Reddit, the wildly successful online community for sharing links, news, memes and beyond, was bought by old media mogul Conde Nast in 2006, back when reddit was more of an indie alternative to Digg. But today Conde relinquishes the reins: reddit is spinning out into an independent company, reddit Inc., under Conde owner Advance Publications, and is looking for a CEO.
So, where do you get one of those, Betabeat asked reddit general manager Erik Martin, a New Yorker who moved to San Francisco for the job a few months ago.
“Sam’s Club,” he said.
Despite butting heads with their old media overlords over things like advertisements for marijuana legalization campaigns, reddit’s traffic has grown more than fifty-fold since the acquisition. But the fast-growing site never quite fit in at Conde, which owns Wired and The New Yorker and has a dubious track record with adjusting to the digital media shift, and the companies started considering a severe adjustment to the relationship more than a few months ago, although Mr. Martin couldn’t place a date on exactly when things got serious. “We’ve always been very vocal about times when we’ve felt restrained by being part of a big huge complicated media company,” general manager Erik Martin told Betabeat from San Francisco. “We have always wanted more independence.”
Being under Conde Nast gave reddit less access to resources and generally bogged the startup down, he said. But reddit’s new independence brings new ambitions. Reddit is hiring for a CEO and more positions to be announced soon, Mr. Martin said. Besides catching up on some deferred iterations to adjust to the way people are using the site, reddit hopes to become a platform for civic engagement and citizen journalism, even for feedback on product development and brand engagement.
“A lot of the reddit community members and the moderators have been innovating, they themselves have been the source of innovation on reddit,” Mr. Martin said. “We’ve just been trying to keep the lights on. We have a lot of catching up to do with things like local reddits … we need better tools to support that.
Some sub-reddits get so much traffic they “now are basically their own websites,” Mr. Martin said, with around 6,000 sub-reddits with more than 100 subscribers. One goal is to make those sub-reddits easier to manage and find, he said.
Greater independence will mean reddit can go to a new board, which includes reddit OG Alexis Ohanian, who had been serving as an “advisor,” as well as representatives from Conde and Advance, with proposals instead of jockeying within Conde’s budget. Reddit doesn’t plan to seek outside funding at this time, Mr. Martin said, but it’s not out of the question. “It’s a lot more more of a startup,” he said. “It’s able to happen faster with less overhead.”
The reddit blog post (titled “Independence”) announcing the change had more than 400 comments in 11 minutes. “I heard some big-shot CEO at Apple just recently left, maybe you can hire him,” user ggggbabybabybaby writes. “Someone said his previous salary was only $1 so you could probably double that.”