Since my last post on crypto-currency I’ve had discussions with others who jokingly mentioned Reddit users’ karma scores as a contender to Bitcoin. While user karma scores would promote a dubious economic model, Reddit has actually tried once before in 2014 to create its own currency. Called “Reddit Notes” the idea was to generate a social media currency distributed among platform users. Users would be able use the currency to donate to their favorite charities or tip other users which would keep the currency in circulation.
This push for a way to “give back to the community” came from then-CEO Yishan Wong. After raising more than $50M in a funding round, Wong touched on his hope that a Reddit-based currency could be used by the platform’s users to purchase shared in the company. That was in September of 2014. By that December Reddit’s leadership communications seemed hesitant to describe Reddit Notes as a form of currency. No doubt the long term plan was to have users pay for the Notes a la Bitcoin but since the announced Note couldn’t actually be used to purchase anything, calling it a currency would have been dodgy at best.
In any case, the project was largely abandoned when Wong left the company in November of 2014. The project lead, Ryan Charles, continued working on the idea until his termination (which he details here) in January 2015.
The jury’s still out on how Reddit plans to give back to the community that has made their website one of the most visited in the world. Fortunately the site hasn’t totally given up on crypto-currencies; you can always use Bitcoin to buy Reddit Gold.