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


Reddit’s unpopular resolution 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 website, the exec doubled down on accusations in opposition to the developer behind the popular third-party app Apollo, which the corporate had beforehand accused of working inefficiently and never being a very good “API” consumer.

Regardless of group backlash — which features a site-wide protest from hundreds of communities often known as subreddits — Huffman’s AMA confirmed the corporate has no plans to revise its coming API adjustments. What’s extra, Huffman continued his accusations in opposition to Apollo, calling out the developer, Christian Selig’s, “conduct 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 focus on that Reddit’s new API pricing would successfully make it inconceivable to proceed to function the Apollo app. He defined that, beneath the brand new phrases, it might value him $20 million per 12 months to take action — cash the app doesn’t make. This week, Selig introduced the app’s final day can 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 accordance with Selig’s interpretation of the state of affairs, he raised the query as to why Reddit was selecting to vary its API phrases to place third-party apps out of enterprise quite than simply shopping for them out, as the corporate did with Alien Blue (an older Reddit consumer that it acquired in 2014). He mentioned that if Apollo was costing Reddit $20 million per 12 months, Reddit ought to reduce him a test to place an finish to the app. The comment doesn’t sound like a severe ask from his telling. The truth is, he clarified on the decision, “…that is largely a joke.”

If something, it comes throughout as a way of attempting to grasp why the corporate would make a transfer that’s positive to generate unwell will amongst its wider group. (Because it has.)

A Reddit consultant on a name with Selig, nevertheless, first seemingly interpreted his remark as a “menace,” Selig mentioned. 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 facet, Huffman made clear at this time.

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

The response was shocking. Not like most corporations, which attempt to soften their blows behind company PR communicate, Huffman answered quite plainly.

“His ‘joke’ is the least of our points,” the CEO wrote. “His conduct and communications with us has been everywhere—saying one factor to us whereas saying one thing fully completely different externally; recording and leaking a non-public telephone name—to the purpose the place I don’t know the way 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 help 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 mentioned 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 various questions, politely phrased and never, from customers upset over the API adjustments. 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. “Not like a few 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 are going to proceed speaking. We acknowledge that the timeline we gave was tight; we’re joyful to interact with people who wish to work with us.”

Within the comments, although, ReddPlanet’s developer (u/lupeski, aka Tony Lupeski) mentioned “it is a blatant lie,” noting that he had tried a number of instances to get in touch with Reddit concerning these adjustments and had been ignored. One other indie app developer said they’d stuffed out a request for Enterprise API entry 3 times 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 adjustments and has no intention to delay or rethink. It’ll 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 adjustments as a solution to restrict entry to its boards, which have turn into a coaching floor for giant 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 help the third-party app ecosystem, and that wanted to be reigned in. (And it’s in “lively dialogue” with corporations utilizing Reddit as coaching information for his or her AIs).

The exec moreover famous that entry to mature content material might be restricted by way of its Information API as of July 5, 2023, as a part of a broader effort to offer extra guardrails beneath a “stricter” regulatory atmosphere, however specific 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 adjustments have been introduced. The discussion board now has over 50,000 members.


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