reddit: an investment guide?

This is not an investment blog and I while I may pass as a "startup guy," I'm by no means a capable guide for investing. That said, I recently noticed an unexpected benefit from having read reddit on a daily basis since its inception.

My only goal for investing is to not screw myself. If I've accomplished that, I'm happy. At some point last year, 'my guy' told me he was looking into some options for a remaining chunk of my portfolio. But he was having trouble, since I'd blacklisted a number of companies.

He was running through some suggestions and suddenly "gold" popped into my head. I'd been reading the "U.S. RECESSION!!!" headlines on reddit for quite a while, so it made sense to invest in something with some inherent worth. Everyone loves bling-bling, especially Ron Paul.

So I bought into iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU) at $67.17 a share.

Today, it's right around $89 (for about a 33% gain). Who knows where it'll go from here, but for the time being, "Thanks, reddit!"

to all the super-haters

Quite a few redditors went out of their way to point out that they weren't watching the Super Bowl, but our traffic logs reveal an interesting dip in traffic. Kudos to Chris for noticing it.

Some of us were multi-tasking, but quite a few redditors left their monitors to watch the game after all. I suspect the calls from the living room convinced a number of even the most steadfast redditors to catch the drama of the 4th quarter.
(time in EST)

q&a on reddit, YC, and the future of news

Lerone Wilson, director of the Real World: Geek Edition also known as Aardvark'd, did a bit of Q&A with me for his journalism grad school thesis. He's writing on how the internet is affecting the dissemination of news. I'm not sure how much of this will end up in his final paper, but I'm certain few of you would ever get to read it. So in case you're interested, he gave me permission to publish it.

What has it been like seeing Reddit become so successful, so fast?

Well, it's obviously been quite satisfying, which I think is indicative of how much demand there was (and still is) for improvements to the way we consume news. Or more broadly speaking, the way we learn about what's new in our world.

Did you ever envision yourself accomplishing what you did, so quickly?

Perhaps -- any startup founder has to be a little delusional -- but I also once envisioned myself as an astronaut landing on Mars, so I wouldn't give it much credence.

In retrospect, what was the value of YCombinator? Would Reddit have been possible without their assistance?

reddit would have been possible, but it would have been much more difficult. In fact, it probably would have a very different community and thus be a very different site. We benefited quite a bit by having so many of our early users be thoughtful and well-educated readers of someone like Paul Graham.

If it weren't for YCombinator, we'd also never have met someone like Chris Slowe, who's been as good of a friend to Steve and me as he's been a valuable asset to reddit.

Are you surprised at how much time people spend reading/posting on Reddit?

Considering the amount of time I know we spend reading/posting on reddit, no.

For a lot of people, sites like Reddit and Digg are their primary sources of news. Do you see this trend growing? What are your thoughts on the future of news sites - should editors be uneasy about job security?

As a business-guy, I certainly hope this trend continues to grow. As a citizen, I hope people still complement reddit with alternate sources of news.

News sites are going to evolve. I believe the greatest strength of a site like reddit is the brand agnosticism. By that I mean the value of a news source is no longer the brand "New York Times," but the content itself. A link will do well on reddit based on its own merit -- no one evaluates the brand. And why should CNN be everyone's source for a news event in SmallTown, USA when there's a local newspaper there that will offer a much better perspective?

This just means the gray lady can't keep getting by on her reputation, but she's got newsrooms full of talented journalists (who've always been the most valuable asset in the company) who should see this as a great opportunity.

Editors needn't start updating their resumes anytime soon, as sites like reddit have a symbiotic relationship with traditional news sources -- a significant percentage of our content comes from them and I suspect they're happy to receive all the pageviews.

reddit does what news sources have always done -- give readers the stories they want to read (it's a business, after all) -- we just do it much more efficiently.

*edit: While I believe the vast majority of news sources are run like profit-driven businesses (because they are businesses), I wish it weren't the case. I believe there's an obvious reason why some of the best news sources (e.g., The Guardian and PBS) aren't for-profit enterprises.

super bowl, super raspberry-turtle

Granted, plenty of redditors were obviously not watching it, but we actually did see a dip in traffic thanks to this U.S. holy day. All of team reddit was watching, half of us with laptops, but watching nonetheless. What was predicted to be a landslide turned out to be a fantastic upset and four quarters of great football.
I've had a tradition of making the following Monday's logo celebrate the victorious team (and every year I keep getting told the Vince Lombardi Trophy looks too phallic) but this year I found my inbox full of requests for a raspberry turtle logo (you have to see the photo). I think I'm going to cave and do that one tomorrow. The tiny turtle/raspberry combination is too cute to pass up -- it combines two of my favorite foods.

