Steve Huffman

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Steve Huffman
Web Summit 2017 - Centre Stage Day 2 CG1 7885 (38232183112) (cropped).jpg
Huffman at Web Summit 2017
Born (1983-11-12) November 12, 1983 (age 36)
Other namesspez[1]
EducationComputer Science
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
  • Co-founder and CEO of Reddit
  • Co-founder of Hipmunk

Steve Huffman (born November 12, 1983), also known by his Reddit username spez (/spɛz/), is an American web developer and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Reddit, a social news and discussion website, which ranks in the top 20 websites in the world.[2] He also co-founded the airfare search-engine website Hipmunk.

Early life and education[edit]

Steve Huffman grew up in Warrenton, Virginia.[3] At age 8, he began programming computers.[3] He graduated in 2001 from Wakefield School in The Plains, Virginia.[4] At the University of Virginia (UVA), he studied computer science, graduating in 2005.[3][5]


During spring break of his senior year at UVA, Huffman and college roommate Alexis Ohanian[1] drove to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend a lecture[6] delivered by programmer-entrepreneur Paul Graham.[1][7] Huffman and Ohanian talked with Graham after the lecture and he invited them to apply to his startup incubator Y Combinator.[1] Huffman came up with their original idea, My Mobile Menu,[7] which was intended to allow users to order food by SMS.[1][7] The idea was rejected, but Graham asked Huffman and Ohanian to meet him in Boston to pitch another idea for a start-up; it was at this brainstorming session that the idea for what Graham called the "front page of the Internet" was created.[1] Huffman and Ohanian were accepted in Y Combinator's first class.[1][7] Huffman coded the entire site in Lisp.[8][9] He and Ohanian launched Reddit in June 2005, funded by Y Combinator.[5][10]

The site’s audience grew rapidly in its first few months, and by August 2005, Huffman noticed their habitual user-base had grown so large that he no longer needed to fill the front page with content himself.[8][11][12] At 23, Huffman and Ohanian sold Reddit to Condé Nast on October 31, 2006, for a reported $10 million to $20 million.[1][13] Huffman remained with Reddit until 2009, when he left his role as acting CEO.[14]

Huffman spent several months backpacking in Costa Rica[15] before co-creating the travel website Hipmunk with Adam Goldstein, an author and software developer, in 2010. Funded by Y Combinator,[16][17] Hipmunk launched in August 2010[18] with Huffman serving as CTO.[19] In 2011, Inc. named Huffman to its 30 under 30 list.[19]

In 2014, Huffman said that his decision to sell Reddit had been a mistake, and that the site's growth had exceeded his expectations.[20] On July 10, 2015, Reddit hired Huffman as CEO following the resignation of Ellen Pao[21] and during a particularly difficult time for the company.[22] Upon rejoining the company, Huffman's top goals included launching Reddit's iOS and Android apps, fixing Reddit's mobile website, and creating A/B testing infrastructure.[1]

Since returning to Reddit, Huffman instituted a number of technological improvements[22] including a better mobile experience and stronger infrastructure, as well as new content guidelines. These included a ban on content that incites violence, quarantining some material users might find offensive, and removing communities "that exist solely to ... make Reddit worse for everyone else".[1][22] Shortly after returning, Huffman wrote that "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."[23] In a 2012 interview, Ohanian had used the same phrase to describe Reddit, as noted by The New Yorker and The Verge.[15][24]

Huffman also worked to make the site more advertiser-friendly[1][22] and led efforts to host video and images on site.[25] In late 2016, Huffman was the focus of controversy for altering posts on a subreddit popular with supporters of Donald Trump, /r/The Donald. Following criticism from Reddit users, he undid the change and issued an apology.[26] Beginning in 2017, Huffman led the redesign of Reddit's website with its first major visual update in a decade.[27][28] Huffman said the site had looked like a "dystopian Craigslist" whose outdated look deterred new users.[27] Development of the new site took more than a year, and the redesign launched in April 2018.[27]

Net neutrality activism[edit]

Huffman is an advocate for net neutrality rules.[29][30] In 2017, Huffman told The New York Times that without net neutrality protections, "you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers".[29] On Reddit, Huffman urged redditors to express support for net neutrality and contact their elected representatives in Washington, D.C.[30] Huffman said that the repeal of net neutrality rules stifles competition. He said he and Reddit would continue to advocate for net neutrality.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Huffman lives in San Francisco, California.[32] He mentors aspiring programmers at coding bootcamps including Hackbright Academy.[33] Huffman was an instructor for e-learning courses on web development by Udacity.[34][35][36] He is on the board of advisors for the Anti-Defamation League's Center for Technology and Society.[37]

