On Thursday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman stated that the developer of RIF is fun for Reddit (RIF), a popular third-party Reddit app for Android, did not want to collaborate with Reddit on the company’s upcoming API pricing changes. However, according to the developer Andrew Shu, that is not accurate. Shu shared emails with The Verge that seem to support his claim.
During the interview, Huffman was asked if Reddit could provide developers with more time to implement the API changes, which Shu has already stated will force him to shut down RIF by the end of this month. Here is Huffman’s response:
“I said we are working with everybody who is willing to work with us, which includes many of the other third-party apps. The three you mentioned said they don’t want to work with us and they’re shutting down. I didn’t tell them to do that. We have had many conversations — well, not with RIF, he never wanted to talk to us — but with the others, we were having such conversations, and we’ll work with the others. A deadline is important, otherwise these things just linger and linger and linger.”
However, based on the emails that have been seen, it is clear that the two parties did indeed communicate. The conversations started off on a poor note, as Reddit had trouble reaching out to Shu. On April 25th, Reddit sent an email titled “URGENT: Immediate Compliance with Reddit API Terms Required — 48 Hour Response Deadline,” stating that they had made several attempts to contact Shu. Shu responded, and they exchanged a few emails about scheduling a call.
On May 1st, Reddit followed up after the call to summarize the discussion, which revealed that ads in apps would no longer be allowed starting June 19th. This effectively killed RIF’s business model and gave Shu very little time to adapt. A few hours later, Shu responded to express his concerns about the proposed changes.
Shu criticized Reddit’s flawed reasoning behind the changes and their demanding attitude. He mentioned that if Reddit wanted a lasting partnership, it should be respectful and collaborative. Shu suggested starting over and finding a solution that benefits both Reddit and developers, as well as the users.
On May 30th, Reddit reached out again to offer a follow-up call with updates. Shu declined, stating that since the information had already been made public, a phone call would not be productive. Reddit mentioned they were available to discuss if Shu changed his mind and followed up once more on June 7th.
In the interview on Thursday, Huffman allegedly displayed an aggressive stance toward third-party developers. Christian Selig, the developer of Apollo, claimed that Huffman told Reddit moderators that Selig had “threatened” the company. Selig released evidence that showed the misinterpretation of his comments and the subsequent clarification during a conversation with a Reddit employee.
Regardless of this communication issue, Huffman expressed his dissatisfaction with Selig, stating that his behavior and communication were inconsistent and questionable. Selig requested examples but did not receive a response from Huffman.
Both Shu and Selig agree that paying for API use is a reasonable request, as long as the pricing is fair. They have concerns about the pricing and the way the changes are being implemented by Reddit.
Shu also revealed that RIF began paying a revenue share to Reddit in 2012, during Yishan Wong’s tenure as CEO. They had a licensing agreement allowing for the use of Reddit’s trademarks. However, Reddit terminated the agreement in 2016, a year after Huffman became CEO.