Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 7:49 AM

What really happened at Reddit?

In the end, after all the reporting about the user uprising at Reddit, do we have much of a clue about what actually happened?

What we know

  1. Victoria Taylor was fired.

  2. Ellen Pao resigned.

  3. The founder, Alexis Ohanian actually fired Taylor, not Pao.

  4. It had something to do with the Ask-Me-Anything function on Reddit.

That's what we know. But what was it about the AMAs that caused the firing?


My guess: The Reddit board, representing investors who recently put $50 million into the company, wanted to sell the AMA function to advertisers. Taylor objected, and was fired.

If so, it represents a much bigger story than what the press reported. This is the fundamental clash between the users of social media and the people who theorize that services like Reddit are worth investing $50 million in.

The real story, imho

I suspect they're going to find out that they lost the $50 million.

That if they sell out the AMA function, all that was appealing about Reddit to the current Reddit users will be gone, and as the users of Digg proved, they are mobile. They can take their act elsewhere.

Reddit is providing a commodity service. They are easily replaced by the users.

And you have to wonder what other services are vulnerable?

If the users have a voice that can easily be focused, something that distinguishes Reddit from services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all the various chat services, where the users don't come together in a single online place, then you probably can't monetize it.

However if your users are disorganized, you can probably make some mistakes and learn from them, and still hold on to most of your users.

Users threaten to quit Facebook and Twitter all the time, and some do, but the majority stay put.

PS: Here's an example of a service that concentrates all its users more than probably is safe.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:04 AM

By Dave Winer, Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 7:49 AM. When in doubt, blog.