Profile of Discovery+, which has hit 12M paid subscriptions globally and offers a reality TV-focused catalog with 55K episodes, rivaling Netflix in sheer volume (Ben Smith/New York Times)

AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storythe media equationForget ‘Succession.’ You Can Watch ‘90 Day Fiancé’ for 100 Hours Straight.Discovery’s new app has taken off largely because viewers love watching people fix houses, tour diners and bicker about their relationships.The widely watched show “90 Day Fiancé” has spawned about a dozen spinoffs.Credit…an Rong Xu for The New York TimesFeb. 28, 2021Updated 8:01 p.m. ET“Ninety Day Fiancé” is, on some Sunday nights, the most-watched show on television. And in the latest innovation in streaming, Discovery+ includes a channel that lets you watch it for four days straight without seeing the same episode twice.If you’re not familiar with the six-year-old show, as a surprisingly large share of New Yorkers (my editors here, shamefully, included) are, the 90 days of the title refers to the period in which the noncitizen holder of a K-1 visa may remain in the country before marriage or face deportation. The show chronicles couples through that period, complete with skeptical in-laws, bickering and the enchantment or disenchantment with Nebraska or New Hampshire, all with countdown music and chyrons like “73 Days to Wed.”Now, on the Discovery+ show “90 Days Bares All” (one of about a dozen spinoffs, including “90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined”), the show can “push the boundaries even further versus the standards and practices of a regular cable channel,” said Howard Lee, the president of TLC, one of the cable networks that make up Discovery’s U.S. business. So you can watch the couples scream curses at one another, unbleeped, or discuss their favorite sex toys.The biggest story in big media these days is the “streaming wars,” the scramble by the people who traditionally make TV and movies to catch up with Netflix. Disney is dominating the race for second place; it’s unclear who else will even survive. CBS limps to the party next month with Paramount+, with the hopeful (to the company) and terrifying (to consumers) suggestion that normal, content-addicted Americans will wind up putting down their credit cards for five different streaming services.A scene from “90 Days Bares All.” Discovery is the dominant programmer of what it prefers to call “real life” television.Credit…DiscoveryDiscovery, the dominant programmer of what used to be called “reality TV” and it now prefers to call “real life,” has emerged as perhaps the most successful new entrant to this complicated, high-stakes competition. It is bringing along a mostly female audience. The company says it has 12 million paid subscriptions around the world, a more than respectable start that has helped make the company’s stock among the best performing on the S&P 500 this year (though it’s also riding a broader wave in the market).The app, which was introduced on Jan. 4, has a sheer mass of content that rivals Netflix, with 55,000 episodes — and it’s rolling out a suite of exclusive content dominated by American cultural figures like Oprah Winfrey, a procession of People cover fixtures led by Chip and Joanna Gaines and pop icons including the chef Guy Fieri. (Discovery also bid nine figures for a deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but the couple chose to go with Netflix, which has been less insistent on exclusivity, two people familiar with the conversations said.)The app’s early success is partly the result of a deal with Verizon, and Discovery won’t disclose the share of its subscriptions coming via that route; it also won’t say how many subscriptions are for an unrelated European sports service. (A media analyst, Michael Nathanson, estimates that Verizon provided about 20 percent of the five million subscriptions in the United States.) But the surge in new sign-ups this year beat analysts’ expectations, initial validation of the company’s big bet that delivering shows through new apps on a range of devices is now a fully mainstream phenomenon. And as the hype falls away about technical bells and whistles and using new kinds of data to predict people’s interests, the audience still loves watching people fix houses, tour diners, crawl around sewers and bicker about their relationships.“Our bet is when the world makes a full rotation, that the content people have chosen when they could choose anything on TV or cable, the content that they love and run home for — ‘90 Day,’ ‘Fixer Upper,’ ‘Property Brothers’ — they’re still going to love that,” said David M. Zaslav, the president and chief executive of Discovery. “In the end, people really don’t change that much.”That’s Mr. Zaslav’s unromantic version of the old declaration that content is king. And it’s a punctuation mark to a media era that began with a vertiginous sense of transformation. It has instead devolved into me explaining to my 11-year-old Disney’s devious strategy of releasing a single episode of “WandaVision” at the same time each week, producing an experience mysteriously identical to the way we used to watch television.David M. Zaslav, the president and chief executive of Discovery, at a fund-raiser in New York in 2018.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York TimesMr. Zaslav, too, is the last of his kind — the “last tycoon,” his old friend, the former HBO chief executive Richard Plepler, told me. He’s a relentless, fleece-vested mogul who likes to call reporters to talk his own book (and caught me on Tuesday morning in a moment of panic about what I would write this week). He likes to visit his stars at home, and to keep them close. He pals around with Disney’s former chief, Bob Iger, and Mr. Plepler, and others who rose by creating television and films. But those companies are now run by people who come out of other parts of the business — telecommunications or apps or theme parks. He’s a Hamptons mainstay who also holds an annual “boys’ dinner” for 50 of his closest male friends, including Apple’s content chief Eddy Cue and the Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos, in Los Angeles. The dinner is held during a golf tournament to which Discovery holds the television rights.The smooth start of Discovery+ comes as streamers closer to the heart of the media class are struggling. Apple’s service is off to a slow start. WarnerMedia’s HBO Max has been defined by stumbles. But Discovery remains in an odd position in the media business: The company, which is valued at more than $23 billion, is far smaller than the handful of dominant media and telecommunications conglomerates. But it is too big to be acquired by any but a few companies. There’s a running debate among those who know Mr. Zaslav about whether he’s buying or selling — that is, whether Discovery+ is another move to make the company more attractive for a giant to swallow before the bottom really falls out of the U.S. cable business or whether the company’s current high stock price will prompt Mr. Zaslav to acquire other businesses.“He should use this opportunity to make his business stronger,” said Mr. Nathanson, the media analyst, who suggested that Discovery “buy CNN.”Mr. Zaslav, who was involved in the creation of CNBC and MSNBC as an executive at NBC from 1989 to 2006, has begun to play in the global news business. Discovery is an investor in GB News, a right-of-center television challenger to the BBC. In Poland this year, the Discovery-owned channel TVN went dark along with other media outlets to protest the latest government attempt to hobble independent media. Mr. Zaslav said the investments in those channels were part of a strategy to sell streaming services as a bundle with news and sports.But he said he hadn’t talked to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, an East Hampton golf partner, about buying the network from its parent company, AT&T, and signaled that he was leery of the political charge that comes with top-shelf American cable news.“News is very overplayed and excoriated here in the U.S.,” he said.Discovery has its own nuanced cultural politics, which are the subject of a whole school of cultural criticism. The success of “90 Day” tracked Donald Trump’s xenophobic rise, and the show was “so rooted in real-world consequences and the real lives of these people that it often feels too tender to touch,” Scaachi Koul wrote in 2019. “The politics of immigration and class and race and gender are so present in every episode, you sometimes have to watch through the cracks of your eyelids.”Much of the company’s audience emphatically includes Donald Trump’s America (though shows like “90 Day” also have cult followings among, say, readers of New York Magazine’s Vulture). Some of its programming is resolutely anti-coastal. But its casting is inclusive, its couples diverse. And its programming also offers a clue as to why Republican attempts to revive, in particular, anti-L.G.B.T. culture war attacks have lost some of their political effectiveness. TLC’s version of real life regularly includes an array of couples. One “90 Day” spinoff tells the story of an American-born partner relocating to his husband’s native Mexico and grappling with overt homophobia. At one point, looking up at a giant statue of Jesus Christ in Cantamar, the American-born partner reassures his husband, “I think he would approve of us.”The tensest relationships for Mr. Zaslav, as for the other streamers, are with distributors. The chairman of the Dish Network last week warned Discovery that selling content through the app could mean lower fees from cable companies and other pay TV operators. But that threat hasn’t materialized yet.The bigger question may be if and when the service will develop an identity, or high-profile programming, that feels more than a supplement to the television network. It is an experiment, as my colleague John Koblin wrote, in whether people will pay $5 a month (or $7 without ads) for a service that plays in the background while you fold laundry or pay the bills.Ben Napier in “Ben’s Workshop” on HGTV. “People kept saying, ‘Ben should have a woodworking show,’ and I kept retweeting it and tagging the network,” Mr. Napier said.Credit…HGTVSo far, the exclusive content is mostly for superfans of specific shows, with occasional experiments with formats that don’t fit neatly onto cable. One early attempt is “Ben’s Workshop,” which the host, Ben Napier, said he was pleased that Discovery+ had picked up. “People kept saying, ‘Ben should have a woodworking show’ and I kept retweeting it and tagging the network and saying we should do this,” he said. “I didn’t care if it was going to be a social media-only show. I really wanted to make the show.” And Mr. Fieri told me he’s shooting four episodes of an adventure show in Hawaii for the service that “wouldn’t have been able to sit right in that mainstream track of doing what Food Network does.”But the company says it will increasingly put more of its desirable content there first, including a drinking show featuring the chef Ina Garten and the actress Melissa McCarthy, as well as shows with the promising titles, “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook: Uncensored” and “Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure.”And while the emergence of Discovery+ is mostly an indication that shifting distribution technologies haven’t changed American tastes, that doesn’t mean the shift is without consequence. Sunny Anderson, a co-host of “The Kitchen” on the Food Network, said she had been — mostly — enjoying a wave of feedback about older content.Last week, a viewer messaged her to congratulate her on her weight loss.“I thought, what did they watch? I haven’t lost any weight,” she said, then realized that they were deep in her library, watching old episodes of her show “Cooking for Real.” She said she had to reply, “You’re watching me 10 years ago, I’ve actually gained weight.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story

