From incubator to exit: A brief history of Reddit, the first YCombinator success


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  • My name is jeremy\n\nThanks for coming to see me and not Harry Potter today.\n
  • So who am I and why I am I here?\n\nI was the first employee of reddit.\n\nI worked there for 4 years.\n\nI knew the team from just a few months after they were founded.\n\nI’m here today to tell you about a successful startup exit,\nto give you insight into the first 6 years of it’s life\nand to tell you some lessons learned, and show you\nsome info porn.\n\nI was not there at the beginning, and that is not my story to tell,\nso I will be giving you the outsider’s perspective of the first 1.5\nyears before I joined.\n\nHow many of you use reddit?\n\nHow many have used it today?\n\n
  • \nreddit is a community where people come together\nshare and discuss interesting things on the internet \nsuch as links to other stuff \nor create their own content.\n
  • Steve convinced Alexis to take their spring break to go from Virgina\nto boston and apply. the originally got rejected, but they \nwere called back while they were on the train to VA.\nThey were admitted, as long as they agreed to try a new idea.\nThat idea was “delicious with voting” and it looked like this.\n\n
  • This was what the site looked like on the day it launched.\n\nThe downing street memo was the first submission, and all\nof the users were the founder’s friends, family or their alternate\naccounts.\n\nin fact, most all of the activity on the site at the time was their\nown shill accounts. Luckily there was no commenting then.\n\nWelcome to bootstraping your community.\n\nThey knew they had made it the first day they didn’t have to use\nany of their shill accounts.\n
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  • Tell the story of going to startup school, going to the \nparty, giving them a resume.\n
  • reddit loves nerdy humor too.\n
  • Tell the story of getting steve to add the feature\n\nThe story of steve’s warcraft guild and how video\ngames are important to reddit’s history\n
  • This was the very first comment on reddit\n\nMost of the others were similar, saying it was\nthe worst thing ever, and then end of reddit.\n\nToday, comments are the main attraction of reddit.\n\nLesson: Your users aren’t always right\n
  • In fact, today, 1/3 of all the content on reddit\nare comments only.\n\nHere is a graph of the percentage of content that are\ncomments only. The spike is when we added self-text,\nbasically a “sticky” comment.\n
  • Through the founder’s constant networking, they had a friend\nof a friend who worked for Conde Nast.\n\nFirst, there was a partnership.\n
  • Conde Nast had a great domain name, and nothing to do with\nit. Paid them to run lipstick -- their first major deal and \nmonitization, besides just a few ads.\n\nUpgraded them from ramen and pizza to burgers and \npasta.\n
  • The sale of reddit was basically negotiated over a game of halo\n
  • On october 31, 2006, Conde Nast bought reddit.\n\nIt was the first public exit of a Ycombinator company,\nbut not actually the first. The first was TextPayMe,\nwhich was bought quietly by Amazon. The founders of \nTextPayMe are now working on a new startup, cupid’s play,\na site combining online dating and social games.\n
  • And added reddit to their website portfolio\n
  • It was a busy time.\n\nOne of the founders had to move from Boston to SF \nin one day.\n\nThe other worked part time while finishing his PhD,\nwhich he did just in time for his wedding in summer\nof 2007, and I joined reddit.\n
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  • Users not only voted on the content, but wiki’d the rules\nand helped drive the site.\n\nThe software was made to make it easy for users -- less\npage loads, even though that hurt ad revenue, for example\n\nEvery decision at reddit starts with “how will this affect the users”\n\nWe love interacting with our community. We all use reddit, and \nwe address feedback. What other site would have their biggest \nfaults listed at the top of their front page?\n
  • The great drinking tour of 2007\n\nSpeaking of interacting with the users.\n\nWe were as excited to meet them as they were to meet us.\n\nWent back to the original apartment in boston,\nalien graffiti was still there\n\nWent “hacking” at MIT.\n
  • Traffic for the first year after acquisition.\n
