‘Reddit.com is turning its back on the foundations on which it was built!’ ‘Gawker.com is selling out and risking everything!’ Well if you ask me I will tell you that for veteran internet companies like Reddit (founded 2005) and Gawker (founded 2002), their two principals Steve Huffman and Nick Denton are 100% right. Of course when it comes to moving to or maintaining a sustainable revenue model I will almost always be a brand’s champion.
For those unfamiliar, both stories are quite interesting and important. For Reddit to admit that unregulated hate threads are not what the brand stands for, was an about face from their heretofore core principles. This is not the Reddit of 2002, or even 2010 for that matter. Reddit has millions of dedicated users. Despite its desire to be appealing to the widest possible amount of people – even those with extreme opinions, Reddit today is too big and too important to cater to fringe audiences.
For those that will leave Reddit (those fringe audiences), they will find other forums in which to foster their hate and vitriol. And if they cannot find those forums they will build new ones and that’s just fine. In the meantime Mr. Huffman has done the public and his company a great service in the process. The not-unimportant by-product is securing a more successful business model and future.
As for Mr. Denton’s undoubtedly excruciating decision to pull down content not due to legal concerns, let those on the fringe travel down those narrow corridors of ‘pure-truth’ posts independent of who might be antagonized. Apparently those people do not have businesses to run or employees, rent and vendors to pay.
There will always be need and reason to test the outer limits (see Donald Trump’s attempt to win the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination), and in a country that values free speech, fringe forums will and should continue to exist. When there is a business to be run however, choices have to be made and as far as I am concerned the right choices have been made in both cases.
Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog. Tim is an author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, investor (FB, Uber, Twitter, 50+ more), and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast (400M+ downloads)