The “Beginning Of The End” For Reddit?

Reddit has announced its plans to sell shares to the public, and not everyone is happy about it.

Since its inception in 2005, this platform has served as an online forum where people can discuss and share their thoughts, interests, hobbies, and passions. Its inclusive and community-driven atmosphere has cultivated a dedicated following over the years.

However, the recent news of Reddit’s decision to enter the public market has left many users feeling disheartened. Reports from the BBC demonstrate that Redditors have expressed sentiments such as viewing this move as the “beginning of the end” and lamenting that “they ruined it”.

So, why is there such a sense of disappointment among the Reddit community?

A New Age: Reddit Files To Go Public

On Thursday, Reddit officially filed for its highly-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), marking a significant milestone as the first major social media platform to do so since Snapchat in 2017.

The decision to go public means that not only investors but also devoted followers will have the opportunity to purchase shares in the IPO.

Reddit has unveiled plans to allocate shares based on users’ “karma,” a value that measures their contributions and standing within the community. Essentially, the platform will gauge users’ engagement and reputation to determine their eligibility to buy shares. The higher a user’s karma levels, the greater their chance of acquiring shares in the platform.

In explaining this strategy, co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said in a letter in Thursday’s filing: “Our users have a deep sense of ownership over the communities they create on Reddit. We want this sense of ownership to be reflected in real ownership – for our users to be our owners”.

“Becoming a public company makes this possible.”

A Sign Of The Stock Market Times

While Mr. Huffman emphasises that the decision to go public is primarily about granting users genuine ownership, Reddit’s filing likely stems from the downturn in the broader IPO market.

Despite recruiting its inaugural chief financial officer and other executives three years ago, Reddit continues to operate at a loss. Mr. Huffman has long explored the possibility of an IPO and explored alternative avenues such as advertising and e-commerce to expand the business.

According to CNN, despite boasting an expanded user base of 73 million daily active users by late 2023, the platform reported a net loss of $90.8 million in 2023.

Reddit anticipates that its total addressable advertising market will expand to $1.4 trillion by 2027 and, while the filing does not say how much money the firm is hoping to raise by listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the platform evidently hopes that its latest filing will help it toward achieving this objective.

Why Are Users Upset?

“Dive into anything” proudly declares Reddit, which also touts itself as the “front page of the internet”.

But users are worried this is all about to change and that the IPO filling will change the site’s spirit.

“When the most important customers shift from [users] to shareholders, the product always [suffers],” said one person, according to the BBC.

“It becomes ‘what can we do this quarter to squeak out an additional point of revenue’, instead of ‘how can we make this product better’.”

Unfortunately for Reddit, this is not the first time users have expressed discontent at how the site is being run.

In 2023, thousands of Reddit communities blocked their forums, or “subreddits,” in protest against contentious issues like third-party app developers interfacing with the platform.

This time around, users are dismayed by the prospect of their contributions and reputation being leveraged to earn karma for purchasing shares in the platform. They argue that this approach will diminish the platform’s communal feel, transforming it into a profit-driven endeavour.

While Reddit has weathered past controversies, only time will reveal how Redditors will navigate this latest challenge.