Reddit CEO Steve Huffman just kicked off his promised AMA over the platform’s controversial API changes, but based on the tone of his initial message and some replies, it doesn’t seem like Reddit will be budging on potentially expensive API updates that have caused multiple developers to announce they will be shutting down their apps.
“On 4/18, we shared that we would update access to the API, including premium access for third parties who require additional capabilities and higher usage limits,” Huffman, who goes by u/spez on Reddit, wrote in the initial post for his AMA. “Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use.”
Huffman also responded to a Redditor asking about Christian Selig’s claim that Huffman told Reddit moderators the Apollo developer “threatened us” in an attempt to get Reddit to give him $10 million without entirely denying or confirming it. “His ‘joke’ is the least of our issues,” Huffman said. “His behavior and communications with us has been all over the place—saying one thing to us while saying something completely different externally; recording and leaking a private phone call—to the point where I don’t know how we could do business with him.” Selig, in a reply, asked Huffman to “give examples where I said something differently in public versus what I said to you.”
Over the past two weeks, Redditors have been outraged about the changes after Selig said Reddit might end up charging him $20 million per year. A few days after, major Reddit communities — including some of the most followed on the platform — announced that they would be going dark from June 12th to June 14th to protest the threat to third-party apps.
Reddit has given some small concessions: the r/Blind subreddit protested the changes because they could mean that accessibility-focused apps necessary to browse the site would have to shut down, and on June 7th, Reddit said those apps would be exempt from the pricing updates. During the AMA, Huffman also committed to making the official Reddit apps “more accessible.”
But the API changes have otherwise remained in place for the vast majority of developers, with Selig and others, including the makers of rif is fun for Reddit and ReddPlanet for Reddit, announcing they would be shutting down their apps on June 30th.
In his AMA, Huffman seemed to shut the door on making amends with the apps that are closing their doors. “Some apps such as Apollo, Reddit is Fun, and Sync have decided this pricing doesn’t work for their businesses and will close before pricing goes into effect,” Huffman said. “For the other apps, we will continue talking. We acknowledge that the timeline we gave was tight; we are happy to engage with folks who want to work with us.”
Based on what I’ve heard, that last sentence doesn’t ring entirely true; Tony Lupeski, the developer of ReddPlanet, tells me that he has tried to contact Reddit three times since the initial announcement of changes but has been “ignored every time.” And a Redditor asked if it would be possible for the company to delay the API pricing by 90 days, to which Huffman responded, “We’re continuing to work with folks who want to work with us. For what it’s worth, this includes many of the apps that haven’t been taking the spotlight this week.”
One Redditor asked why Reddit will no longer let explicit / NSFW content appear in third-party apps — a restriction that rif is fun for Reddit noted as one of the reasons it would be shutting down. “It’s a constant fight to keep this content at all,” Huffman wrote. “We are going to keep it. But the regulatory environment has gotten much stricter about adult content, and as a result we have to be strict / conservative about where it shows up.”
Another Redditor asked how Huffman would address concerns that Reddit has become increasingly profit-driven. “We’ll continue to be profit-driven until profits arrive,” Huffman wrote. “Unlike some of the [third-party] apps, we are not profitable.”
The AMA is currently ongoing, and we plan to update this post as it goes on.