How Reddit Was Created

Reddit is a social networking, news, and discussion website. Whatever hobby, topic, or thing you’re into chances are you’ll find a community around it. The site has roughly 1.6 million subreddits to date, and home to over 330 million active users as of July 2018. How and when did it come about? It all started with two college friends.

Reddit was created by two University students, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. First they wanted to create a sandwich ordering app, and pitched the idea to Paul Graham who worked for Y Combinator. Y Combinator is a startup accelerator. Paul wasn’t interested in the sandwich app (third party mobile apps weren’t really a thing), and as an alternative asked them to create the front page of the internet.

The name reddit is a play on words for ‘read it’. Their project was to basically create an online bulletin board for the web. They drew inspiration from two popular websites of the time- delicious, which was a social bookmarking site, and slashdot; a news site for “nerds”. After 3 weeks of coding and creating a working prototype reddit was up and running.

The first version of reddit. Credit: alexis ohanian on flickr

Fake accounts were used to submit the first web links and text posts. Every post had two buttons: “interesting” and “uninteresting”. The first post ever made was a link to a website about the downing street memo(s). Submitted by Ohanian under the username u/kn0thing. The first couple hundred visitors came after Paul Graham linked to Reddit in a blog post. More and more users submitted post and the site organically grew.

The first subreddit created was /r/nsfw to take nudity off the front page. /r/science and /r/programming subsequently came after. By 2007 /r/politics is added taking note of the 2008 US presidential election. By 2008 reddit gives users the option to create subreddits. Reddit also became open source a few months later.

It took Huffman and Ohanian 16 months to create Reddit before they sold it to Condé Nast for presumably 10 to 20 million usd. Both were age 23, and as part of their contract worked for the media giant Advance Publications for three years. In 2009 Ohanian and Huffman left Reddit and went their separate ways.

In 2015 the two got back together. Reddit was going through lots of trouble. It was pretty much falling apart. Ohanian returned to Reddit as executive chairman in November 2014. Shortly after, Reddit’s CEO Ellen Pao resigned and Huffman took over as CEO in July 2015.



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