Berkeley Haas - Dean's Speaker Series | Jen Wong, COO, Reddit

  • Good afternoon everybody.

I’m Anne Harrison.

I’m the dean of the Haas School of Business.

Welcome to today’s Dean Speaker series co-sponsored

by our MBA Student club,

Q at Haas.

(audience applauds)

So I am really delighted to introduce today’s speaker,

Jen Wong,

who is the Chief Operating Officer of Reddit.

In her role since 2018,

she oversees business strategy and related teams.

Jen has been instrumental in transforming Reddit,

through increasing its user base,

which now has reached revenues of over a hundred million.

She has also played a leadership role

in Reddit’s effort to deepen online communities.

Jen has over 15 years of industry experience

in digital media spaces,

most recently working as Chief Operating Officer

and president of Digital at Time Inc.

She’s also held leadership roles in business operations


Jen earned her MBA from Harvard Business School.

She has an MS in Engineering Economic Systems and Operations

from Stanford.

We’ll forgive you for that, Jen.

And she has a BS in Applied Mathematics

from Yale University.

Her recognitions include being named number four

on Fast Companies Square 50,

and on Gold House’s a 100 list,

that honors the most impactful Asians and Asian American

and Pacific Islanders in culture.

Thank you so much, Jen,

for taking the time out of your busy schedule.

We’re honored and grateful to have you join us today

and especially as we celebrate coming out week at Haas.


(audience applauds)

  • Thank you so much Dean Harrison,

it’s really my honor to be here and be invited.

Thank you.

  • Oh, you’re so welcome.

So I’m now going to turn it over to Erin Brock,

who will tell us about Q at Haas

and coming out week activities.

(audience applauds)

  • Hello,

my name is Erin Brock and I am the VP of coming out week

for Q at Haas.

Q at Haas was founded over 30 years ago now,

by four Haas’s who wanted to create a safe space,

to experience their business school,


amongst fellow L G B T plus classmates,

as well as to develop queer leadership in the workplace,

and draw in the larger Haas community

into this conversation.

We are celebrating coming out week,

this week as a larger celebration of L G B T communities.

We also recognize that coming out is an incredibly personal

and unique process for every queer individual.

Some people may never come out,

some people will may be considering coming out,

some people may have been out since they were four

or five years old.

We wanna reiterate that all those experiences are valid,

and our role here on this campus is to create a safe space

for the full spectrum of L G B T plus identities

that are here,

and the different stages that people may be in

within their coming out journey.

We are really excited to be able to bring,

more LGBT leadership from companies like Reddit

and Jen’s leadership to campus,

and be able to lead this conversation

around what it means to be an ally and a queer leader

in our modern business world.

(audience applauds)

  • Thank you, Erin.

Thank you Jen for joining us,

and thank you to everyone in the audience for joining us

this afternoon and spending some of your time with us

for what is going to be a really great conversation.

My name is Via Valencia.

My pronouns are they them.

I’m one of the co-presidents of Q at Haas

and I’ll be moderating along with-

  • I’m Jona,

I’m one of the other co-presidents of Q at Haas

and my pronouns are she her.

  • Great, so Jen,

Dean Anne Harrison shared a long line of accomplishments

in her introduction to you,

but I’m really hoping that you can fill in the gaps

in transitions for us.

So can you share your leadership journey,

and what were your steps in deciding where, when,

and how to take boulder steps in your career,

so that you can get to the point that you are now?

  • You know, it’s interesting.

I never thought of myself as a leader,

certainly growing up and for large parts of my career.

I think growing up,

I just assumed a leader was like a person who told

other people what to do.

And I think for people who knew me when I was younger,

they probably would maybe be surprised at what I do today

because I was very introverted, very shy,

and I was actually scared of talking in front

of people still, you know,

cause a little stress for me.

But over time, you know,

I’d say I really began to appreciate companies

and then appreciate the amazing things that they do

which is, you know,

make goods and services that people can use,

like millions of people,

and support the livelihoods of a lot of people.

And I became really interested

in the people who ran those companies

and I’ve spent a lot of time just reading about it.