Profile of lawyer and activist Cori Crider who is suing Facebook and outsourcing company CPL in Ireland's High Court on behalf of traumatized content moderators (Ed Siddons/The Guardian)

In July 2019, Cori Crider, a lawyer, investigator and activist, was introduced to a former Facebook employee whose work monitoring graphic content on the world’s largest social media platform had left deep psychological scars. As the moderator described the fallout of spending each day watching gruesome footage, Crider was first struck by the depth of their pain, and then by a creeping sense of recognition.After a 15-year career defending detainees of Guantanamo Bay, Crider had learned the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress disorder. But unlike Crider’s previous clients, the moderator had not been tortured, extradited or detained. They had simply watched videos to decide if they were appropriate for public consumption.Our objective is never about winning the case, our objective is to change society“It’s not as if I haven’t spent time with graphic material,” Crider says, looking at me darkly across a Brixton café table in a brief December window between lockdowns. “I’ve spent my entire career with torture victims and drone survivors. But there’s something about these decontextualised images, videos and sounds coming up again and again and again that does something really weird to your psyche that I don’t think we yet understand.”She began to investigate. The moderator introduced her to other moderators, who in turn led her to others. Today, she has spoken to more than 70 moderators scattered across the world. “Every single person I’ve spoken to has a piece of content that they will never forget, that replays in their mind, which they have flashbacks to and nightmares about,” Crider says. One struggles to walk down the street without imagining the heads of nearby pedestrians exploding. Another no longer trusts male family members to look after their child after countless hours watching child sexual abuse footage induced a state of near-permanent paranoia. A third experiences recurring visions of a video in which a young boy is repeatedly mown down by a tank until his remains are subsumed into the tracks. This was the case Crider had been looking for.A month earlier, Crider co-founded Foxglove, now a four-woman team of lawyers, community activists and tech experts dedicated to fighting for “tech justice”. It wages legal battles against the increasing use of opaque and discriminatory algorithms in government decision-making; the spread of harmful technologies, such as facial recognition software; and the vast accumulation of power by tech giants.In December 2019, Foxglove engaged solicitors to pursue Facebook and the outsourcing company CPL in Ireland’s High Court, suing for millions in post-traumatic stress-related damages on behalf of numerous moderators, including Chris Gray. (The case is ongoing.)But the money is ornamental to the political point Foxglove hopes to prove: that, against the odds, the tech giants can be beaten, that their workers could be the secret weapon in bringing them to heel, and that the digital world we all inhabit could be transformed by insurrections inside the system.As the court battle rolls on, the fight against Facebook is entering new terrain. In late January, Foxglove secured a hearing with Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, so he could learn from moderators of the personal harm that policing the world’s news feed can cause. It is believed to be the first meeting of its kind anywhere in the world and, Crider hopes, the first step in demolishing the wall of silence, underwritten by stringent non-disclosure agreements, that holds tech workers back from collective action against their employers.“Our objective is never about winning the case,” Crider says without a trace of misty-eyed optimism. “Our objective is to change society.”Crider is slight, well-dressed and unnervingly self-assured. She talks quickly, losing herself in endless sentences that unspool in a thick Texan patter undiluted by more than a decade living in London. If she doesn’t like a question, she asks one back. If she disagrees with a premise, she dismantles it at length. She is an unruly interviewee who would much rather be the interviewer. “I’m really not interested in tech as such,” she announces before I’ve managed to ask a question, “but what I am interested in is power.”Prior to founding Foxglove, Crider, a small-town Texan by birth, had spent 15 years fighting the war on terror’s most powerful players, including the CIA, FBI, MI5 and MI6, agencies she deemed to be acting unlawfully in the name of national security.In her tenure as legal director of Reprieve, a human rights charity, she freed dozens of detainees from imprisonment and torture at Guantanamo Bay, represented grief-stricken families bereaved by drone bombings in Yemen, and forced excoriating apologies from the British government and security services for its complicity in illegal renditions and torture.She saw how people — innocent or guilty — could be mangled by systems beyond their control. And she learned how to beat billion-dollar opponents with a fraction of the financial firepower. She describes her work, then and now, as “asymmetric warfare.”But over nearly two decades of observing and intervening, Crider noticed a sea change in the tools used. She watched billions of dollars in military contracts hoovered up by the likes of Google, Amazon and Palantir; the vast expansion of government surveillance of its own citizens; and the exponential rise of drone warfare, whose victims she came to know and care for.“Seeing the most basic questions about a human life being made partly as a result of an algorithmic system — the penny dropped for me,” she says, briefly tender. “It felt like something fundamentally different in the way power was operating.”Upon leaving human rights organisation Reprieve in 2018, Crider began meeting people who could teach her about technology – academics, researchers, activists, and “tech bloviators who absolutely need to get their asses sued”. Then her friend and former Reprieve colleague Martha Dark reached out. T ogether, with public lawyer Rosa Curling, the trio founded Foxglove in June 2019.The foxglove, a wildflower, contains compounds that, depending on the dose, can kill or cure. It’s an analogy for technology that Crider says might be “a little twee”. It seeds itself freely, establishing footholds wherever it can. Foxglove, after its namesake, hopes to “crop up where you least expect us”.To date, that has meant a series of high-profile victories against the British government. Foxglove’s first major win came last summer. Some months earlier, Foxglove caught wind of the Home Office using an algorithm to influence its visa decisions. The algorithm deemed certain nationalities “suspect”, making it less likely their visa would be granted. “It was such clear nationality-based discrimination,” Crider explains, still angry. Foxglove, ever hungry for a good headline, dubbed it “speedy boarding for white people”, and promptly sued.In the legal back-and-forth that ensued, Crider discovered that, like many algorithms of its kind, it was subject to a feedback loop: the more people from a given country were rejected, the more likely future applicants from that country would be too. The machine was confirming its own biases.In August, the Home Office capitulated rather than fight its case in court. It committed to abandoning the algorithm and conducting a review of its practices. It was the first successful judicial review of an algorithmic decision-making system in the UK, now estimated to be in use by half of all local authorities in Britain.Such systems are currently used to assess the credibility of benefits claims, predict the likelihood of an individual to commit knife crime, and in countless other tasks once performed by people alone. What concerns Crider is not any individual system, but the fact that a growing number of government bodies are relying on technology they rarely understand, and that few members of the public are even made aware such technology is in use.