We Are the Nerds | Christine Lagorio

Summary of: We Are the Nerds: The Inside Story of Reddit, the Internet’s Totally Offensive, Utterly Hilarious, Wildly Influential Culture Laboratory
By: Christine Lagorio


Get ready to dive into the tumultuous and awe-inspiring story of Reddit, as detailed in Christine Lagorio’s ‘We Are the Nerds’. From the humble beginnings of two college friends with a dream, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, to becoming one of the world’s most popular websites, Reddit’s journey is a tale of passion, innovation, and resilience. Learn about the birth of influential features like the upvote and downvote system and subreddits, the rollercoaster ride of leadership and the ongoing struggle to balance free speech with responsible content moderation. This summary will take you through the highs and lows of Reddit’s exciting history and development.

The Birth of Reddit

In 2001, two college roommates, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, shared an interest in startups, tech, and video games. Later on, their idea to aggregate the best of the web’s infinite content became a $6,000 investment from Paul Graham. After a hard summer’s work, they created Reddit, a website that allows users to interact with content through a voting system and explore niche communities through subreddits. With millions of active users worldwide, Reddit has become a staple of the internet age and a platform where users can find their tribe.

From MVP to Reddit

The successful story of Reddit’s MVP and growth hacking strategy.

Silicon Valley has witnessed the rise of startups that transformed society and economies in the early twenty-first century. However, launching an online business and earning billions is not as easy as it seems. The success of Reddit, specifically, can be attributed to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy developed by Paul Graham, creating a no-frills operation that can quickly respond to user feedback. The secret of MVP is to deliver only what the user needs.

Reddit was created as a platform for user-generated content, and getting actual users was crucial to its success. The process of growth hacking was implemented, which involved creating fake accounts and posting content to make the site appear lively to attract users. The combination of MVP and growth hacking techniques have ultimately helped Reddit become a vibrant and essential part of the internet. The success of Reddit emphasizes the importance of user feedback, streamlined product design, and growth hacking techniques for startups to become successful in the digital age.

The Rise and Fall of Aaron Swartz at Reddit

Reddit’s hiring of Aaron Swartz leads to a tumultuous partnership that ultimately ends in burnout as the company is on the verge of a major deal.

According to an old English saying, “the company makes the feast,” meaning that the people you are with are more important than the occasion’s trappings. Reddit co-founders, Ohanian and Huffman, would come to realize the truth of this saying when they hired Aaron Swartz, the internet wunderkind, as part of their team. Swartz was already a legend among programmers when they brought him into the company. He had co-written the RSS 1.0 standard at 14 years old. He had a brilliant computing mind, and his anarchical nature seemed like a perfect fit for Reddit.

However, things began to unravel within a couple of months. Swartz’s behavior became erratic, and he isolated himself from his colleagues. He stopped coding, became obsessed with his personal blog, and delved into other ventures such as building a new search engine for Amazon and writing a book on child development. These actions took a toll on the Reddit team.

Despite these challenges, Reddit was on the verge of a major deal: a sale to media conglomerate, Condé Nast. However, the team was close to burnout, and Swartz’s behavior was only making things more difficult. In the end, both Ohanian and Huffman had to take charge and manage the situation.

The rise and fall of Aaron Swartz at Reddit is a cautionary tale of how talented individuals can sometimes be a double-edged sword. While they can bring unique skills to the table, their attitudes and behavior can negatively impact the team.

Reddit’s Rollercoaster History

Reddit, just 16 months old, had less than a million monthly readers by 2006, but the new kid on the block quickly rose to fame, drawing in seemingly endless streams of viewers. It was an outstanding achievement, given that other internet giants had already established their presence. Soon after, media giant Condé Nast acquired Reddit for a cool $10 million, and Swartz, Ohanian, and Huffman moved to San Francisco. However, Swartz’s erratic behavior at the company forced him to resign, and the company was forced to take action.

The Rise and Fall of Reddit

Reddit grew exponentially, becoming the go-to platform for internet pranks and memes. Co-founders Ohanian and Huffman, however, struggled to maintain their working relationship, leading to arguments, exhaustion, and ultimately their departure from the company in 2009 and 2010.

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