirror
- How to start Reddit
- Who founded Reddit
- A crowd of fakes. How Reddit unwound
- Dark times. The founders of Reddit are tired of the project
- All over again
Strange, a little away from the panels there are pretty houses, in courtyards of which on neat lawns merry companies spend a warm evening for friendly conversations. But the building in the style of hi-tech with a lot of expensive cars in the parking lot, scurry some robots. And nobody prevents anyone. Some kind of surrealism …
Approximately so today you can describe the phenomenon of Reddit, which will be discussed later.
The service was conceived as a news aggregator from the Internet community, a platform where users can share their opinions, post pictures, texts, links to interesting resources, and so on. A kind of “comfortable residential area for all.” Now Reddit is a sort of urban ghetto, being at the same time a mirror of the Internet and an invisible, but very influential force. After all, there is everything – from adult content to cute seals!
The project was launched in 2005 by two students from the University of Virginia, who shared one room for two during their studies – Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian.
The stories of successful Internet startups of the period from the late 90s of the last century to the end of the “zero” ones tell about the same thing: the origins are geeks, computer geniuses and half-geniuses. They caught a wave and could hold onto its crest.
Steve Huffman, who was born in the United States in 1983, while still a schoolboy was interested in programming, was developing algorithms for solving complex mathematical problems. After graduating from school in Virginia, he went for knowledge to the local university, where he received an education in information technology.
Alexis Ohanyan – the same age as Huffman, was born in Brooklyn, New York. His grandmother and grandfather were forced to immigrate to the United States because of the Armenian genocide in the first quarter of the 20th century. Parents sent the young man to school in Maryland, and then fate brought him with Huffman already at the University of Virginia.
His first steps in the field of “high technology” he made as a member of the clan of the game Quake 2 – Alexis was engaged in the creation and administration of the site team. Similar responsibilities he had in the guild of the game Everquest.
But, unlike the future business partner, Ohanyan saw himself as a lawyer. True, the situation changed when both attended the lecture “How to Start a Start-up” by Paul Graham, one of his favorite teachers.
As some sources, inspired by their own ideas, write, young people decided to discuss them with Graham. Steve and Alexis suggested creating a product order service via a mobile phone – it was with the application concept that they went to listen to Paul. “No, it will not, ” the recognized IT expert stated in the conversation after the event.
According to other sources, young Americans did not just listen to Graham’s lectures, but came to him for investment. But the start-up was denied financing.
Both went home with nothing, but they were stopped by a call from Paul. What kind of conversation happened between them is not known, but his main idea was this: “Guys, I like you more than your idea.” The future Internet gurus went back. It sounds sweet, but it can be.
The meeting led to the creation of a simple website Reddit, which took about three weeks. The project was launched in 2005 with the assistance of the Y Combinator venture fund, founded by a group of professionals, including Paul Graham. Investments are minimal, but they were enough to help Reddit take the first steps. A successful startup and more is not necessary.
How to untwist a project when no one knows about it? Steve Huffman once shared a recipe that today can hardly be called honest (although in a slightly modified form it is actively used by modern Internet marketers, “SEOs” and other representatives of professions related to the Internet). It turned out that the first and very numerous users of the site, which generated the content, were non-existent users.
Almost the entire user base of Reddit was originally a collection of fake accounts generated by its founders. Through a special interface, they posted links to interesting news, entered a nickname, after which content appeared on the site and simultaneously a new user was registered. Profit! After all, the impression of growth on all fronts was created.
A strange idea? No, Steve wanted to see in the comments under the entries of real visitors, who will become the audience of Reddit. The effect was achieved, and fake accounts gradually disappeared, their entries were replaced by posts from real users. Someone might call it a fraud, but, sorry, it was a question of fictional users, but the content was the most that neither is the present.
After all, the materials were selected so that they were of interest to a certain audience. It was a well-thought-out campaign to find and form a target audience. At least that’s what Huffman says now.
In 2006, Reddit bought the American company Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica, Glamor, Wired and many other information and entertainment resources and prints. According to open information, then attendance of the service reached 500 thousand unique users per day. Why sell so fast? Alexis and Steve feared that soon everything would fall apart and they would remain with nothing.
What was the amount is not specified. They say about $ 10-20 million, but this guessing on the coffee grounds. The founders of the service with the soul remained with their child – it was too young at that time to throw it completely to the mercy of fate. Although it would be more correct to say that they were somewhere nearby. For example, until 2010 Oganyan received the position of Project Advisor, he is on the Board of Directors of Reddit. Huffman also retained a place in the leadership, and in 2015 he became CEO of the company.
The most inconspicuous period of development of Reddit fell on 2006-2010. The project gradually grew, but there were very few people in his team. Apparently, a little tired, in 2009, Steve and Alexis gave themselves completely to other things. Huffman launched a startup – a specialized site Hipmunk, designed to find the most interesting proposals for air travel.
Ohanyan, in turn, went for three months to Armenia, where he acted as a volunteer for the non-profit organization Kiva (engaged in issuing interest-free loans to the poor to create their own businesses), and then joined the project Steve.
Coincidentally, around the same time, in 2010, Reddit experienced an explosive growth in popularity and attendance. In this regard, a paid subscription was introduced Reddit Gold, which opened additional opportunities for registered users, and brought money to its owners. Then attendance only increased, Digg service was left behind, and Condé Nast released the site in free swimming as a subsidiary.
The site became a mirror of the Internet, reflecting changes in the audience. At some point she was tired of “long posts” and began to demand “fast food”. Gradually, the size of the records decreased, leading to a further increase in the popularity of the service itself. In place of intellectual messages, posts about seals (figuratively speaking) began to appear more and more often, themes with adult content multiplied.
The company has changed, and not always the process was painless. The theme of gender inequality, harassment and such a popular Internet phenomenon as revenge porn poured into the fire. Permissiveness was encouraged ever less, and the policy of the Reddit leadership caused more and more criticism from users. Another turning point has come.
In 2014, Alexis Ohanyan, like the prodigal son, returned, taking the place of executive head of the board of directors. In the same year, Huffman gave the vote. “I made a big mistake by selling Reddit, ” Steve admitted. According to him, he did not expect the giant to turn into his project.
In 2015, after a scandal and confrontation with users of the site, Ellen Pao left the position of the company’s CEO, Huffman took her place.
Everything is back to square one, and Reddit changes design for the first time in 10 years.