Reddit CEO doubles down on assault 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 as we speak 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 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 incorporates a site-wide protest from 1000’s 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, “habits and communications” as being “far and wide” 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, beneath the brand new phrases, it could price him $20 million per yr 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 a number of.

However Huffman seemingly has an ax to grind with Selig specifically, first accusing the developer of extortion, per Selig’s intensive publish on the state of affairs 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 alter its API phrases to place third-party apps out of enterprise moderately than simply shopping for them out, as the corporate did with Alien Blue (an older Reddit shopper that it acquired in 2014). He stated that if Apollo was costing Reddit $20 million per yr, Reddit ought to minimize him a verify to place an finish to the app. The comment doesn’t sound like a severe ask from his telling. In reality, he clarified on the decision, “…that is principally a joke.”

If something, it comes throughout as a way of making an attempt to grasp why the corporate would make a transfer that’s certain to generate sick 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 based mostly 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 as we speak.

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 moderately plainly.

“His ‘joke’ is the least of our points,” the CEO wrote. “His habits and communications with us has been far and wide—saying one factor to us whereas saying one thing fully completely different externally; recording and leaking a non-public cellphone name—to the purpose the place I don’t understand how we may 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 stated Reddit administration was mendacity, slandering, and vilifying him. Others quote-tweeted and agreed.

Until 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 adjustments. These ranged from these questioning the mannequin (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 income than group engagement. (“We’ll proceed to be profit-driven till income 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 are going to proceed speaking. We acknowledge that the timeline we gave was tight; we’re completely satisfied to interact with people who wish to work with us.”

Within the feedback, 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 adjustments and had been ignored. One other indie app developer stated they’d crammed 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 acknowledged.

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

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

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

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