Reddit CEO doubles down on assault on Apollo developer in drama-filled AMA


Reddit’s unpopular choice to revise its API pricing in a transfer that’s forcing third-party apps out of enterprise has taken a bizarre flip. In an AMA hosted today by Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman, aka u/spez on the web discussion board web site, the exec doubled down on accusations in opposition to the developer behind the favored third-party app Apollo, which the corporate had beforehand accused of working inefficiently and never being a superb “API” consumer.

Regardless of group backlash — which features a site-wide protest from 1000’s of communities referred to as subreddits — Huffman’s AMA confirmed the corporate has no plans to revise its coming API modifications. What’s extra, Huffman continued his accusations in opposition to Apollo, calling out the developer, Christian Selig’s, “habits and communications” as being “everywhere” and saying he couldn’t see Reddit working with the developer additional.

Selig had been among the many first to spotlight that Reddit’s new API pricing would successfully make it unimaginable to proceed to function the Apollo app. He defined that, below the brand new phrases, it will price him $20 million per 12 months to take action — cash the app doesn’t make. This week, Selig introduced the app’s final day could be June 30, forward of the July 1 implementation of the brand new API pricing.

Different third-party apps are additionally closing down, together with Sync, RIF and Reddplant, to call just a few.

However Huffman seemingly has an ax to grind with Selig particularly, first accusing the developer of extortion, per Selig’s extensive post on the situation between himself and Reddit.

In response to Selig’s interpretation of the state of affairs, he raised the query as to why Reddit was selecting to alter its API phrases to place third-party apps out of enterprise slightly than simply shopping for them out, as the corporate did with Alien Blue (an older Reddit consumer that it acquired in 2014). He stated that if Apollo was costing Reddit $20 million per 12 months, Reddit ought to lower him a test to place an finish to the app. The comment doesn’t sound like a critical ask from his telling. In reality, he clarified on the decision, “…that is largely a joke.”

If something, it comes throughout as a way of making an attempt to know why the corporate would make a transfer that’s certain to generate in poor health will amongst its wider group. (Because it has.)

A Reddit consultant on a name with Selig, nonetheless, first seemingly interpreted his remark as a “risk,” Selig stated. However on the decision, they cleared up the misunderstanding and the contact apologized. Selig got here with receipts — he recorded the decision (which is authorized the place he’s primarily based in Canada).

However in a subsequent name with moderators, Huffman referred to this dialog as Selig “threatening” Reddit.

That stance hasn’t softened on Reddit’s aspect, Huffman made clear at present.

Within the AMA, one consumer requested Huffman to make clear, “what had been you considering along with your try and discredit Apollo by claiming that Christian threatened and blackmailed you?”

The response was stunning. In contrast to most corporations, which attempt to soften their blows behind company PR communicate, Huffman answered slightly plainly.

“His ‘joke’ is the least of our points,” the CEO wrote. “His habits and communications with us has been everywhere—saying one factor to us whereas saying one thing utterly completely different externally; recording and leaking a personal cellphone name—to the purpose the place I don’t understand how we might do enterprise with him.”

It’s an odd flip of occasions for Apollo, whose iOS-first and user-friendly design simply this week noticed it featured throughout Apple’s Worldwide Developer Convention, forward of Reddit’s API coverage change that can now put it out of enterprise.

Different outstanding builders have come out in assist of Selig following this debacle.

Halide co-founder Sebastiaan de With tweeted on Thursday calling Selig “one of many nicest guys in our indie app world,” and stated Reddit administration was mendacity, slandering, and vilifying him. Others quote-tweeted and agreed.

Except Reddit’s board chooses to intervene, it doesn’t appear that Huffman is worried a lot concerning the fallout from these choices, site-wide protest or not.

Within the AMA, he fended off quite a few questions, politely phrased and never, from customers upset over the API modifications. These ranged from these questioning the model (why not a profit-sharing mannequin like Epic does with Unreal?) and asking concerning the compressed timeframe to broader questions on Reddit’s shift to being extra about earnings than group engagement. (“We’ll proceed to be profit-driven till earnings arrive,” the CEO replied. “In contrast to a number of the 3P apps, we aren’t worthwhile.”)

“Some apps, like Apollo, Reddit is Enjoyable and Sync have determined this [API] pricing doesn’t work for his or her companies and can shut earlier than pricing goes into impact,” Huffman defined. “For the opposite apps, we’ll proceed speaking. We acknowledge that the timeline we gave was tight; we’re completely happy to have interaction with of us who need to work with us.”

Within the comments, although, ReddPlanet’s developer (u/lupeski, aka Tony Lupeski) stated “this can be a blatant lie,” noting that he had tried a number of occasions to get involved with Reddit relating to these modifications and had been ignored. One other indie app developer said they’d crammed out a request for Enterprise API entry thrice and had obtained no response.

As for the remainder of the AMA, there’s little extra to report past what Reddit had already shared. The corporate is seemingly unmoved by the group backlash over its API modifications and has no intention to delay or rethink. It should nonetheless preserve its carve-out for a handful of accessibility-focused apps, as said.

Huffman additionally clarified that whereas The NYT piece positioned the API pricing modifications as a technique to restrict entry to its boards, which have change into a coaching floor for big language fashions (LLMs), that’s not the one motive behind this transfer. The corporate can also be spending “tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars}” per 12 months to assist the third-party app ecosystem, and that wanted to be reigned in. (And it’s in “energetic dialogue” with corporations utilizing Reddit as coaching information for his or her AIs).

The exec moreover famous that entry to mature content material shall be restricted by way of its Knowledge API as of July 5, 2023, as a part of a broader effort to offer extra guardrails below a “stricter” regulatory atmosphere, however express content material was nonetheless being allowed.

An outline of the AMA in a extra readable format is available on r/Save3rdPartyApps, a group that sprung up for the reason that API modifications had been introduced. The discussion board now has over 50,000 members.


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