“We absolutely do not want to have to repeatedly sue about this,” Crider says. “We just want municipal controls before this tech even gets used.”She cites Helsinki and Amsterdam as exemplars: in September, both announced public-facing artificial intelligence registers outlining how algorithms used by the city governments work, how they are governed, and who is responsible for them.“These systems have to be democratically accountable to all of us,” Crider argues. In leveraging the law to force hidden information into the public eye, she thinks she can trigger confrontations – moments of productive conflict that activate the democratic process. But without transparency, the possibility of conflict is foreclosed. People can’t be angry about things that are withheld from them. And transparency, she argues, was one of the first casualties of the pandemic.Five days after the first national lockdown, the Department of Health outlined plans for a new data store. It would combine disparate data sources from across the NHS and social care to provide an up-to-date picture of Covid-19’s spread. It would, the blog declared grandly, “provide a single source of truth” on the pandemic’s progress.But the government wasn’t building the project alone. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Faculty and Palantir all received contracts, perhaps lured by the honeypot of data at the heart of the world’s largest integrated healthcare system. (EY, a management consultancy, estimates the commercial value of NHS health data at “several billions” of pounds every year.)The fact that Faculty, an artificial intelligence firm previously contracted by Vote Leave and with shareholders including senior Tory politicians, was involved in the project raised eyebrows. But Palantir, a data-mining firm founded by Trump donor and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, rang alarm bells.“It’s not even really a health company,” Crider exclaims breathlessly. “It’s a security firm!”In her past life fighting against the war on terror, Crider had watched Palantir develop counterinsurgency technology for the CIA and US military. She had followed news reports detailing its extensive contracts with US police forces that disproportionately targeted black and brown communities. And she watched as it provided technologies that allowed the vast expansion of immigration enforcement against undocumented people across her home country.Crider asks, “ Do we, the public, think that these are fit and proper partners for the NHS?”When the government refused Foxglove’s freedom of information requests for the disclosure of the contracts, it partnered with progressive news site openDemocracy and threatened to sue. “They released the contracts literally hours before we were due in court,” Crider says, rolling her eyes. The act of disclosure forced the Department of Health to state that the intellectual property for the programs built from the data store would remain under NHS control, not be spirited off by big tech and then sold back to the health service. “It meant they couldn’t sell us back to ourselves,” Crider grins.The fear, in Crider’s mind, is that big tech establishes itself at the heart of the health service. “It’s privatisation by stealth,” she suggests, and symbolic of a growing co-dependence between big tech and government that makes meaningful regulation of the tech giants a pipe dream.That’s part of the reason Crider doesn’t see the solution to big tech’s excesses coming from the governments that increasingly depend on their software and services. People power, in Crider’s view, is our only hope – and is why the Facebook moderators’ fight should concern us all.To date, Crider argues, we have missed what she sees as the Achilles heel of Silicon Valley’s largest players: their relationships with their own workforce. “That’s what makes Foxglove different,” she muses. “We’re intensely focused on building tech-worker power.”“We see so much discussion about the content on social media,” she says, reeling off issues from misinformation to hate speech to targeted political advertising, “, but almost nothing on the conditions of labour that prop up the entire system, without which there literally is no such thing as a YouTube or a Facebook. You think it’s a shit show now? You would never set foot in there without the work that these people do! They are not an aside to the work – they are the work.”Tech workers are beginning to understand their power, Crider notes. Google workers are in the process of unionising under the banner of the Alphabet Workers Union. This month, some 5,000 Amazon employees in Alabama will vote on whether to become the trillion-dollar company’s first formal union. Just last year, the Communications Workers of America began its first big union drive among tech workers, called Code.The problem, as Crider sees it, stems from an idea propagated by the tech giants themselves: that they are merely a news feed, a helpful search engine, or a grid of pristine images, and not concrete entities with exploitative factory floors to rival any of the industrial titans of the 20th century. “These companies have disrupted their way out of worker protections that people have fought for decades to win,” she concludes.Tech companies have disrupted their way out of worker protections that people have fought for decades to winCrider is unequivocal: Facebook moderators, and tech workers at large, need unions. But that’s a long path. She hopes the legal case, the Varadkar hearing, and Foxglove’s work connecting disparate moderators across the world will trigger a kind of class consciousness that could fuel a tech-worker uprising.But another barrier looms large: the non-disclosure agreements that ensure the silence of Facebook’s workforce.“The single greatest impediment to these workers coming together seems to me to be the fear of speaking. You can’t achieve collective power if you don’t break that wall down,” she declares.After 18 months working with Facebook moderators, Crider still doesn’t have a copy of the contract, which moderators allege they have to sign, but are not allowed to keep. “Is that even lawful? I don’t think that’s lawful!” she says. And their testimony suggests cripplingly stringent terms: they are forbidden from speaking about their work, to anyone, including their spouses. “It’s like the god damn CIA,” Crider shrieks.These problems affect us all. Facebook has effectively become the public square, influencing what news we read, the arguments we have, what digital worlds we inhabit. People inside the system have the ability to change that, Crider argues, and stop the pollution of the information flows that democracy depends on. If only they had the power to act.Crider tells me she is “at home in conflict”. But behind the love of a scrap is perhaps what makes Crider most dangerous: a primordial care for people in trouble, whether that’s a 15-year-old boy unlawfully detained in Guantanamo Bay, or the Facebook moderator whose work has poisoned their ability to forge fulfilling human relationships.Facebook, and whichever entity is next in the firing line, should expect a fight. Crider is not out to settle. She does not believe entrenched power can simply be persuaded into changing course. And she has no faith in the tech founders to save us from the monsters they have birthed. Foxglove wants to make it cost, both reputationally and financially, such that business as normal is unviable, whether for governments outsourcing core public services to opaque algorithmic machines, or for the tech billionaires profiting from democracy’s decline.“This is not about persuading them to do the right thing: it’s about increasing the cost to them of persisting in their shitty behaviour,” she summarises. “We don’t need to win every time,” she smirks, “we just need to score enough wins that, eventually, the political calculus tips.”