You know,

when I’ve made changes in my career,

it’s usually driven by a couple of things

and I generally like to say hopefully I’m moving towards

something really positive although sometimes,

admittedly I need a little kick in the pants

which is feeling maybe a little bit

like I need a new prompt to solve.

So the first is usually I look for something that’s like,

really interesting problem,

something that where I can learn,

and that really usually propels me.

So I’m a puzzler at heart and I,

I love like, new problems.

So when my mind starts searching for a new problem,

that gets me excited about what the next opportunity is,

especially when I’ve like fixed a problem at a place

or a puzzle I’m like,

“Okay, I’ve like maybe finished the end of this journey.”

The second is,

for me and I think each of you will figure this out,

I’m really attracted to consumer,

kind of Zeitgeist businesses.

I love pop culture,

I fiddle with new apps all the time,

and that’s what I enjoy.

And so, you know,

anytime I’ve made a move,

I’ve always stayed in the area of consumer businesses

because I feel like it resonates with my personal intuition

about the product,

that’s really important.

And I think that helps me do better in terms of my work.

The third is I think,

I always try to move towards something

where it’s a very clear lane for me to have impact.

I think Reddit was a great example of this.

Reddit was, you know,

when I joined in 2018,

was over a decade old but didn’t,

and very large in terms of user base,

but had no business model,

and I love building businesses and that just felt

like a magical match and runway to have impact.

So I look for that kind of runway.

And then the final thing is always great people.

I mean you work with, you know,

you spend so many hours with folks and it’s everything

on a day to day basis.

So, you know,

if I reflect on the moves that I’ve made,

it’s often been driven by,

wow there’s an amazing person and then there’s this runway

or opportunity,

or wow this is an amazing product I’m really excited about.

And then there’s this runway.

So it’s some combination of the things that I mentioned

before where I said, okay,

this feels like something really significant and exciting.

  • That’s great, thank you for that.

It sounds like you’re really self aware

in where you can really play and put your skills to test,

and you’re also pushing the envelope in terms

of growth so that you can seek new opportunities

and slowly build up.

It sounds like the skills of someone with an MBA.

So you received your MBA from a school on the East Coast,

and much of the audience here today are first

and second year MBA students who are

about to make big decisions in their personal lives

and their careers and what they want for themselves.

So what advice do you have for us to navigate this point

in our lives?

  • I envy all of you.

It was one of the best experiences of my career and life.

So enjoy all of it, I would say,

I think it’s an incredible opportunity to take some risks

and try something new.

I tried starting a business,

which I was curious about,

and I realized I think starting business is actually

not for me.

I’m very entrepreneurial,

but I’m not that interested, I think,

in being an entrepreneur in terms of the zero to 10 phase

of a company.

But I learned that by just trying it when I was,

when I was in school.

The other thing I’ll say is, you know,

I think there’s is pressure to feel like, okay,

I’m leaving business school,

I wanna make like the perfect choice for me,

as if that’s the roller job you’re gonna have

and set the course for the rest of your life.

And it really isn’t.

What I often say is just find a direction that makes sense

and start from there and you’ll feel your way through it

and you’ll get to where you wanna be.

I think that’s been true for me.

And just take some of the pressure off

of having the next decision be absolutely perfect,

because you can kind of torture yourself with that.

I think it’s a great time for reflection, you know,

which will help you do better at that decision,

but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

And then the final thing is just,

it’s a great opportunity to make lifelong friends,

who are truly gonna help you,

I think be great friends to you,

but also will help,

will help you be a more successful leader later.

You know, most jobs in the world I think are

from people you know,

they’re not from recruiters.

I call people all the time for advice,

who don’t work in my industry,

but who’s judgment I trust.

When I went to business school,

I didn’t have a network of queer business leaders.

And that was awesome to have,

and to see how, you know,

people navigated the workplace with different ranges

of coming out and different situations and you know,

dealing with some indignities.

Like it was just really helpful to have that network

and you know, I think the most valuable part

for me turned out I think was definitely the people

and the time and the space to take some risks.

  • Thank you for that.

I think we all definitely in this room feel the pressure

of making perfect decisions.

So your advice around that is really helpful

and we will make sure we take it to heart.

So that’s some of the advice that we should take.

What is some of the advice that we should definitely ignore?

  • Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of advice that I ignored.

So I remember somebody said to me,

“You should have a really, really strong point of view

within the first week of your new job

otherwise people won’t respect you

or think that you know what you’re doing.”

I was like, okay,

I think that sounds like a recipe

for probably not making friends.

And I saw other people kind of behave that way

and I was like okay, that’s not good advice.

I think the second one is I felt a lot of pressure to go

through the recruiting cycle and get a job

for next September in September a year before,

or January the year before.

And there are so many,

and I felt that way about internships too.

And I would just say there are so many opportunities,

they’re all different and you can get a job when you’re

about to graduate or at the end of your first year,

you know,

in a what I call a logical cycle versus,

you know, the annual cycle.

And so just again,

don’t be scared to do that

if that’s the right thing for you.

And, you know,

don’t feel subject to like the pressure of like,

sort of the cycles of recruiting.

I think you know,

I think a lot of people find a lot

of interesting things that are not in the, you know,

sort of standard cycle.

  • Great, thank you for that.

Transitioning into a different topic a little bit

about just interpersonal dynamics,

organizational dynamics.

So it said that Reddit is the most human place on earth,

on the internet,

where trust and authenticity can be found

within sub Reddits,

that’s not typically found in other online communities.

So I’m curious about your thoughts about what is it

about Reddit that’s made the online culture manifest

in this way,

and have you ever tried to embed these lessons

into how you lead Reddit as an organization?

  • Yeah, it’s a great question.

I do believe Reddit is the most human place on the internet.

And actually one of our platform values is, you know,

remember the human,

because Reddit is,

you know, it’s a technology company,

but it is really powered by humans.

And everything on Reddit is driven by the creativity,

the passion, the generosity of users and moderators.

If they’re on the platform,

and the platform,

the values on the platform are totally reflected

in the company.

So for example,

our communities really value open expression and discussion.

They value transparency, they value authenticity,

they value privacy.

And these are all things that as a company,

we also reflect in everything we do.

We built an advertising business,

it’s different than that of our peers.

It deeply respects privacy.

We’ve been able to build a business in harmony

with our values,

we’re very thoughtful about that.

The neutrality,

something we believe in won’t violate that for our business.

So, you know,

I think we have a,

one of the things I love about working at Reddit

and what I love about Reddit the platform,

is that I think it is a very,

very valued driven both company and platform.

And that I think is such a clear North star

in helping to make the right decisions,

that I think has sustained the business for, you know,

17 years at this point.

And I think that that allows us, you know,

you always make mistakes along the way,

but for the most part we have these guiding principles

that allow us to really make sure that we’re always

in line with our community,

who we treat as equal partners in everything we do.

And that’s very, very different than a lot of companies.

Like we have a living animate set of people,

who we consult on product and things that we do

because we value their perspective so much.

That’s pretty uncommon and pretty unusual,

but it is wow end to the way we work.

  • Interesting.

That kind of leads us to my next question which is,

this year in the last few years,

we’ve definitely seen an increased scrutiny

on social media platforms with respect to hate speech.

How do you think about balancing free speech

and harmful content and what key decisions have you taken

that has successfully worked for Reddit through the years?

  • Yeah, I mean look,

health and safety of the platform are incredibly important

to open expression, right?

If it’s not safe, you can’t have that open discussion.

And our mission is to bring community belonging

and empowerment to everyone in the world.

And that means we have to build,

we have to help our users build communities that reflect

these values and respect civil discourse

and human dignity in order to allow

these conversations to happen.

So, you know,

over the years we’ve developed policies and made decisions,

that try to make clear what’s allowed and not allowed

on our platform.

And every platform handles moderation differently.

We’re very, very different,

for those who use Reddit you may know,

it may not be obvious, you know,

but we have these layers.

So obviously we have policies,

most of our peers have site wide policies that we enforce.

What’s different about Reddit is we have signals

from our community up and down,

and down is really valuable

because it tells you if something is offending people

or wrong or deemed unsavory,

and it sinks it in terms of its visibility

and everybody gets a vote and you don’t get any,

you don’t have a follower driven model.

So there’s no equity that makes a single post boosted

above anybody else’s.

It simply votes.

