Reddit CEO Urges Staff to Dismiss Backlash and Brace for Blackout Fallout
In a leaked internal memo obtained by The Verge, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addresses the recent uproar surrounding the company, instructing employees to disregard the criticism and suggesting that the ongoing blackout of thousands of subreddits will eventually fade away.
The memo responds to the widespread blackout of popular subreddits as a form of protest against the company’s raised API pricing for third-party apps. Several prominent Reddit clients claim that the new pricing structure could potentially cost them millions of dollars annually. Over 8,000 Reddit communities have joined the blackout, with some indicating an indefinite stay in private mode until changes are made by Reddit.
Huffman reassures employees that the blackout has not had a significant impact on revenue thus far, expressing confidence that many subreddits will be back online by Wednesday. He acknowledges the tumultuous nature of the situation, describing it as one of the most vociferous instances Reddit has faced. However, he assures staff that their teams are actively addressing the issues and emphasizes that like previous controversies, this one too shall pass. He emphasizes the importance of adhering to their commitments, enhancing their product, and successfully launching critical mod tools in the near future.
Cautioning employees about the potential backlash, Huffman advises against wearing Reddit-branded attire in public. He acknowledges the intense frustration users feel towards the API pricing changes and aims to protect staff from becoming the targets of such frustration.
The API pricing alterations were initially announced by Reddit in April, with the intention of monetizing the usage of Reddit data for training artificial intelligence tools. However, the recent developments have revealed the adverse impact on third-party app developers. Apps such as Apollo for Reddit and rif is fun for Reddit have announced their impending shutdown on June 30th, one day prior to the implementation of the new pricing structure. Users, outraged by these changes, organized widespread subreddit blackouts, briefly overwhelming the site on Monday.
While the leaked memo indicates Reddit’s CEO addressing the ongoing situation, it is expected to provoke strong reactions from the Reddit community.
Read the full memo below:
Starting last night, about a thousand subreddits have gone private. We do anticipate many of them will come back by Wednesday, as many have said as much. While we knew this was coming, it is a challenge nevertheless and we have our work cut out for us. A number of Snoos have been working around the clock, adapting to infrastructure strains, engaging with communities, and responding to the myriad of issues related to this blackout. Thank you, team.
We have not seen any significant revenue impact so far and we will continue to monitor.
There’s a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well. The most important things we can do right now are stay focused, adapt to challenges, and keep moving forward. We absolutely must ship what we said we would. The only long term solution is improving our product, and in the short term we have a few upcoming critical mod tool launches we need to nail.
While the two biggest third-party apps, Apollo and RIF, along with a couple others, have said they plan to shut down at the end of the month, we are still in conversation with some of the others. And as I mentioned in my post last week, we will exempt accessibility-focused apps and so far have agreements with RedReader and Dystopia.
I am sorry to say this, but please be mindful of wearing Reddit gear in public. Some folks are really upset, and we don’t want you to be the object of their frustrations.
Again, we’ll get through it. Thank you to all of you for helping us do so.