Alexis Ohanian AMA at SXSW 2017
Q #1 Alexander: Number one question would you rather fight a horse sized dog or a hundred dog sized horses
A. Well Alexander %HESITATION you know I used to be I use to be a no brainer horse sized duck guy because I felt like I have a mental advantage over the dock I I enjoy eating doc all the time I feel like it would intimidate me they don’t have teeth horses even small ones kinda scare me a little %HESITATION I’m I you know now I’m still sticking with I’m going with the Horse Sized Duck, I want the one target I’m not I don’t wanna mess with Hundreds Horses.
Q.#2 Jordi:okay Jordy how can we stimulate people to have the pseudo connections in real life instead of just online
A. That’s a good question I think what we’ve seen we have actually seen happen our relationships and connections that start online that start on
Reddit that become offline right that become a phone call or Skype or meet up on I think it’s I think if you’re having if you’re having these conversations face to face it really starts getting into how do you create that trust where people can feel like they speak freely and authentically how do you build that instantly is just really hard %HESITATION that’s one of the advantages that software has any username has because it it creates that natural increase natural wall fearful and yet open enough to share — but I think as a general rule if we have opportunities I mean I use thanksgiving is my favorite example right we as Americans actually every year have a ritual more we confront people generally speaking whose views we probably don’t agree with and it’s called thanksgiving and those conversations are couched in this idea of togetherness and not being thankful which you get things — but I really feel like become I mean that at the core is the opportunity for us and these are difficult conversations to have these are these are conversations that I’ve struggled with that’s why I love using Reddit all the time because it’s a lot easier to have them but they’re so so so important
Q,#3 Michael Pratt, AEI: what’s the future of Reddit Twitter Facebook
A. wow- okay well I hope read it can be I hope read it can occupy a space
for all of those deep — for those types of connections where you’re trying to find — you want the best information you want to know what the Raman community thinks is actually the best Rahman in Austin or or you just you want to meet someone who understands the subtleties of great eye shadow like you do right those types of connections happen on Reddit because we’re not bound by that social graph and and I think like I said Facebook provides a really important role for people I’m I’m I’m dismissive of it but I’m not I don’t dismiss it right it’s it’s still important but it’s the depth that were chasing after and that’s the reason why I think people trust the content they find their why people go out of their way to be this is read it helps people decide which shoes to buy %HESITATION what what what just do what movie to go see it has it has influence because word of mouth that authentic word of mouth has always made the difference that’s been the reason you’ve done those things those water cooler discussions never scale before and now they can -I can’t speculate on the future of Twitter or Facebook I mean they will probably there will probably be around for a long time %HESITATION and again I think they’re all part of an ecosystem I just wanna read it to be much bigger part of it
Q.#4 Anonymous: who is my personal hero — anonymous
A.Tom if I see my parents are gonna be like that was lame but it’s my parents -awe- it’s true I they they %HESITATION they they I think my dad barely understands even what I do to this day %HESITATION but the foundation that he my mom provided have made me everything that I am so my parents then with you that the real the real hustle being a founder by comparison was a lot easier
Q.#5 Cynan Clucas: how can brands get involved in the platform
A.this is Felix Morgan talking brands involve the platform beyond just buying ads what the opportunities for deeper engagement given how remarkable the community is? Great question Felix. This is something we’ve wrestled with because there are there are brands that users want to hear from right there are brands that people genuinely like most of these brands are ones that have been developed in the last ten years because they had to be making something people wanted because if they didn’t they wouldn’t exist probably %HESITATION but what makes Redditt it’s what makes this community so special is it’s just a place for fans it’s an organic place that we want to always be that way so the goal is gonna be to create something that doesn’t compromise the value of those communities being organic authentic spaces for fans and still let’s let’s brands have a voice just one that’s like clearly delineated as that brand %HESITATION so I think I think it’s at separation that balance it’s going to be the important one to figure out
Q.#6 Michael:: What was with — what? — did I? Michael said: “What was with your gushing over trump after his address to Congress?”
A. You’re going to have to remind me when this was — ’cause I’m pretty sure that wasn’t me. Is there a link. Ok. Tweet me the citation cause I’m pretty sure — have I ever….