It starts at zero and you either go up or down.

So the idea sinks or swims on itself,

doesn’t matter who wrote it.

It’s very, very different.

And then on top of it,

we have a volunteer group of moderators who get, you know,

help communities write their own rules that sit

on top of our rules.

And they are our partners in moderating all the communities.

So very, very different than our peers.

I think very scalable and very good at handling nuance

so that communities can handle the conversations

and the language the way that makes sense for them, right?

So not a one size fits all,

like manual for the pizza community, the news community,

the Ukraine community.

Like everybody gets to set their rules up

for what works for them.

This has worked for us, you know,

what I’d say is,

it’s worked for us,

we can always do better,

but overall I think this has been scaling really,

really well.

It is one of the toughest problems out there

to balance these new things due to the toughest decisions

that we make,

but the good news is we make them in concert

with our community.

  • Yeah, I’d really like to expand on this idea

of adaptive leadership and reading the signals that you get

from the Reddit community,

whether it’s positive or negative.

So here at Haas one of our values

and one of our defining leadership principles

is to question the status quo.

So when making executive level decisions,

how do you bridge or balance tactical decision making that

can be used or made using a logical framework,

with more creativity?

Which is,

I think is something that ties into your last response,

but I’m curious if you can dig

into that a little bit deeper for us.

  • Yeah, it’s a great question.

I can speak from my reference point, which is I think,

you know, I’m both an intuitive person

but I’m very fact based

and for me it’s very hard to go against my gut.

It is extremely uncomfortable.

So when the two don’t match,

it is really, really difficult and I gotta sleep on it,

and I really have to understand why the two are in conflict.

What I find is that when you’re in a situation,

where you’re growing and building something,

like a new company,

a new product, things are always big.

They’re ill defined.

Strategy is more often than not ill defined.

So that’s where I think experience

and intuition are important to have conviction to move

through a situation where there’s no data, right?

You’re building something

and imagining something that didn’t exist.

In other decisions,

you can be more fact based because it’s more defined,

sometimes, you know,

defined investments in let’s say a piece of technology

or a factory, et cetera,

that’s very different that it may somewhat more

computational and more fact based.

You might lean on that versus intuition.

What I’d say is, you know, in all cases,

I really believe in operating from first principles.

And so for example,

at Reddit we start with our values and what’s right

for Reddit and based on the values,

what are the decisions that we would make.

And that’s a very scalable way to propagate,

a way of thinking to a lot of people who have, you know,

now almost 2000 people who have to make decisions

about product and our business.

I find that when having first principles,

what happens is everybody has clarity

on what the right decision is for the most part.

And you can scale and you aren’t swayed

by immediate tactical,

emotional kind of exogenous variables

because you have a clear sense of,

at the core what your North star is and how this decision

or principle or value will tie to your North star.

  • Very interesting.

I definitely like,

I have read a lot about first principles decision model and

like decision making,

and I think that even applies to life,

how you, you know,

think through big decisions in your life.

That kind of goes to my next question.

Reddit’s ad revenue, as we heard,

has grown to over a hundred million dollars,

and Reddit compared to other social media platforms

has weathered the pandemic really well,

some of them,

some of the others have seen a decline

in user base recently.

So I was curious to know,

what decisions do you think have helped Reddit’s success

in the past few years?

And as a digital marketing media,

expert yourself,

how do you see the interaction between users

and online communities changing in the future?

And as in addition to that,

one last question is,

what keeps you up at night with regard to that

in the future?

  • Okay, let me take them one by one.

Good questions.


Decisions that have helped Reddit success.

One is the one we just talked about.

I think being very clear about our values,

which by the way,

we had but we didn’t codify.

So we actually went through the process of codifying

our values and writing sets of principles,

both internal ones, leadership principles,

privacy principles, you know,

enhancing our values down to a more usable, you know,

set of a guidance.

So clarifying our values and our stance on things like,

privacy principles.

I think from a first principal’s perspective,

has really helped us scale

and define some of the strategies.

Number two,

we didn’t have a business when we joined.

We had to decide on a business model.

Our decision was to build an advertising business first.

We do have an aspiration for,

a consumer driven model.

Ad businesses are scalable, they’re fast,

and we built it in harmony with our platform,

and our values.

