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This week, Travis and Stewart interview Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of the “front page of the internet” — also known as Reddit. The second in our Web Summit series, this episode was recorded the morning of the U.S. Presidential Election results, which made for some interesting discussion around communities, influence, and Reddit’s role in that process. (This topic has since become quite the discussion point.)

In the news segment, we discuss what has happened at Reddit since our interview, reveal Facebook’s new dynamic ads for app installs, and revisit the time we predicted what was going wrong at Pebble, which shut down this week.


By listening to this episode of the VB Engage podcast, you will hear:

  • Welcome to VB Engage episode 32! [00:10]
  • Travis is in Atlanta, fresh from his speech on stage at the FlipMyFunnel Conference [00:45]
  • We continue our WebSummit interview series this week with Alexis Ohanian [01:35]
  • Facebook is still the place to go if you want paid installs for your app [02:15]
  • Dynamic Product Ads are getting an upgrade on Facebook. [3:20]
  • Retailers, restaurants, and other ecommerce apps will get a boost [04:00]
  • Everyone is looking for “whales,” and Facebook’s data can identify them [04:55]
  • Instagram advertising is getting more powerful [05:45]
  • It’s the perfect time for this, with Christmas only 12 days away [07:50]
  • Reddit had a particular influence on this year’s U.S. election [08:45]
  • When we interviewed Alexis Ohanian, it was the morning after the election [09:20]
  • During the election, Travis was paying attention to /r/The_Donald subreddit [10:05]
  • Reddit CEO edited some posts on /r/The_Donald [11:00]
  • Controversy around the subreddit due to its popularity [13:25]
  • It’s tough to corral a community when it’s been a free-for-all for 10+ years [14:15]
  • Final piece of news — Pebble was acquired by Fitbit [15:30]
  • Stewart pats himself on the back so hard he may have injured his shoulder [17:45]
  • Travis introduces Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit, at WebSummit [18:35]
  • 250 million visitors on Reddit in October [19:10]
  • Most of the site’s traffic has been on mobile [19:50]
  • Back in the beginning, there was one community subreddit [20:10]
  • The first startup idea before Reddit was MMM (My Mobile Menu), in 2005 [20:45]
  • Paul Graham hadn’t launched Y Combinator yet — he encouraged them to pivot [21:35]
  • Paul coined “The Front Page of the Internet” and funded Reddit to the tune of $12,000 [22:05]
  • Reddit’s consistent growth over the past 11 years [22:30]
  • Travis asks Alexis about the impact of Reddit on the political process [22:55]
  • Reddit didn’t have a data team until early 2016 [24:15]
  • About one third of the U.S. internet population visit Reddit each month [24:30]
  • r/SandersForPresident subreddit raised $2.8 million for Sanders’ campaign [25:25]
  • r/The_Donald is one of the most-engaged communities on Reddit [26:40]
  • Mobile has helped a lot with the onboarding of new users [27:35]
  • As a marketer, you can use your gut shot, but you need the data to back it up [28:45]
  • As a startup founder, don’t stick to the “gut strategy” too long [29:00]
  • Reddit has never sent an email notification [29:25]
  • They got the core product right, but it didn’t evolve for over five years [30:30]
  • Reddit ran its first A/B split test in 2016 — it was around engagement and relevance [31:15]
  • The day Pokemon Go launched, the subreddit was top 5 on Google search [31:45]
  • The communities have built up this great wiki of subject curation [33:05]
  • You have to have a great onboarding experience for your visitors [34:05]
  • If anyone has questions, private message Alexis on Reddit /u/kn0thing [35:00]

As always, thank you for tuning in this week. We appreciate you. Stewart appreciates you more than Travis, though.

See you next week with Episode 33, as we continue our Web Summit interview series with the founder of WebSummit himself, Paddy Cosgrave. If you missed last week’s episode with Alan Schaaf, CEO of Imgur, you can listen to it right here.


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