The Inside Story of Reddit's Creation and Sequoia's Newsletter: Creating a Better Future Together

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Sep 14, 2023

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The Inside Story of Reddit's Creation and Sequoia's Newsletter: Creating a Better Future Together

The creation of Reddit can be traced back to the combined ideas of two popular sites at the time - Delicious and Slashdot. Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, the founders of Reddit, wanted to take the concept of social bookmarking from Delicious and the large geek community focused on news and ideas from Slashdot, and merge them into something new and exciting.

Their journey took a significant turn when they joined Y Combinator (YC), a well-known startup accelerator. At YC, Ohanian and Huffman dedicated themselves to working day and night on the first version of Reddit. Little did they know that Paul Graham, the co-founder of YC, would link to their creation in a blog post, bringing in the site's first thousand visitors. This initial boost set the stage for Reddit's future success.

It is worth mentioning that the early days of Reddit involved the use of fake users and generated content. However, this strategy was not sustainable, and Ohanian and Huffman quickly pivoted away from it. They understood that genuine engagement and authentic contributions were essential for Reddit's growth and credibility.

In a seemingly unrelated but equally fascinating story, Sequoia, a renowned venture capital firm, emphasizes the importance of envisioning a better future. Their newsletter encourages readers to approach meetings with a positive outlook on what a company can become. By asking questions such as "What type of future is this team creating?" and "What type of future do I want to live in?", one can gain a clearer perspective on the potential impact of a business.

Sequoia also stresses the significance of timing in seizing opportunities. They urge entrepreneurs to consider why now is the right time for a particular venture. What has changed in the market or ecosystem that uniquely enables this opportunity today? This question prompts critical thinking about the technological advancements, social shifts, or cultural changes that can act as enablers for success.

In the world of technology, consumers often exhibit a paradoxical nature. They are both neophilic, seeking out new experiences, and neophobic, afraid of anything that is too new. This insight provides valuable guidance for entrepreneurs and creators. The most successful innovators are those who can architect familiar surprises - combining elements of novelty with familiarity, and balancing the consumer's desire for newness with their need for comfort and understanding.

Bringing these two stories together, we can draw actionable advice for those looking to create a better future through their ventures:

  • 1. Foster genuine engagement and authentic contributions: Just as Reddit pivoted away from fake users and content, it is crucial to prioritize real interactions and contributions. Encourage your users or customers to participate actively and share their authentic experiences, ideas, and feedback.
  • 2. Embrace the power of timing: Consider the market and ecosystem factors that uniquely enable your opportunity today. Identify the key enablers and leverage them to propel your venture forward. Timing can be a significant determinant of success.
  • 3. Architect familiar surprises: Strive to strike a balance between novelty and familiarity in your product or service. Understand the neophilic and neophobic tendencies of consumers and create moments of meaning by offering something new while also providing a sense of comfort and understanding.

In conclusion, the creation of Reddit and the insights shared by Sequoia's newsletter offer valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and creators. By combining innovative concepts, embracing timing, and understanding consumer behaviors, we can create a better future together. So, let's harness the power of genuine engagement, seize the right opportunities, and architect familiar surprises to make the world suck less.

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