Thursday, April 03, 2008

reddit gets a wsj journal shoutout, the triumph of a project that started as a gawker shirt slogan generator

Next week, the Dillard's Web site will start using technology from Reddit, a social news site acquired by Condé Nast in 2006.

The latest example involves Condé Nast, which designed a shopping and social-networking promotion for the retailer Dillard's. The promotion, to kick off next week, uses tools from news-aggregation site Reddit, which Condé Nast bought in 2006. It lets visitors to Dillard's Web site vote on merchandise that later will be featured in online ads.

I remember when I first got pitched the idea of using a stripped down reddit to let Gawker readers submit and vote on t-shirt slogans. It wasn't a stretch for us technologically and I'd been able to work out a pretty good deal for the work. If you'd asked me then whether it had the potential to drive as much revenue as it does now, I probably have laughed and made a joke about dot-coms and "generating revenue."

But after working with our lovely partners at Gawker, we updated the product and built the tools to reduce our workload as much as possible. The end result got overhauled by Jeremy not long after he joined us at Condé Nast and the self-serve tool has been a hit ever since.

I spent a good chunk of my time in New York giving presentations on the tool and doing more general proselytizing reddit and explaining just what the hell we were doing there :)

The response was remarkably positive and I began handing out administrator accounts throughout the company with some lightweight documentation (Jeremy, a veteran of eBay/Paypal had baked most of it right into the app -- making both of our lives immeasurably easier). Next time, Jeremy, we'll make sure you get a quote and stipple portrait. You've earned it.

I'm quite pleased with all the creative projects teams around the company have built with our core software. Some of the designs have been quite innovative; it's a great example of just how little you know about your software until you let someone else create something with it. And best of all, it's been fairly seamless -- reddit polls get launched daily without much fuss and the pageviews roll in.

You can never assume you wholly know your own software -- you'll be surprised to find out what hidden products may lie within, just be flexible enough to try some out. You're a startup, after all, just buy an extra case of redbull and get it online.