Huffman is a ballroom dancer.[32][9] At the UVA, Huffman competed in intercollegiate competitions.[32][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hempel, Jessi (6 October 2015). "Inside Reddit's plan to recover from its epic meltdown". Wired. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  2. ^ "The top 500 sites on the web". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Jaffee, Michelle Koidin (Fall 2014). "The Voice of His Generation". Virginia. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  4. ^ "The Odyssey of an Alum". Wakefield School. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b Zak Richards. "Unleashing High-Profile, High-Profit Websites".
  6. ^ Williams, Michelle (August 2015). "'This internet thing is not a fad': Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to discuss online entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst". Mass Live. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Fink, Steve (August 2015). "Mr. Meme". Baltimore. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Live Episode! Reddit: Alexis Ohanian & Steve Huffman". How I Built This With Guy Raz. 31 August 2017. NPR.
  9. ^ a b c Wallace, Benjamin (6 October 2015). "Can Steve Huffman Save Reddit From Itself?". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  10. ^ Macale, Sherilynn "Cheri". "A rundown of Reddit's history and community [Infographic]". The Next Web Social Media. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  11. ^ Derek Mead (21 June 2012). "How Reddit Got Huge: Tons of Fake Accounts". Motherboard. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  12. ^ Casey Johnston (21 June 2012). "reddit founders made hundreds of fake profiles so site looked popular". Ars Technica. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Condé Nast/Wired Acquires Reddit". 2006-10-31.
  14. ^ Koh, Yoree (13 September 2016). "Reddit's 'Ask Me Anything' CEO opens up on overcoming crisis". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  15. ^ a b Marantz, Andrew (19 March 2018). "Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet". The New Yorker. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  16. ^ "About Hipmunk". Hipmunk. 2010-08-01.
  17. ^ Leena Rao (2010-08-01). "Reddit Co-Founder Dips Back Into Y Combinator With Travel Startup Hipmunk".
  18. ^ Pepitone, Julianne (19 August 2010). "Hipmunk's dazzling new view of flight search". CNNMoney. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman, Founders of Hipmunk". 2011-06-27.
  20. ^ Matthew Hall (10 Dec 2014). "'Atrocious, mobile sucks': Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman on what site has become". The Age.
  21. ^ Issac, Mike (July 10, 2015). "Ellen Pao Is Stepping Down as Reddit's Chief". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  22. ^ a b c d Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine (9 March 2018). "Steve Huffman Talks About Bringing Reddit Back From the Brink". Inc. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  23. ^ "New CEO: Some People on Reddit 'Shouldn't Be Here at All'". Re/Code. 14 Jul 2015.
  24. ^ Adi Robertson (15 July 2015). "Was Reddit always about free speech? Yes, and no". The Verge. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  25. ^ Shaw, Dougal (2 June 2016). "Reddit plans to host videos on its site". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  26. ^ Roisin Kiberd (5 December 2016). "'Spezgiving': How Reddit's CEO Tried And Failed to Troll the Trolls". Motherboard. Vice. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  27. ^ a b c Pardes, Arielle (2 April 2018). "The inside story of Reddit's redesign". Wired. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  28. ^ Loten, Angus (10 April 2018). "Reddit CEO revamped outdated website from the IT foundations". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  29. ^ a b Kang, Cecilia (14 December 2017). "F.C.C. repeals net neutrality rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  30. ^ a b Ingram, Mathew (6 December 2017). "Reddit flexes its muscle over net neutrality". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  31. ^ "Reddit CEO says net neutrality vote stifles competition". Bloomberg LP. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  32. ^ a b c Osnos, Evan (30 January 2017). "Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich". The New Yorker. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  33. ^ Truong, Alice (17 December 2013). ""Become an iOS developer in 8 weeks": The truth about hack schools". Fast Company. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  34. ^ "Udacity CS253 Web Application Engineering". 2012-04-01.
  35. ^ Sue Gee (11 November 2015). "Top CS MOOCs by the numbers". I Programmer. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  36. ^ O'Neill, Megan (19 June 2012). "Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman sheds light on the early days". Adweek. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  37. ^ Carson, Erin (13 November 2017). "Anti-Defamation League taps tech giants to fight hate". CNet. Retrieved 13 November 2017.

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