How Reddit, at ~$6B arguably one of the most undervalued companies in world, can unlock the next step-change in valuation and protect against niche competitors (Mario Gabriele/The Generalist)

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“You ever stop to realize how fragile all this is?” 
George Carlin wears a black long-sleeved t-shirt, hunched over a microphone. In the minimalism of his outfit and the starkness of his bald pate, he almost resembles a tech executive delivering a keynote. But he’s too rumpled for that, too delightfully sour, as if a satyr stumbled through Steve Jobs’ wardrobe. 
“It wouldn’t take much to throw us right back into barbaric times. All you’d have to do would be eliminate electricity.” 
Carlin continues, embarking on one of his trademark quite-frightening-very-funny tirades, the flashes of incandescent, articulate fury that made him a genius. No electricity means no lights, he explains. No batteries. No fuel. No water. No computers. It means jail doors springing open, crime flooding the streets. 
It’s a bleak, bitter joke and serves as a coherent expression of Carlin’s particular weltanschauung: life is a sleepwalk along a knife-edge. It also shades his view of electricity and what it represents. When harnessed, it’s a mollifying, enlightening force; the thin membrane between civilization and barbarism. 
If Carlin is all rapid-fire verbosity in his 2005 set, he’s an expert of restraint in a complementary line: 
“Electricity is just organized lightning.” 
There are a hundred ways someone might describe a company like Reddit, but this is what we think of most. In its particular energy and vibrancy, its wild potential and ugly foibles, its kindness and cruelty, the social media platform occupies the liminal space of Carlin’s electricity. Just as it is close to some of our unseemliest instincts, so too is it a vehicle for creativity and connection. In short, Reddit is organized lightning. As the conductor of cultural currents, it may have more upside than any other social media company. 
In this piece, we’ll explore: 
Reddit’s topsy-turvy history
Why it’s undervalued
Where the company is headed
The Galaxy Brain moves to take it to the next level
r/History
Few companies have the narrative arc of Reddit. It’s a classic hero’s tale with a call to adventure, challenges and setbacks, and a triumphant return.
The beginning
The same year that Carlin delivered his iconic set, University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian took a drive. They headed for Boston, where computer scientist, writer, and entrepreneur Paul Graham was scheduled to give a talk. 
Huffman, a computer science student himself, was the motivating force, but he would have Ohanian to thank for brokering a meeting with Graham. As the story goes, at the end of the talk, Ohanian asked if Graham would come out to a drink with them. Over a few beers, Graham encouraged the pair to apply to his new incubator in Cambridge: Y Combinator. 
Like so many others, Ohanian and Huffman didn’t get in with their first idea. The pair pitched “My Mobile Menu,” a way to order food via text. While Graham didn’t like that MMM, he invited them to come back to Boston for a brainstorm. By the end of an hour, they’d hit on a new mission: build the “front page of the internet.” Reddit was born. 
It didn’t take long for the founding duo to ship v1. Written in Graham’s beloved Lisp, the site served as a fairly straightforward link aggregator that allowed for upvoting and downvoting. The first 100 accounts on the site were created by either Ohanian or Huffman to give the appearance of activity. A snapshot from the site from that period (thank you WayBackMachine) illustrates just how much of the culture was baked in early on, featuring conspiracy theories, wonkish dev chat, strong opinions, and “spez,” Huffman’s username.

‍Growing pains and the acquisition
Soon enough, Reddit added a third member. Aaron Schwartz, a coding prodigy also in YC’s cohort, merged his project, Infogami, with the company and hopped aboard. As Schwartz later told it, his reprogramming of the site from Lisp to Python coincided with a meaningful uptick in traffic: 

When I first started at Reddit, growth was slow. The site was put online very early — within weeks of starting work on it — but for the first three months it hardly got above three thousand visitors a day, which is about baseline for a useful RSS feed. Then, in a couple weeks of marathon coding sessions, we moved the site from Lisp to Python and I wrote an article about it for my blog. It got a lot of attention — Hell hath no fury like a Lisp fan scorned — and even today I still run into people at parties who, when I mention that I worked at Reddit, say “Oh, the site that switched from Lisp.”Around that time traffic really started taking off. In the next three months, our traffic doubled twice.

