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Reddit boss tries to downplay the outfit’s self-created woes

by on14 June 2023

Huffman warns staff of backlash

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman (pictured) has been doing his best to downplay a crisis of his own making.

For those who came in late, Reddit has been fending off criticism that it has been demanding ridiculous sums of money from API developers. Apps like Apollo are out of business and making money for no one. Christian Selig, creator of the Apollo Reddit-browsing app, estimated Huffman's changes would cost more than $20 million a year to keep his app running and there is no way he can get that sort of cash.

Huffman’s argument is that Reddit has to make money and if API developers were not monetising their activities better it is not his fault.

This led to a boycott of the site, with many subreddit moderators saying they would act. That meant that subreddits under their control would "go dark" or be made private so that nobody could see or post to them.

Huffman thinks that the whole thing will go away and most of the subreddits that are now dark will come back online today. However, word on the street is that after hearing Huffman holding forth on the matter they have changed their plans — and their subreddits will remain dark indefinitely.

Huffman told employees: "We have not seen any significant revenue impact so far and we will continue to monitor. there’s a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest, we’ve seen... however like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well."

While suggesting that everything is being blown out of proportion, Huffman warned staff about wearing their Reddit gear in public as “some folks are really upset, and we don’t want you to be the object of their frustrations."

However, what Huffman might be more concerned about any boycotts harming Reddit’s IPO moves.  A plan to go public last year was stalled because it was a dumb time to do it. It is believed to be back on the table, but it appears that Huffman is not that aware of his company’s dynamic.

Reddit is among the most popular internet sites, but its users always revolt at efforts to monetise its reach. Because Reddit relies on volunteer moderators to police content and keep the discussion moving, it has multiple levels of constituencies to appease. 

The heavy handling that Huffman appears to be giving Reddit and its API developers is unlikely to work, neither is squeezing what is essentially a volunteer company to impress Wall Street so you can generate a high-value IPO. All that will happen is that your volunteers will go elsewhere and find themselves supported by the same API developers who made Reddit famous.  


Last modified on 14 June 2023
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