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Reddit's cofounder said the company felt like 'a homework assignment that got out of hand' rather than a business

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Reddit's cofounder said the company felt like 'a homework assignment that got out of hand' rather than a business
  • Steve Huffman told Fast Company that Reddit in its early days didn't feel like a real business.
  • He explained that its success and profitability far exceeded his expectations.

Reddit's cofounder said in its early days the social media platform felt more like a "homework assignment that got out of hand," than a real business, as the company aims for an IPO in 2024.

Steve Huffman, Reddit's cofounder and CEO, launched the company in 2005 and told Fast Company in an interview published Tuesday that its growth and success has really exceeded his expectations.

Huffman left the company four years after its founding to focus on a series of other ventures before returning to the company as CEO in 2015 after a revolt against its interim CEO Ellen Pao.

He said that at the time he left he was unsure whether it would ever be a profitable business: "I was like, 'Well, that's not really a business — it's like this homework assignment that got out of hand.'"

He added: "And so the fact that this is a real business today, and a growing business, really surprises me."

Huffman explained that when the company was initially founded he was the site's most prolific user.

"I submitted most of the content for the first couple of months myself — I had all these different accounts… and sometime in August was the first day that I didn't submit any content. Real users did. And literally every day since then, Reddit has been bigger than I ever thought it would be."

Huffman told Fast Company that Reddit is currently focusing on a few areas of profitability including its advertising business and charging companies for access to its data.

In April, Huffman said that major companies like OpenAI, Google and Microsoft trained its AI models using data from Reddit. As a result, the company decided to introduce charges for its Application Programming Interface (API) so that big companies couldn't simply use them for free.

Additionally the company is no longer letting users opt out of personalized ads — it made an estimated $503 million from its advertising business in 2022.

Now the social media platform is aiming for an IPO in the first quarter of 2024 with a valuation of $15 billion, and has been in talks with potential investors like Goldman Sachs and and Morgan Stanley, per Bloomberg.


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