Reddit was off to the races, though it wouldn’t follow the parabolic growth trajectory of other social media companies. Instead, the site grew rapidly but relatively steadily. Still, even after the company reached millions of visitors a month, generating revenue remained a challenge. Again, from Schwartz: 

We still had no idea how to make money. We sold t-shirts on the site, but every time we made a little bit of money on those we spent it on ordering more t-shirts. We signed up with a major Web ad representative to sell ads on our site, but they never seemed to be able to sell any ads for us and we rarely made more than, literally, a couple of dollars a month. Another idea we had was licensing the “Reddit technology” to let other people build sites that worked like Reddit. But we couldn’t find anyone who wanted to license it from us.

That context explains why Reddit was tempted to sell just a year after founding, giving up ownership to Condé Nast for a reported $10 – $20 million. (The deal closed on Halloween). Over the following years, that initial trio drifted away from the company: Huffman to found Hipmunk, Ohanian to a Kiva Fellowship, and Schwartz to pursue web activism. (As you may know, Schwartz would go on to commit suicide in 2013.) 
Reddit continued to grow under corporate ownership, though it’s hard not to feel a shadow hanging over that trajectory. What might have been had the company capitalized instead of selling? How might Huffman, Ohanian, and Schwartz have stewarded Reddit and developed the product with the right support? 
The comeback
Perhaps recognizing it was not the best guardian of a social media business, Condé Nast spun Reddit out in 2011, with parent company Advance Networks serving as a passive shareholder. Yishan Wong joined as CEO the following year, leaving in 2014 after the company refused to move its HQ closer to his home in Daly City. He was replaced by Ellen Pao on an interim basis with Ohanian returning as executive chairman. When Pao was ousted in 2015, driven out of her role by a user base incensed over the firing of a popular Reddit employee, Huffman stepped back into the CEO seat. The band was back together. 
It’s hard to overstate just how central Reddit was to pop-culture over the decade that saw Ohanian and Huffman found the business, sell it, and return once more. In both good and bad moments, the valorous and vile, Reddit was there. It served as the de facto town square for events like “The Fappening,” the Sony Pictures hack, the Boston Bombing, GamerGate, and Pizzagate. 
Since retaking the reins, Huffman has shown a desire to grow Reddit’s product and stamp out the site’s most toxic elements. The mobile experience was improved. The site was redesigned. Video was introduced. And, thousands of hate-filled subreddits were expunged. 
Concerns that a more hands-on approach to moderation would curb the anarchic good-times vibe of the platform have been emphatically repudiated this year, with Reddit the ground-zero for the epic GameStop short squeeze. 
Despite being one of the internet’s most popular websites, sixteen years after it was founded, Reddit feels like it’s just getting started.
r/Value
Reddit is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued companies in the world. 
A little over a week ago, Huffman announced the company had raised $250 million in new capital at a valuation of $6 billion. The round was led by Dubai-based firm Vy Capital, with follow-ons from a16z, Sequoia, and Tencent. 
To which we have to say: $6 billion? That’s it? ‍
In a world in which Clubhouse is worth $1 billion after a year of (impressive) traction, and Dispo is pegged at $100 million for an app still in beta, Reddit — cultural petri-dish, bastion of expression, distributed hedge-fund, meme-maker, group-therapist — is only worth $6 billion?
A thought experiment
Humor us. You’re given the chance to look at two social media companies. Your job is to pick the one that you think has the highest valuation. Here are a couple details. 
Company 1
MAUs: 353 million
MAU growth YoY: 7%
Company 2 
MAUs: 430 million
MAU growth YoY: 30% 
Now, you’re right to be a bit grumpy with us. You don’t have much to go on, right? No revenue, no costs, no churn. How are you supposed to figure out which is most valuable without that information? But if any space is defined by user growth, above anything else, it’s social media. 
So which do you choose?
Company 1 is Twitter, worth $58 billion. Company 2, with more MAUs and 4x the growth, is Reddit. From a growth an engagement perspective, Reddit compares favorably to many of social media’s public behemoths with close to the same number of MAUs as Pinterest.


Yet, the implied value of a Reddit user is criminally low: 

‍Public and private market investors effectively value a Facebook DAU at 3.5x the price of a Reddit one, and a Facebook MAU at 19x of the Reddit equivalent.
Explanations and misconceptions
What is the rationale behind this aggressive discounting? We think it stems from outdated historical data and an anachronous view of the product. 
Sure, historically, Reddit has done a poor job of bringing in revenue on a per-user basis. In 2019, Reddit was said to have an average revenue per user (ARPU) of $0.30, much less than Facebook at $7.37, Twitter at $9.48, Pinterest at $2.80, and Snap at $2.09. But the revenue figure this calculation was based on was over 8 months old at the time, and the succeeding two years have seen strong strides in product and advertising. For example, advertising revenue was up a reported 90% year-over-year in Q4 of 2020. ARPU is likely considerably higher today. 
Another common argument is that Reddit users are less valuable because of the pseudonymity of the platform. Previously, you could sign up for an account without registering an email. That meant the company had less personal information about you, making targeted advertising more difficult and less valuable. But this is no longer the case. You now need an email to sign up, and as for relevant information…well, Reddit is quite literally a mapping of your interests. Joining r/Bitcoin is a pretty good sign you might be interested in a BlockFi advertisement while hopping into r/entrepreneurship makes you a good target for Stripe. 
Ultimately, the valuation displacement may come from misunderstanding and the stubbornness of outdated perceptions. Reddit is not a new name. And, in its design — despite improvements — it feels antiquated, still more similar to Craigslist than TikTok. But there are signs management is, finally, thinking big.
r/Roadmap
That more expansive thinking wasn’t necessarily expressed by Huffman after the recent round. Instead, the CEO noted that “our strategy isn’t materially changing.” At the same time, he outlined the company’s desire to expand geographically and push its video efforts. 
In addition to those stated interests, management also seems invested in crypto. Before making a few recommendations of our own, we’ll dig into these three initiatives.
Video 
Reddit was slow to bring video onto the platform, only adding native capabilities in 2017 (video ads were available for several months prior). Since then, it’s become a more prominent feature with the homepage often showcasing popular clips. 
The company followed that up with the introduction of live streaming in 2019, through a program called the Reddit Public Access Network. RPAN, as it is now known, allows select broadcasters to stream for 2-3 hours each, with time extensions earned through user rewards. Certain subreddits (r/talentShow, for example) offer live streaming outside of those windows. 
RPAN is still relatively new but it represents an interesting experiment for a few reasons. 
Firstly, because it provides a default for users. For so long, Reddit has been the platform of information overload: newcomers to the homepage are overwhelmed by the sheer density of information. RPAN changes that calculation. Instead of having to pick your way toward an interesting post, you can drop into a stream that’s been chosen for you. By restricting, Reddit offers a less cognitively-complicated way to browse. 
Secondly, RPAN reinforces spending behavior. In addition to selling ads, Reddit monetizes by selling “coins” to its members. These can then be used to tip or “gild” other users for their contributions to the platform. Data from Subreddit Stats illustrates that gilding per subscriber is highest in communities with RPAN availability.

