Snoop Dogg, Jared Leto join $50m Reddit funding round

Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen also among those joining funding round

Snoop Dogg is one of a number of investors who have joined the $50m funding round for Reddit

Snoop Dogg is one of a number of investors who have joined the $50m funding round for Reddit

 

Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen and the Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto have joined a $50m funding round for Reddit, the online discussion forum.

The fundraising for the site, which describes itself as “front page of the internet”, was led by Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, the start-up incubator that helped launch Reddit in 2004. Other investors included Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

Reddit’s 133 million monthly users have become a potent force on the social web, voting content up or down on threads that can drive significant traffic to digital media publishers. This democratic approach is kept only lightly in check by volunteer editors, and the site has recently been criticised for its role in circulating leaked nude photos of celebrities.

But even as its audience has grown, the site has retained a stripped-down, early internet look and has eschewed the traditional advertising revenue model that supports most free sites, a move seen as reflecting caution over alienating Reddit readers.

That stands in contrast to other digital properties, such as BuzzFeed, which recently raised $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz, and is betting heavily on investments in native and video advertising.

Reddit has operated as an independent company since it was spun off by Advance Publications, the parent of magazine publisher Condé Nast, in 2011. Privately held Advance still holds a stake in Reddit.

The website Recode reported the funding round valued the company at about $500million. Reddit declined to comment on its valuation and Advance could not be reached for comment.

“Reddit is an example of something that started out looking like a silly toy for wasting time and has become something very interesting,” said Mr Altman in a blog post about his investment.

Yishan Wong, Reddit chief executive, said on Tuesday that the new funding would be spent on hiring more staff and expanding mobile and advertising products.

Earlier in September, Reddit launched a mobile app for its popular “Ask Me Anything” interviews to develop a stronger mobile presence and to capitalise on its high volume of traffic. The “AMA” features, where celebrities and average people field all manner of questions from readers, have drawn participation from US president Barack Obama, Sir David Attenborough, Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg and, on Tuesday, Mr Altman.

Last year, Reddit hired Ellen Pao, a former employee of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, to help develop its business. It framed her role as “helping us build strategic partnerships that benefit the community”.

The community also featured prominently in Tuesday’s funding announcement: the investors plan to give 10 per cent of their shares to “Redditors”. Mr Wong said Reddit is thinking of creating a cryptocurrency backed by the shares that would be distributed to the community.

“Caveat: keep in mind that this plan could totally fail,” he wrote on a Reddit forum about the funding.

Financial Times