The move shows that the Condé Nast-owned site sees its users’ charitable efforts as a linchpin for future success.
“This is a great calling card,” Erik Martin, the social news site’s general manager, told The Daily Dot. “It’s a great first intro to Reddit, for media, for sponsors down the road and for users.”
Husband-and-wife team Dan McComas and Jessica Moreno started RedditGifts in 2009. That’s when the Reddit community responded enthusiastically to McComas’ call for a site-wide Secret Santa event.
That first event saw 4,500 people exchange gifts. McComas, a Web programmer, created the site and gift-giving database himself. Since then the duo, working part-time, have turned RedditGifts into a major success.
In 2010 they added another event to their repertoire, Arbitrary Day, a secular gift-giving event that differed from Secret Santa by coming in July. Combined, the two events have brought gifts to 42,771 people in 106 countries. Redditors have spent nearly $1.5 million on the gifts.
Martin said this year’s Secret Santa could reach 30,000 contributors, which threatened to push the couple to their limits.
“We didn’t want to see it sort of die on us,” Martin said. “We had to figure out a way to keep it going. We love when people build things on the Reddit platform, and we really want to support it.”
On their official blog, McComas and Moreno emphasized that the deal would change little in their day-to-day operations:
“We are so happy about this as it will allow us to really put our efforts toward making RedditGifts exchanges and meetups better than ever. We will no longer cram 10 hours of work into two hours of spare time after the kids go to bed.”
It’s the social news site’s first acquisition and another step forward for a company that until recently seemed to suffer under the long-term neglect of its corporate parent, Condé Nast.
At the time of its 2006 acquisition, the magazine publisher announced plans to create online communities based on Reddit’s software, like the now-shuttered Lipstick.com. But that vision never came to fruition.
For a time last year, the site was operated by only one full-time engineer and saw frequent server crashes. In June, the company went on an unusual hiring spree, adding three new engineers.
Martin declined to comment on whether any capital was involved in the purchase, or if it was a so-called “talent acquisition,” where companies spend a nominal amount in order to hire the creators of a startup in the guise of a purchase.