  • We migrated all of the data we could, but because we had such thin resources in the datacenter, we couldn’t even spare the capacity to replicate all of the data beforehand.\n\nUsing what we had, we got a complete stack running on EC2, and did as much testing as we could.\n\nThen on Friday May 15th, 2009, at 8pm, we shut down reddit, and starting moving the rest of the data to EC2.\n\nWe had the site up and running on EC2 at 5am the next day, and because of our CDN, many users didn’t even notice, since they were still getting the old cached pages.\n
  • Mainly because I hated racking servers.\n
  • Last may when we moved, this was the price breakdown I came up with.\n
  • In June, 2008, we open sourced the code.\n\nWe figured at that point, our code was not our advantage,\nour community was. So why not share what we learned, and\nmaybe get some contributions?\n\nTell the story of Steve and not switching to git.\n\nIt was our first hard deadline, since a large press event had been\nset up weeks before. We stayed up all night getting ready,\nand then watched the logs with trepidation as people started\ndownloading the code.\n
  • The story of the plane, the worm and how it was fixed.\n
  • In October of 2009, 3 years after the acquisition, the founders leave.\n\nActually, that’s not true. One left, the other stayed till January\n(and is now back part time), and\nthe last stayed almost a year longer.\n
  • Explain self serve\n\nTalk about reddit gold\n
  • This is a graph of our costs vs. our traffic\n\nHere you can see where we started spending the money from reddit gold\n\nreddit gold is a huge success.\n\n\n\n\n
  • reddit gold not only brought in money, but helped us\nshow management just how many people love reddit.\n
  • A truly humbling experience\nbringing that many people together,\ntotal strangers sharing cars and hotels,\njust because they are “redditors”\n
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  • traffic, all time\n
  • same thing in log scale.\n
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  • You can contact me in one of these ways,\n or ask your question now.\n\nthank you.\n
  • \n
  • Here is a picture I found on reddit this morning.\n
  • Here’s a picture of the internet\n
  • reddit also likes 80’s TV shows.\n
  • \n
  • Here is a delorian towing a delorian\n
  • From incubator to exit: A brief history of Reddit, the first YCombinator success

    1. 1. Jeremy Edberg
    2. 2. What is reddit?reddit is an online community
    3. 3. Way back in 2005...• Two UVA students applied for this thing called YCombinator• They were rejected• They were called back
    4. 4. June 23rd, 2005
    5. 5. Traffic -- Year 1 Uniques PV15M11M8M4M0M Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May
    6. 6. How I met the founders
    7. 7. How I did them a favorand got a feature added to reddit.
    8. 8. December 12, 2005
    9. 9. Serendipity was the key to acquisition
    10. 10.
    11. 11. Conde Nast buys reddit
    12. 12. Late 2006 to mid 2007
    13. 13. What made reddit successful?• Empowered users• Better software• Community interaction
    14. 14. Traffic kept growing Uniques Pageviews50M38M25M13M0M
    15. 15. Moving to EC2• Started by migrating all data• Got a complete stack running on EC2• Long Friday night finishing the migration and “forklifting” the last bits of data
    16. 16. Imaging and Racking Servers Is A (Sometimes Fun) Chore
    17. 17. BenefitsData Center (per month) EC2 (per month) Servers: $6K Servers: $13K Cabinet (x3): $15K Storage: $1.5K Bandwidth: $2.5K Bandwidth: $1.1K Support: N/A Support: $1.2K Total: $23.5K Total: $16.8K 29% Cheaper! Based on Amazon public pricing, reddit open source Estimated Pricing code, and public configuration information
    18. 18. Open Sourcing
    19. 19. The WormOr, why you should never have your entire team on one airplane.
    20. 20. The founders leave
    21. 21. How does reddit make money?• Sidebox ads• Self-serve ads• Merchandise• reddit gold
    22. 22. Monthly Page Views and1,300M Costs $130,000.001,080M $108,000.00 860M $86,000.00 reddit gold is launched 640M $64,000.00 420M $42,000.00 200M $20,000.00 Mar May Jul Sep Nov Jan Mar
    23. 23. The rally
    24. 24. Infoporn
    25. 25. 1,500M1,125M 750M 375M 0M
    26. 26. 10,000M 1,000M 100M 10M 1M 0M 0M 0M 0M 0M 0M
    27. 27. Stats
    28. 28. Stats• 832 Virtual CPUs• 1.7TB of RAM• 43TB of Elastic Block Storage• 2.1TB of S3 Storage• 66 TB Data Out / 12TB Data In per month• 50 Votes / sec @ peak• 280 comments / 33 links per minute @ peak• About 54 transactions / second
    29. 29. Just a quick reminder... reddit is open source patches are now being accepted!
    30. 30. Getting in touchEmail: jedberg@gmail.comTwitter: @jedbergWeb: www.jedberg.netFacebook: