Reddit assessments computerized, whole-site translation into French utilizing LLM-based AI

Reddit — now a publicly-traded company with more scrutiny on revenue growth — is putting a big focus on boosting its international audience, starting with francophones. In their first-ever earnings call, CEO Steve Huffman confirmed the company is now working on automatic translations of the site’s content, in real-time, into French, thanks to advances in large language models.

He also touched on ecosystem expansion by way of a couple of u-turns. It wants to court developers with new tools — a surprise given the company’s history on this front; and it is planning a reintroduction of Reddit Gold — another surprise considering the company canned its virtual currency efforts less than a year ago.

Moves like these are anticipating what the future, rather than the present, might look like for Reddit. Today, its news is relatively encouraging, with Reddit’s revenue in the last quarter jumping 48% year-over-year to $243 million, and unique users growing 37% to 82.7 million. (That figure includes both logged-in and logged-out users, similar to how Twitter — now called X — used to count its audience when it was public.)

User growth and translation

Huffman, speaking on the earnings call, said that half of Reddit’s audience is U.S.-based, which points to the company putting more focus on how to increase the international proportion.

“We’re still 50/50 U.S. versus non-U.S., but our peers are more than 80% to 90% non-U.S.,” he said. “I think there’s a huge opportunity there.” He went on to describe automatic, AI-powered translation as “one of the big unlocks for us in the near to medium term.”

“So we’re translating our entire corpus today that is mostly in English into the other languages and hope that will help accelerate international growth,” he said.

The site-wide translation effort is still a test, in his words, although there is a lot of resource being put into it. Huffman noted that this content is also being indexed on Google results for the French language, driving more traffic to the site, and the company next wants to tackle Spanish.

Reddit been offering post-based translation since last year with support for eight languages.

Developer tools

It was surreal to hear Huffman talk about developer tools on the call. It was only in July 2023 that the company found itself embroiled in a massive feud with third-party client developers over API changes — resulting in the blackout of hundreds of subreddits in protest of API changes.

Now the social network is in play-nice mode. Huffman said there are plans for tools that could “push the boundaries of what a subreddit can be.” He gave examples of some ongoing experiments like live scores on some sports subreddits and a live stock ticker on r/wallstreetbets, the subreddit known for the Gamestop stock saga.

A few hundred developers are already testing these new experiences, he said. Reddit aims to include more developers from the waitlist this summer and enable monetization features later in the year.

Other announcements

Earlier this year, Reddit signed a deal with Google to let the search engine company use the social network’s data. In answering a question from the Reddit community, Huffman said that the company plans to license data to other companies as well. This has been a big issue, and in many cases controversial in light of the fact that users may not want their data being used for, say, AI training or some of the other common purposes these days. For what it’s worth, Huffman, you might have guessed, insisted that the company is being “considerate and selective” in how it selects partners.

The name of the game for the company right now is building more infrastructure for revenue generation. So while Gold and another currency effort, blockchain-based community points, were both canned last year, virtual currency is going to getting another airing on the platform because it represents an opportunity for Reddit to diversify its business model. During the earnings call, the company noted that it plans to launch a “revamped” Gold product, with programs for users to spend and earn money on the platform.

Last month, Reddit CPO Pali Bhat mentioned some of these new initiatives in an interview with TechCrunch, and now the company is making moves to leverage those growth instruments.