Q. #7 purpleduck42: Mrs purple duck forty two excellent user name “have you ever won a point off of Serena”
A. I have never picked up a tennis racket purple duck forty two, so it now I will I have never nor would I %HESITATION
Q #8 anonymous: is there a community you know that’s not on Reddit and you wish were
A. Man yes everything like just about every non-English language can %HESITATION like there’s only a handful that are non English language because we’ve never done anything to internationalize we want to it’s just not unfortunatly a priority right now so that’s the dream I would love I would love there’s gonna be I mean for every English language community on Reddit for every R/beards and that’s not the only Beard related communion Reddit shot out our slash beard porn safe for work mostly %HESITATION right there is a version of that in German and Japanese and Chinese and Spanish etcetera %HESITATION so that would be fundamental
Q.#9 anonymous: if I could have dinner with three Reddit users who are they and why
A. yeah Bill Gates there we go just did a great AMA amazing amazing human %HESITATION man %HESITATION my fiance that’s good I want to have dinner with her and %HESITATION I want my dad that’ll be good
yeah but we have never — Bill will be like what the hell am I doing here
he’d be so disappointed a okay %HESITATION
Q.#10: anonymous can you expand on how you prevent harassment on the platform
A. Well, less it’s less about preventing and more about stopping when it happens I mean as a general rule the content policy outlines like harassment is not allowed here is like here is harassment %HESITATION and with that policy and then with a trust and safety team that forces it %HESITATION it’s pretty straight forward and you know enough users get bannedwe have our anti evil team doing some pretty clever things on the back end to the make sure that even though they try to evade the ban we still twart them %HESITATION it get preview pretty handily takes care of it %HESITATION one of each things we learned which was a learned a lesson from YouTube was how important it was to actually separate from if you are considering building social sites how important was to separate the community team from the trust and safety team
because community teams role is generally a more public facing like Hey I’m fluffy bunny like let me help you grow your community on Reddit let me help you grow r/slash beards or or to to make the kind of to facilitate the kind of magic stuff that happens when you have hundreds of thousands of
At scale so they have an identity I thought the trust and safety team it’s really important to not have them having identities that it comes specifically from red ink that makes enforcement much more straight forward because then when the person who is getting you know if the enforcement is getting the punishment are they see coming from Reddit inc they don’t see it coming from an individual even fluffy bunny seventy two so there’s no real recourse
%HESITATION it gives the trust and safety team the ability to do the job they need to do and separates it out from the community team which does the job they need to do and this is something that YouTube had a lot of success with many years before us since we just all the playbook from them %HESITATION everything is a everything’s a remix
Q.11: Andorand_too: Ann Durand underscore — Did the website you made for people for money look is bad as historic Reddit
A. be clear and Ann Durand underscore two I did not make them for money if these were non profits so I was just doing them for pride like I had on my resume %HESITATION they were pretty bad though %HESITATION I found if you go if you could probably dig up that the nonprofit — there wasn’t was like 501c3 — called — free the bird dot org and I’m hoping the Wayback machine doesn’t still have it, now that I’ve said out loud but you got it like he had a giant image map on the side in this was like two thousand
I took no ninety nine — was I mean it was took forever to load now like no it’s got a beautiful picture it but I didn’t I was everything was in tables no divs like it was bad so where the websites I made that as bad as Reddit, yes they were but the good news is most websites back then were pretty ugly that was your Facebook two thousand four okay we just didn’t update and %HESITATION I drew the mascot which looks nice I think we can agree snew looks okay okay good keep my job another week with yet another estimate terrible designer — verdana, that’s a hideous font. Don’t know what I was thinking. Font nerds know I’m talking about. No one in their right mind is like verdana is a good font.
