Reddit Announces IPO on Heels of Expanded Deal with Google

Community message board and social news aggregator Reddit, founded in 2005, has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange in an IPO observers say may be complete in a matter of weeks. It is the first social media company to go public in many years, with Snap Inc.’s 2017 offering cited as the most recent stock market splash. Reddit’s bankers are reportedly seeking a $5 billion valuation, about half the $10 billion it was valued at for a 2021 private funding round. Reddit filed with the SEC the same day it announced an “expanded partnership” with Google to use Vertex AI.

The Securities and Exchange Commission registration statement did not include an issue date, per share pricing or how many shares will issue. It does reveal that in 2023 Reddit says it narrowed net loss to $90.8 million ($1.54 a share) from 2022’s $158.6 million ($2.77 per share). Reddit’s revenue is said to have been $804 million last year, up 21 percent.

Reddit describes itself in the SEC filing as “a valuable source of conversational data and knowledge” and “one of the Internet’s largest corpuses of information, with over one billion posts and over 16 billion comments through December 31, 2023,” during which month it was ranked “among the top ten most-visited sites in the United States” by Similarweb.

“Our content is particularly important for artificial intelligence — it is a foundational part of how many of the leading large language models have been trained,” the S-1 statement continues.

Google seems to agree, noting in a blog post it “now has access to Reddit’s Data API, which delivers real-time, structured, unique content from their large and dynamic platform. Google says it will “display, train on, and otherwise use” the data.

Vertex AI will no doubt help improve Reddit search results, and Google plans “new ways to display Reddit content,” according to a Reddit blog post that says its API will provide Google “more efficient ways to train models,” though both companies stressed their existing policies will remain unchanged. This includes Reddit’s prohibition against developers or companies using its API for commercial purposes without approval.

The partners did not disclose financial details, but The Verge says the deal is “reportedly worth $60 million per year.” In October, Reddit threatened to block Google crawlers for fear the Alphabet company would try to train on its data for free.

As for the IPO, The New York Times writes that “the prospectus kicks off a process” whereby the 18-year-old company will “meet potential investors to whet their appetites for buying its shares.”

The Wall Street Journal says Reddit “filed confidentially for an IPO in late 2021,” but let it fizzle. The company plans to trade as RDDT.

On a related note regarding Google, The Verge says “Google Search is currently expanding the test of a ‘forums’ filter that lets you browse through results from sites with human discussion, like Reddit, Stack Overflow and Hacker News.”

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