And I think that’s worked really well for us

because I do think in, you know,

in the world of digital marketing,

people do care about privacy,

they care about performance,

but they also care about privacy.

They care about who they’re working with, et cetera.

And so that I think has done really well for us.

We have a really differentiated kind of proposition.

And then number three, I’d say,

what Reddit is,

is this amazing place where people have conversations

on every topic.

And if you use Reddit, you know that the quality of content,

there’s just things on Reddit you cannot find anywhere else.

Like I can get advice on my white blunt carrots,

I don’t know what happened with them,

but someone’s gonna help me with that.

And so we never wanna sacrifice content quality for growth,


there are certain types of content that can get growth

and engagement,

but I would call it maybe more disposable.

That’s not what we value.

We value quality content and a lot of it is written

and thoughtful.

So I think we’ve done a good job of balancing those two

things which again, sustains our values.

Okay so second question was interaction

between users and communities.


I think this is an area where to date,

if you look at Reddit,

users in communities are basically having,

altruistic conversations.

They’re helping each other out,

they’re answering questions.

I’m getting help with my gardening or my failed pizza dough,

that is a lot of what’s happening, right?

There’s discussion about news, you know,

counterpoint, et cetera.

Over time I think what will happen,

is communities will become increasingly influential

and powerful and they will have more influence, you know,

from online to offline.

Users and communities and users to users,

can have an exchange of value or transaction

that goes beyond the conversation.

Maybe they hire somebody to go do art for them,

maybe their content is so good

that they might charge for it,

maybe they produce a product, you know,

that is sold to other people in the community.

I think that’s our vision is that

these sub Reddits can go from places

of conversation to maybe places of business

in value exchange.


A third was what’s keeping me up at night,

about all of this.

I would say I worry sometimes

about poorly crafted regulation,

killing the open spirit of the internet.

I think it’s really hard,

to craft regulation for the internet.

And I think there’s some, you know,

thought on doing that.

Not necessarily wrong,

it’s just that we have to be really careful

cause there’s so many different,

there’s so much diversity on the internet.

I think the internet is net an incredibly positive thing

for the world and for people.

And we believe in the open internet at Reddit, you know,

not everybody does,

but I think the open internet is ultimately

about transparency, open access to information,

I think is what was so transformative about the technology.

And anything that puts that in jeopardy would be, I think,

really sad,

and upsetting.

So I think that’s sometimes keeps me up at night.

  • We definitely understand the value of open internet

and having a diversity of perspectives

and voices come into play into the sub Reddits,

and the online communities,

within Reddit.

So right now there is also a known gap

within the tech industry and a need to increase diversity,

equity inclusion and representation of LGBTQ plus,

people of color and other marginalized groups

within the industry.

So thinking about Reddit,

how do you envision Reddit becoming a talent magnet

for these groups?

What is the level of preparedness you think Reddit is

at right now,

in order to welcome these new team members

on board or current team members,

and is there any specific example

within Reddit that you can share with us

in how you’ve done that?

  • Yeah,

I mean this is incredibly important to us

because if you’re a company that serves a very diverse set

of communities,

it is incredibly important to have

a company that reflects that.

Otherwise you just cannot build community

and products for a very large and diverse population.

I think, you know,

if I reflect on where we are in our journey, I think,

the win is having people join your company,

in this case, join Reddit and be successful and thriving.

And that means advancing in their careers and learning,

and probably, you know,

and building communities beyond their immediate kind

of work groups,

and being able to bring their whole selves to work

in a very comfortable, inclusive way.

And you know,

I’d say across those areas we continue to do work.

I’m pretty pleased with the progress we’ve made,

but I think there’s still more that we can do.

So the advancing in careers, you know,

that’s about training and mentorship.

I think we’ve made good progress there.

We can make more progress in, you know,

having people move through our ranks.

And I think our,

we’ve developed a very vibrant community

in our employee resource groups or ERGs.

I mean I’ll just share my personal experience.

We have an LGBTQ new group,

but we have a separate transit Reddit ERG,

which I’m the exec sponsor of.

And one of the reasons why I wanted to work

with our trans ERG is because, you know,

even being queer myself,

I did not feel like I had strong enough cultural fluency,

with our trans community.