Q 12 totally not union:: has read it considered implementing live video like the other social media sites have
A. well anonymous we’ve talked about it the problem with live video is that most of the content is just not interest so like live use really interesting if it’s a unique event right it’s a it’s an E. sports match or any sports match or words are like a cultural moment — right like someone is there’s a state of the union or there’s a thing like this something going on there
but there just isn’t there isn’t enough to really sort the signal from the noise for most Iive video and what ends up being shared are like clips of live video and so we’re thinking alright we have limited band with one of the things we need to focus on four Reddit for the next year live videos just not anywhere on the top list I think it’s really interesting that the stuff is happening and I’m I’m obviously friends with a twitch founders because we went through YCombinator together I think they’re doing some really interesting stuff going beyond e sports It’s still yet to be seen like even though you know the I think that signal/ noise differences there is gonna be the thing to crack if someone can figure out how to make that experience really great so whenever you’re tuning in to whatever that app is you know it’s a pretty good certainty that at that moment in time maybe it’s not even live maybe it’s quasi live but that moment there something good there
Q. #13 anonymous: How may read accounts do I have totally
A. Totally not unidan — and I hope it’s you unidan — we were at the university being together we had a good time %HESITATION I have
sure I probably made hundreds over the years but I really only have one and I occasionally have another call post under — yeah it’s like it’s really just one active case come I’m paranoid I wouldn’t wanna — like — one and a half but I rarely posting alone and there’s a bunch other ones because we created read it we didn’t have any users of Stephen I just posted under different user names so the front page looked like it was full of submissions we have comments so it’s not like I was like great comment Alexis it wasn’t that bad but like I would submit a New York Times article as purple turtle and then I would spend another article is me in another exit if you came to it for the first time again remember two thousand five
ever just thought read it was an ugly blog back then than people realized okay there’s like all these contributors anyone can submit and and sort of grease the wheels army that after a few weeks we don’t have to do anymore
Q. 14 anonymous: Taco’s or Ribs
A. Oh man, i’m going to get into so much trouble for saying this but its ribs I I love tacos and I know I nor am I see god this is a tough issue talk or barbecue town your spoiled %HESITATION yes it deftly rose. Bay is all about about tacos.
Q.#15 anonymous: what’s the biggest failure life that changed how you do things positively/
A.Wow, when I think of giant sales setback it would be getting rejected from YCombinator — %HESITATION that was the one that was the most pivotal one because Steven I were working on a whole different company I was gonna I was like oh five new smartphones will be new phones were thing so you could text in your order was the plan using the call my mobile menu. And you could never wait in line again and it’s gonna change everything unfortunately the folks why YCombinator were smarter than us or fortune I should say they’re smarter than us and said no no it’s too early for this don’t do it they rejected us and then they’re they’re like the early stage incubator that made Airbnb, Dropbox and die and they called back the next morning it was Paul does a hello he was like Alexis we still hate your idea — I was like really you called just to say that like were hung over on the way back to Virginia and is it gonna know now we like you to come up with another idea and will invest. Whatever it is yeah sure sucker — and and we %HESITATION we’re like alright and we made them and read it was basically it %HESITATION they give us a check for twelve grand and said : “Alright go make that” good luck and it change our lives — so thanks Paul and Jessica.
alright one more question
Q.#16 anonymous: one existing features you’re going that can bring people out of their existing groups how might we use Reddit’s gets… alright: anonymous what new features are you building that can bring people out of their existing groups how might we use ready to get the two Americas in the same conversation.
A. automatically subscribed to r/slash change my view, One of the primary things we’re looking at right now is front page relevance and so we want to be really smart about making sure that when you’re reaching for your phone and you’ve got five minutes to catch before the bus shows up you open the Reddit app and you find something that is stimulating that is engaging and what’s interesting is this kind of content is actually really really engaging for a lot of people and and now I think there’s an opportunity for us depending on how we sort of message it to a new user to actually really get them thinking and looking forward to an expecting this type of content %HESITATION we’ve only started don’t we do a ton of AB testing now we’ve only started testing a lot of the stuff — so it’s still in its infancy arm but a lot of this comes down to that. And I think also just the combination of that with just better marketing we don’t actually have a marketing team at Reddit so our sales in our com’s teams do double duty effectively marketing Reddit and all the things on it and so we wanna get communities like change my view — there are just some amazing was on there — into bigger venues. On to television in partnerships with media organizations so that people can see this great content realize it’s there and see that there’s another way to even you know challenge their own views.