‍Intuitively, this makes sense. Live performances have a certain intimacy and allure that encourages spending. To the extent that Reddit wants to create a culture of user generosity and build an endemic economy (think Roblox for snarky adults) RPAN may serve as an educating force. 
Beyond RPAN, those interested in the company may wish to keep a lookout for more interactive video features to emerge. In December, Reddit announced it was purchasing Dubsmash, a short-form video platform similar in tone and functionality to TikTok. As part of the deal, Dubsmash will remain independent but Reddit will begin to integrate the company’s video filtering. 
Perhaps just as critical as this new functionality is the audience Dubsmash brings. While Reddit skews male, Dubsmash is 70% female. It’s also a markedly diverse platform, with a reported 25% of black teenagers in the US on the app.
Our takeaway from all of this? Video has historically been an amphetamine for social media platforms — speeding up growth and supercharging engagement. That Reddit is so far behind here is worrying in some respect, but the recent moves and acquisitions show a desire to take it seriously. The upside of that decision could be significant.
Geographical expansion
For all of Reddit’s domestic popularity, the Gospel of Snoo has a rather limited following outside its native land. Of its roughly 430 million users, 222 million come from the US, over 50%. The drop-off after that is severe, with Australia providing the next largest tranche at 17.5 million, and India in third with a bit over 13.5 million.

Statista
If anything, these figures reinforce the importance of a viable video strategy. Reddit has two disadvantages in terms of internationalization when compared to other social networks: 
Text-first
Why does TikTok export so well? Because video is universal (or at least relatively so). A funny clip in one country is often funny in another. Moreover, music — at the heart of a platform like TikTok — has global appeal. The result is that content in an English-speaking country can go viral just as easily in a French-speaking one. Reddit doesn’t have this luxury. Since most of its content is written in English, its appeal is fundamentally limited in non-English speaking countries. 
Group-based
But, we hear you say, what about Twitter? Isn’t that fundamentally text-first too? You’re right. But the social graph on Twitter, as with many other networks, is organized on the individual level. Yes, you can follow “Topics” if you want to, but mostly you subscribe to hearing the thoughts of a particular person. That’s great for you as a user: the minimum viable number of users required to create a new source for your feed is 1. By following a single person, you start seeing their content. That granularity and low user to source ratio makes it easy to construct a feed of interesting information in the language of your choosing. 
Reddit is a little different. You don’t follow an individual (you can, but it’s not the default), you choose to follow a community, and a community is only valuable once a certain number of users are involved. As a result, the minimum viable number of users required to create a new source for your feed is higher. 
This is a challenge for internationalization. If I’m an Urdu speaker interested in history, the r/history subreddit is of limited use to me. Sure, I can translate if I want to, but that’s a cumbersome, time-consuming experience out of line with the frictionlessness of consumer internet products. Instead, I have to segment by both interest and language, hoping there’s an equivalent community available. And even if it is, for it to be sufficiently attractive, that community needs a user count (n) > 1. Realistically, it may need n > 50.


With those challenges in mind, it’s intriguing to think about where Reddit might want to grow its presence. Looking at the company’s Career page offers a few hints.‍

These are intriguing choices. Both France and Germany are affluent and have large English-speaking populations, making it easier to get off the ground and grow or maintain ARPU. Moreover, building a dedicated presence in these countries allows Reddit to accumulate native content in German and French. Neither are large markets today: Germany has a little under 4 million Reddit users while France has a meager 1 million. There’s an opportunity to realize meaningful revenue from both markets. 
Thinking about what comes next provokes more excitement. France and Germany may serve as testing grounds for pushes into Spain and Portugal. While the first two languages have roughly 150 million native speakers worldwide, the latter two boast 701 million. By establishing an active base in Spain, Reddit accumulates communities that can be accessed and enjoyed by users in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and so on. The same applies to Portugal and Brazil. 
For now, Reddit’s expansion looks fairly cautious. But in due time and with the right selection, it may greatly expand its reach. 
Crypto
While Facebook fumbles through the wreckage left by the artist formerly known as Libra (now Diem), Reddit has rolled out some promising integrations of on-platform cryptocurrency. Built on top of Ethereum, Reddit has minted endemic currencies for two subreddits: r/CryptoCurrency and r/FortNiteBR. 
For participating and creating content on r/CryptoCurrency, users are rewarded with “Moons,” which can be subsequently used to purchase special badges, or additional functionality (like responding to posts with a GIF). The size of your holdings also affect your influence on polls held by the subreddit: the richer you are, the more your vote matters. A similar system exists on r/FortNiteBR with fans of Epic’s game receiving payment in “Bricks.”

