Martin agreed. “The process didn’t allow for [what Reddit needed], that was the main tension. [Condé’s] process is set up for sales cycles that take longer and there’s more sort of time for that kind of vetting and decision-making. But most of the Condé brands have more people on the sales side than we have total employees.”
Reddit hired its first-ever CEO in March 2012, an ex-Pay Pal and Facebook engineer named Yishan Wong. Now, Reddit is a subsidiary of Advance, separate from Condé, and reports to a board populated with executives from both Condé and Advance, along with Ohanian. “We’ve been working with Advance Publications to complete [R]eddit’s spinoff,” Wong wrote in a triumphant blog post on Reddit, “[including] a revamped capital structure that will allow Reddit to manage its own finances and operations.”
“The way that the site works,” said Kevin Morris, a staff writer at the Daily Dot, in a recent PBS segment about Reddit, “[is that] it tends to attract people who want to know the truth.” In January 2012, the Reddit community’s large-scale vocalization of their opposition to SOPA and PIPA, coupled with support from equally passionate communities on Tumblr and Wikipedia, eventually persuaded lawmakers to table the legislation. Reddit, an online community that had only been around for six years, had successfully helped to defeat the American government.
In April 2012, much to his surprise, Martin was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. For the event, Martin donned a tuxedo for only the second time ever—the first being a friend’s wedding—and completed the outfit with a shiny pair of Reddit cuff links.
“It was very surreal,” he confided a few weeks after the event. “I’ve never been to something like that. I got to meet Ralph Nader, who is adorable. He asked about Reddit and I explained it to him, but I don’t know if I was successful.”
Martin is unfailingly humble about his contributions to Reddit. “Any credit I would get,” he said, “would be for not fucking it up.”
“At Reddit, he doesn’t say, ‘Hey, check me out,’’’ explained Nils Olsen, an old friend of Martin’s. “He says, ‘Hey, check you out.’”
“He can be very humble,” agreed Donlin. “That humbleness has also been what’s made him so successful.”
Martin will be moving back to New York in July to focus on the business and media aspects of the site and to run the New York office.
As for that Time 100 award, it doesn’t appear to have gone to his head.
“Ralph Nader went to give me his business card and he said, ‘Well, I kind of ran out of my current cards, but I grabbed this stack of cards from the 1970s.’ All it had was a P.O. box. It didn’t have a phone number, so he scribbled it on the back,” he said.
“I was like aaahhhh, I am framing this! It was amazing.”
That sounded like an upvote.
First published in The New York Observer.