Steve Huffman is an American web developer and entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of the social news aggregation and discussion website Reddit, He created the website with Alexis Ohanian in 2005 and sold it for millions of dollars the next year, when he was still a few days away from his 23rd birthday. He also co-founded the airfare search-engine website Hipmunk with author and software developer Adam Goldstein. He was included in the 30 under 30 list by 'Inc.' business magazine in 2011. He is on the board of advisors for the Anti-Defamation League's Center for Technology and Society. He was an instructor on web development for the e-learning platform Udacity and mentors aspiring programmers at coding bootcamps such as Hackbright Academy. He is an advocate for net neutrality rules and also urged redditors to support the issue.
Rise to Stardom
Steve Huffman began programming when he was around eight years old. During his senior year at university, he and his roommate Alexis Ohanian attended a lecture by programmer-entrepreneur Paul Graham in Boston, Massachusetts, and also talked to him after the lecture, when Graham invited them to apply to his startup incubator Y Combinator. Their initial idea of developing a phone-based food-ordering system named 'My Mobile Menu', shortened to 'MMM', was rejected as there were not enough people browsing the internet on their cell phones at the time. However, while they were on their way back home, Graham invited them back for another start-up idea, which he called the "front page of the Internet". They were accepted into Y Combinator's first class and Huffman coded the entire Reddit site in Lisp in one month. After Y Combinator funded its launch in June 2005, the site grew exponentially within a short period of time, surprising both Huffman and Ohanian, who decided to sell the site to the mass media company Condé Nast on October 31, 2006, for $10-20 million. Huffman stayed the acting CEO of Reddit until 2009.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
In 2010, Steve Huffman co-created the travel website Hipmunk with Adam Goldstein, an author and software developer. The website was also funded by Y Combinator, and Huffman served as its Chief Technology Officer, while Goldstein was its CEO. Talking to the media in December 2014 in the wake of the celebrity photo leak scandal earlier that year, he lamented the state of Reddit, which he thought did not improve since his departure. Even though he was glad that he was not part of it at the time, he also regretted the decision to sell the site so early. After Reddit's then-CEO Ellen Pao resigned, Huffman was hired in that position and soon focused on developing the iOS and Android apps for the site, fixing its mobile website and creating A/B testing infrastructure. Apart from several technological improvements, he also set up new content guidelines, made the site more advertiser-friendly, and led the redesign of the website, which was launched in April 2018 following a year of development.
Controversies & Scandals
Steve Huffman's new content guidelines called for banning content that incites violence or might be offensive to other users, and advocated removing communities "that exist solely to ... make Reddit worse for everyone else". He clarified adding, "neither Alexis nor I created reddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen." The same phrase was used by Ohanian in interviews in 2012. However, he also mentioned that the concept of free speech was "important to us". In November 2016, a member of a subreddit dedicated to Donald Trump, /r/The_Donald, posted evidence that Reddit administrators had modified several user comments inside the subreddit.
It created a huge controversy which drew criticism from Reddit users, as well as former CEO Ellen Pao, following which Huffman took responsibility for the comment modifications and issued an apology stating that all changes were undone within an hour. Later that month, he announced that sticky posts from /r/The_Donald would no longer show up on r/all, blaming the community's moderators for abusing the feature.
Family & Personal Life
Steve Huffman was born on November 12, 1983, in Warrenton, Virginia, United States. His mother is a lawyer who completed law school when Steven was a child. He has three younger siblings. He graduated from Wakefield School in The Plains, Virginia, in 2001. He obtained his degree in computer science from the University of Virginia in 2005. By that time he had been dating Katie Babiarz, a medical student, for a couple of years. They maintained long-distance relationship while he was building Reddit in Boston, and subsequently married in 2009. They have since then divorced.