As it stands, this effort is not particularly revolutionary, with both currencies functioning similarly to loyalty points. But it lays the groundwork for a more extensive push into creating a native economy. And, in the meantime, it further normalizes the tipping culture that Reddit uses to monetize. 
While Huffman might downplay Reddit’s dynamism, it’s apparent from these projects that plenty is going on beneath the surface.
r/GalaxyBrain
Former CEO Yishan Wong said, “In the context of social media, Reddit is more about the media than the personalities.” 
As part of the Huffman revolution, the company should rethink that positioning. Moreover, it should make no-brainer improvements to the core product, make it easy to transact, lean into its most ludic elements, and ultimately, unbundle itself. 
Here are our nine suggestions, organized from easiest to trickiest, simplest to most profound. 
No brainers
Reddit has never been the most adventurous product organization. When Huffman returned in 2016 the company had one iOS developer. For years, Redditors used third-party clients to access the site on their phones. And while a comprehensive redesign was rolled out in 2019, it leaves plenty to be desired. There are three no-brainer improvements Reddit should make. 
Redesign browsing
When you visit the homepage or a subreddit, you’re faced with a list-view of different posts. To see one of them, you click it. To see comments, you have to click again. To go to the next post, you have to page back, scroll, and click again. 
In theory, this isn’t so different from Twitter. But because of the relative information density of a Reddit post, it quickly becomes cumbersome. To get to the part you care about, you have to click twice. To see something new you have to click another two times. 
Compare this to something like Imgur. The platform was started as a way for Redditors to host photos, another example of Reddit allowing others to fulfill core functionality. Today, when you visit Imgur, a card-based feed organized by virality appears. So far, this isn’t so dissimilar to Reddit. Once you click a card though, things change: you’re thrust into consumption mode. By paging left or right, you automatically see the next post, along with all associated comments. This a powerful change, making it easier for the user to quickly find the content they care about instead of clicking in and out of different posts. It also makes serving ads more compelling — instead of a sponsorship taking up a fraction of the page that a user can quickly scroll past, ads on Imgur look exactly like a post and you default to seeing them in your browsing flow. 
Why hasn’t Reddit done this already? It may speak to a lack of confidence around the broad appeal of “hot” posts or insecurity around the company’s recommendations. This brings us to our next point…
Improve recommendations
Even after a user subscribes to a particular subreddit, recommendations are unengaging. Just as importantly Reddit doesn’t do a good job of suggesting newsubreddits to check out and join. 
This is hard to quantify, so let’s look at one of our profiles. Now look, I’m something of a lurker on Reddit, enjoying the comments of others but rarely participating myself. To that extent, perhaps the company doesn’t know that much about me, even though I belong to a couple of dozen communities. 
When I visit the homepage today, here’s what I see:


What do I have to choose from? Two r/wallstreetbets posts (very rarely visit), one r/CareerSuccess post with 0 comments and 1 upvote (can’t remember ever visiting), a r/VenturedCapital blog with 0 comments and 1 upvote, a r/science post with an insanely long headline that I will certainly not read while browsing, an even longer headline from r/uselvid, a live stream with no information, and something from r/ThatsInsane that looks vaguely entertaining. 
These are the best eight posts Reddit could find to grab my attention?
Now, let’s look at the suggestions the homepage makes. It shares the day’s “Top Growing Communities” and “Trending Communities.” As a user, it’s unclear what the difference is between the two, and it’s also obvious they haven’t been chosen for me.


Does it make sense that I’m being encouraged to check out the German Netflix community? How about r/CasualIreland, r/Munich, or r/StadtEssen? (Looks like they may have found that German country manager after all…) 
The dreadfulness of this page is infuriating partially because it would take so little to make it better. Why not show me communities similar to those I’ve signed up for? (And message that in copy). Or show me subreddits that people I’ve interacted with belong to?
Make search functional
The final no-brainer improvement Reddit should make is improving its search function. Again, it’s somewhat mind-boggling that the company has reached this point without a better solution. 
Reddit is one of the largest compendiums of fascinating information on earth. It has over a decade of nuanced, interesting, informative conversation to be discovered, each embedded within a distinct community. But finding information within a community is nigh-on-impossible because Reddit’s search cannot be limited to a certain subreddit. That means if I want to know what people on r/politics have said about Gavin Newsom, my only choices are to browse and hope I come across something, or search across the entirety of the Reddit platform. That means wading through posts from r/atheism, r/conservative, and others that I don’t care about. 
Beyond allowing search to be filtered by subreddit, the company should weigh results by context. Right now, results can only be filtered by engagement and timeframe. There appears to be no priority for posts from users I’ve interacted with. 
Meaningful upgrades
Ok, we’ve got the easy stuff out of the way. Now, it’s time for Reddit to tackle three more meaningful projects: elevating the profile, empowering creators, and making it easy to buy (and sell) on the platform. 
Elevating the profile
In 2012, Barack Obama came on Reddit for an AMA. Interest in the event was so popular it crashed the site. 
But has Obama been back since then? Has he (or more reasonably, his team) posted once in the intervening nine years? When you search for him as a user, there’s no sign of him. Compare that to Twitter: he has 129.5 million followers and last tweeted 21 hours ago. 
As it stands, high-profile people have little incentive to maintain a presence on the platform. No social capital seems to be granted for a large following, and the ability to influence is limited. 
Now, this is part of what makes Reddit unique. Faceless accounts can share fascinating tidbits with impunity. But to encourage usage from compelling personalities (and encourage the social jockeying that makes social media work), Reddit needs to make profiles a bigger deal. Let’s looking at Huffman’s profile, u/spez:

While there are some nice additions here (we’ll talk about avatars in a minute), it doesn’t feel like a particularly compelling profile. There’s no follower count (Karma is too fluid and ineffable a currency to gauge influence), bios are limited, there are no pictures, no location, no obvious place to link outside projects.
The result is a portrait of what seems like a fairly non-descript user — not the CEO of fascinating company. As it stands, users are unable to adequately benefit from the work they do on the platform. The solution may be in leaning into the creator economy movement. 
Creator-first
There are signs that Reddit is thinking through the profile issue and taking the creator movement seriously. This past week, Peter Yang, author of a newsletter called “Creator Economy” announced he had joined Reddit to lead their efforts in this field. 
Again, Reddit’s “Careers” page further validates this interest. The company is hiring a Social Media Partnerships Manager in the space, along with a Product Manager. 