Just kidding!

(Well, not entirely, I do like raspberries. And there's usually more turtle to eat when they're a bit older.)

Oh, and did anyone else notice the number of dot-com ads? Jeremy pointed this out right around the second SalesGenie ad. This bodes very well for 2008...

mediocre marketing: how not to cold email someone

A friend of mine from Boston, Dharmesh, recently wrote on how not to describe your startup. He runs a popular website called OnStartups; I won't give you any hints as to what it's about, but it remains one of my favorite examples of how a site like reddit provides a global stage for good content to be discovered. I still remember when his entries first started appearing on reddit, then they became a regular occurrence (not unlike our pals at XKCD). I love knowing that reddit had even a small part in their success.

But back to the matter at hand, bad "cold emailing" (the cold call 2.0?).

Granted, this startup was automatically at a disadvantage by being yet another social networking site, but this mass email didn't help their cause (formatting preserved for authenticity, names and URLs replaced out of compassion):


An amazing new Social Network is coming..... But this one has a BIG difference. It's going to PAY YOU to play Games Online... (fun skill games..not gambling games!) PAY YOU to introduce others via MLM and PAY YOU passively when a game is played by anybody in your downline...even whilst you sleep! Payment will also be INSTANT!!! weSpam is coming in January 2008.

You can pre-register for FREE TODAY before it actually launches, securing your place before the expected hundreds of thousands of people join. See my site at

The brand weSpam is predicted to be as big as Facebook and Myspace

If YOU register for FREE via this email, I'll try my VERY best to let you participate in the advance beta testing of the games, see for yourself whats taking the world by storm.You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain! This is THE road to financial freedom as weSpam features THE MOST EXCITING payplan in MLM history! You'll be amazed. It's going to be FUN, AMAZING and VERY PROFITABLE!

For your FREE promotional website and MUCH more information, simply go to Don't delay...It takes only 20 seconds!

Thanks for your time

I wish I could be as constructive as Dharmesh and suggest some improvements, but I don't know where to begin. Your thoughts?

missed australia day, this joey will make up for it

A redditor had suggest a couple weeks ago that I remember to do a logo for Australia Day. I put it in my calendar and everything. But the 26th of January came and went. No special reddit logo.

I feel bad for three reasons: the obvious one being that I'd told this redditor I'd do it; the second because I'd recently visited and wanted to doodle a brilliant homage to this magic land; and finally because it's such a wasted opportunity when a reddit logo idea so easily presents itself.

Oh well, now I'm going to have to make up for it next year with an even grander logo to "celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian."

The last thing I want is a nation of convicts to be pissed at me ;-)

Just to smooth things over, here's an adorable joey! (found via OMG Babies!)

bobblehead on the loose

After the kidnapping of our prototype bobblehead (followed by its dramatic return) we knew we'd better start producing more of them.

An army of bobbleheads has since landed in NY and one has apparently made its way to Tamar Weinberg (schwag addict). It got the rather positive review of "super awesome." Almost as good as the last Gamespot review I read.*
(Hopefully I won't get goatse'd for ganking the img)

*Just kidding! I don't read Gamespot. Does anyone?

python valentine - a program for your day

I couldn't help but follow up with another unValentine card. The novel part about this card is that it can apply to anyone on Valentine's Day -- single, dating, married, whatever. It's written in Python, thanks to some help from Chris Slowe who made it not look like some crappy Pascal that never would have compiled.

The Python Valentine is perfect for any and all geeks in your life, except for Java programmers. Oh, and half the profits of all unHoliday Cards still go to fight pediatric cancer -- bonus feel-good feeling!
#!/usr/bin/env pythonfrom relationships import *from alcohol import shot, beerdef valentines_day(self):    if        if == 0:   = False        elif self.num_prev_dates == 0:   -= dinner()   -= pointless_gift()        else:   -= dinner()/sqrt(self.num_prev_dates)            if randInt(self.num_prev_dates):       -= pointless_gift()/self.num_prev_dates    elif self.married:        if self.years_married < 5:    -= dinner()/(self.years_married ** 2)        else:             pass    else:        while self.blood_alcohol < .08:            self.blood_alcohol += beer()        while self.blood_alcohol < .22:            self.blood_alcohol += shot()        sleep(86400)
Paul Graham is still giving us hell for not writing it in Lisp.