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Reddit strikes AI content-licensing deal with Google: sources

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Reddit inked a licensing deal with Google that will hand over the popular social media site’s content to train the tech behemoth’s artificial intelligence models, sources familiar with the agreement revealed.

The contract with Alphabet-owned Google is worth about $60 million per year, according to one of the sources.

The length of the deal and what content the San Francisco-based company will provide was not disclosed.

The deal underscores how Reddit — which is preparing for its long-awaited initial public offering — is seeking to generate new revenue amid fierce competition for advertising dollars from the likes of TikTok and Facebook-parent Meta.

Representatives for Reddit and Google did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.

Bloomberg previously reported Reddit’s content deal without naming the buyer, noting that the San Francisco-based networking platform told prospective buyers in its yet-to-be-filed IPO that it had signed the deal.

Reddit struck a content-licensing deal with Google, which can now use the social media site to train its artificial intelligence models, according to people familiar with the matter. wachiwit – stock.adobe.com

An unnamed source told Bloomberg that the agreement could serve as a model for future contracts of a similar nature.

The agreement with Google is Reddit’s first reported deal with a big AI company.

It comes less than a year after Reddit implemented a paid model for its third-party apps, or application programming interfaces (APIs), that allow monthly users to customize their Reddit experience — for example, by personalizing their display theme or changing how they upvote a post — and ensure that their data is not collected and shared.

Instead of Reddit footing the bill to operate APIs, the API itself now has to pay the costs — a move CEO Steve Huffman told The New York Times at the time said was made so Reddit doesn’t continue giving away all its “valuable” data for free.

The move upset some users who rely on third-party apps to access Reddit, and nearly 8,000 subreddit forms went dark for 48 hours in protest of the new pricing policy.

The agreement with Google is Reddit’s first reported deal with a big AI company. AP

Moderators — who work as unpaid volunteers for Reddit, doing tasks such as setting community rules and enduring threads remain on topic — said at the time that they wanted Reddit admins to realize how much they rely on “mods” to run the site, and will catch their attention by harming the site’s traffic.

Reddit still raked in more than $800 million in revenue in 2023 — a 20% year-over-year increase, people familiar with the company’s financials told Bloomberg.

The company primarily generates its revenue through advertising.

In April, Reddit rolled out a $5.99-per-month subscription price for users to access premium content, though the initiative has yet to turn a profit, Huffman revealed in a Reddit post.

The move to profit from AI will help Reddit tap into investors’ enthusiasm for the technology, thus boosting its IPO, Bloomberg reported.

Reddit has reportedly been mulling a stock float for more than three years, but has held back from pulling the IPO trigger in the past until it came closer to profitability.

Bouts of market volatility that shut down the IPO market for much of the last two years also contributed to it delaying its plans.

However, Reddit is expected to make its high-profile IPO filing this week, which would detail its financials for the first time to potential investors upon its debut.

The filing could be available as early as Thursday, two of the sources said.

Investor Alexis Ohanian — who’s married to Serena Williams — and his college roommate at the University of Virginia, web developer Steve Huffman co-founded Reddit in 2005. Getty Images

The company — co-founded in 2005 by prolific investor Alexis Ohanian and his college roommate at the University of Virginia, web developer Steve Huffman — was valued at about $10 billion in a funding round in 2021.

It is seeking to sell about 10% of its shares in the offering, Reuters has previously reported.

Reddit’s stock market launch would mark the first IPO of a major social media company since Pinterest floated its shares in 2019.

Reddit routed roughly 850 million monthly active users in 2023 — surpassing Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn, according to Business of Apps.

Reddit’s highly-anticipated IPO would mark a major social media company’s first debut since Pinterest went public in 2019. AFP via Getty Images

It has also become popular for fueling dozens of “meme stock” rallies.

Perhaps the most infamous so-called meme stock was GameStop — the subject of the recently-released “Dumb Money” film, which detailed how the rumors of the video-game retailer on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets discussion thread helped make the video-game retailer among the most widely-shorted US companies.

AMC Entertainment shares also soared on a meme stock rally boosted by the same forum on Reddit, where users shared countless posts cheering the movie theater chain when its stock finished up more than 100% in mid-2021.

With Post wires

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