While neither description gives a great deal of insight into what will be built, they do note the desire to facilitate true creator engagement and monetization. That may involve revamped profiles as well as better moderation and community management tools. 
Rather than hosting a community on Slack or Circle, this new team should work to have them build on Reddit. This could prove incredibly powerful. Not only would users be able to join (and pay) within an experience they’re familiar with (a real reduction of friction), Reddit could drive traffic to chosen creators. For paid communities, that would improve top-line revenue in a way that tools like Slack couldn’t. 
Create an economy
Reddit is already a place people look for jobs, homes, and second-hand items. Today, those transactions occur off-platform, but there’s no reason why Reddit shouldn’t bring that in-house. 
In particular, Reddit should make it easy for subreddits to pay-gate their community, sell merchandise (physical and digital), and post jobs. In effect, moderators work for free right now, but if supported correctly, many might be able to make a living from it, allowing them to devote their time to improve their corner of the platform. (There are a few subreddits which allow for some degree of pay-gating).
The contours of this strategy are beginning to manifest with Reddit’s encouragement of tipping and its cryptocurrency experiment. In time, we’d love to see the company run an economy equivalent to Roblox: users would buy Redditbux with cash and spend it on Reddit Marketplace, buying access to private subreddits, purchasing swag, and acquiring new flair or NFTs. 
This final category is worth lingering on. Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are having a moment, with NBA Topshots constantly selling out, Mark Cuban tokenizing and shilling his tweets, and a remastered GIF of Nyan Cat selling for nearly $600K. Reddit is perfectly positioned to capitalize on this momentum. After all, Reddit is the place memes are made. It would make sense for it to become the place to sell them, too. 
Finally, adopting an intrinsic currency would create a virtuous free cash flow cycle (as discussed in our Roblox piece) and further entwine Redditors with the platform with users loathe to forfeit Redditbux or the items purchased with it. 
Galaxy Brain moves
If Reddit achieves everything we’ve listed so far, they might see their value appreciate 5-10x. But the company feels uniquely ready to take on some truly radical projects thanks to Huffman’s hand at the tiller and the capital they’ve brought in. 
Our final three ideas are on the more wild side: embrace the metaverse, own the conversation from end-to-end, and unbundle its winners. 
The Snooniverse
Ohanian is said to have doodled up the design for Snoo, Reddit’s mascot, in his senior year of UVA. Over the years, Snoo has taken on different forms for major holidays, and become an essential part of Reddit’s brand. But it was only in December of last year that users were given the chance to deeply customize their own Snoo.

The “Avatar Builder” allows Redditors to customize their Avatar with freely available styles, or upgrade to Premium to unlock other forms of expression. It’s a savvy way to create more engaging profiles (though there’s still work to be done) and encourage members to sign up for a paying membership. It lays the groundwork for Reddit to move more directly into gaming-style environments.
Over the years, Reddit has used April Fools’ Day as an opportunity to test out new functionality. These almost always take the form of a game. 
The Button, 2015. A one-minute countdown timer that reset every time a new user pressed it. It finally ran down to zero in June of 2015 after a user failed to press it within the 60-seconds.
Place, 2016. At r/place, Redditors could choose to color in a single pixel of a large canvas. Before coloring another pixel, users had to wait 5 to 20 minutes. Eventually, groups began to collaborate to create pixelated flags, pictures, and even a rendering of the Mona Lisa.
Circle of Trust, 2018. Users could create private, password-gated communities that showed up in a subreddit with a special animation. To grow the group, users  shared the password. But if a new member wanted, they could “betray” the community, meaning no new members could be added. 
Sequence, 2019. The closest Reddit has ever gotten to a “Stories” feature, Sequence allowed groups to vote on sentences or GIFs to add to a “sequence.” Bit by bit, a story formed. 
Imposter, 2020. Users answer the same set of questions. An AI, the “imposter,” reads these answers and comes up with an answer of its own. Then each player is tasked with determining which of five possible answers is computer-generated. 
The mechanics in several of these are not so dissimilar to hit games like Among Us. Could Reddit host a game like that? Or give tools to users to create new games of their own? 
Already, the company seems interested in monetizing like free-to-play mobile games do, incentivizing the purchase of coins to buy badges and cosmetic upgrades. How much could Reddit juice this aspect through simple subreddit-specific games? As a starting point, it would be interesting to see the company experiment with spatial audio and video, giving communities the ability to open “rooms” which avatars could use to roam around and socialize. 
In the long-run, Reddit could build out the richness of these spaces to become synthetic social environments, similar to those on Roblox. The result might look something like a metaverse. 
Own the conversational pipeline 
What is Reddit exceptional at? Facilitating conversation. But its current structure is only set up for one particular type of asynchronous dialogue. That’s allowed places like Discord to flourish on the back of the platform’s community-building work. 
Take the case of someone like u/DeepFuckingValue (DFV), the Redditor at the heart of the $GME short squeeze. To spread his gospel, what did his user journey look like? 
He bought his position in $GME on ETrade. Then he discussed it on Reddit. He followed that up with videos on YouTube. And perhaps, like so many others from the r/WallStreetBets forum, he jumped over to Discord to discuss his research. 


Except for DFV’s first step, the purchase, Reddit should own every aspect of this pipeline. The fact that it doesn’t speaks to some of the failings we’ve already enumerated: if Reddit had rich profiles, true creator support, and better video, DFV wouldn’t need to go to YouTube. If Reddit supported voice rooms, the migration to Discord would be superfluous. 
As it stands, Reddit is letting a lot of the value it creates leak into other platforms. While it seems to understand the importance of video, the company should pay attention to the emergence of platforms like Clubhouse, too. Audio should become a core part of the Reddit platform. Let’s hope we see something voice-related for 2021’s April Fools’ experiment. (Btw, I think this will be the case. If someone wants to take the other side of a $50 bet, respond to this email. The first person to respond, we have a deal.) 
Unbundle itself
There’s no better place to end. To unlock the next step-change in valuation and protect against niche competitors, Reddit should unbundle itself. 
What does this mean practically? 
Again, Imgur provides inspiration. In 2019, the platform announced that it had created “Melee” an offshoot app designed specifically for gamers. While much of the core functionality is the same, it made it easier to trim your game highlights and import content from Xbox, Playstation, Switch, Nvidia, and other platforms. Imgur recognized they had a strong interest-specific community and decided it was worth building a home and toolset just for them. 
Reddit can do the same thing with its most popular, active, and lucrative subreddits. This doesn’t mean the company has to create new apps for each community, but it should create dedicated teams to build for its winning communities like r/science, r/gaming, r/investing, r/photography, and more. The cryptocurrency work Reddit has done with r/CryptoCurrency and r/FortNiteBR suggests management is thinking about this — we hope there’s much more to come.

“It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.” 
Ray Charles was talking about the “soul” when he uttered those words, but he could have been talking about Reddit. A decade and a half after its inception, it still feels like the world doesn’t really know, doesn’t understand, what Reddit is. 
And yet, it is still here, at the center of culture, influencing our markets and politics, lighting up the room. To structure Reddit too rigidly, to overly organize its lightning, would kill some of the magic. But in its quest to realize its full power, Huffman and company may wish for a little less illumination and a little more definition. 
Thank you to Alex Kuang, Yashar Nejati, Peter Yang, Greg Neufeld for their thoughts on this subject.