And it’s been an incredible experience for me

and I have learned a tremendous amount.

In the first year that I joined the group,

we started evaluating and benchmarking our health benefits,

for example,

and that was a really important piece

of work that led us to create,

additional benefit that was sort of catch,

services needed that weren’t caught

by our healthcare that we could not see until we benchmarked

to our peers and got advice on how to handle this situation.

So there’s been, you know,

a real learning journey for me.

I think for us the community, the ERGs are really important

in making us a better business.

So when we developed our hateful content update,

a couple of years ago,

we consulted our ERGs to get feedback on the policy,

to make sure that we had covered, you know,

in a fulsome way,

all of the concerns that could be out there

and the experiences that they had.

So that was, you know,

that’s a real business value from our ERGs.

You know and I’d say for me personally,

I took a lot of,

I also sponsor our Reddit Asian network.

I took a lot of comfort,

in being able to talk to Asians news

when there was the rise of Asian hate.

And I personally experienced some really offensive

situations in Manhattan.

And it was,

I think we did,

it was really powerful for me to be able to just be open

with people who were experiencing them to

and to feel out to share that with our whole company.

So I think Reddit the platform is diverse.

I think Reddit, the company,

you know, continues to work on diversity and inclusion

and belonging, you know, for ourselves as a company,

it’s not perfect,

but I think we’ve made good progress here.

  • Yeah,

thank you for sharing that with us and being so open

about those experiences.

I think one of the things that we sometimes forget,

when we are busy and in business school is there’s a

whole human and personal component

to the work that we need to do.

So thank you for sharing both sides in terms

of how you approach your work in your career

and also the real human

and life situations that you encounter as an executive.

So this brings me into my next question.

So another defining leadership principle that we have

at Haas is students always,

and sometimes we have to be students always through

difficult situations or through great situations.

So what is the most difficult situation you’ve encountered

in your career thus far,

and how did you navigate it?

And I guess I’ll follow up with that so that we end

on a positive note.

What’s the best thing you’ve encountered so far as well?

  • Good question.

You know,

I went through a pretty major career change,

during business school.

I kind of used business school as my reset button.

And it was,

and I think I was almost despondent

before realizing how to get out of it.

So I was a quantitative undergraduate major,

I didn’t know a lot about jobs.

And I took a job from a book that recruited math

and physics majors to do quantitative finance.

And I was like, okay,

this is a reasonable job.

I have a lot of loans, sounds about right.

Keeps me above water in New York.

And I could do the job.

It was fine.

But years on,

I got deeper into it.

It’s called year four and five.

And I was thinking,

I just don’t wanna do this for the rest of my life.

This is just not me.

I don’t even think I wanna do this level

of quantitative work even though I’m quantitative person.

I think I wanna do something that’s closer to what I love

and care about,

which is something in the consumer world,

I think I wanna be with more creative people.

I think I want to spend more time in teams.

I mean all of this,

but I just didn’t know how to get out of it.

I just felt kind of in that,

and I met someone who said to me, you know,

you can always hit the reset.

There are different ways to hit the reset button.

And one of the ways I’m gonna hit the reset button,

and he was doing this for himself, was like,

I’m gonna go to business school and I’m just gonna use that

to hit the reset button.

And I said, well,

I wanna do that.

And so you know,

there’s just something like October and I did it.

I took GMAD applied to school

and did that.

And when I got to business school,

one of the things I did that summer,

that summer for internships is I didn’t take any

of the standard internships.

I got paid hourly to work at HBO,

moved to LA,

I just wanted to try what it was like to work

in the entertainment industry and like production,

production fans, like something very different.

And it was the best thing that I ever did.

I just started a learning process for myself

and you know, obviously after business school

I realized I didn’t know anything about businesses.

I worked at McKinsey for a little bit,

but only in media entertainment.

I deleted my financial background in the database

so that people only knew that I worked at HBO.

And I just sort of forcibly pushed myself

into learning about consumer and media.

And what I got out of that was a real conviction that like,

you know what,

I can get myself out of anything.

Like I had just gone down a route that I really didn’t want.

And I sort of just, now I often say like,

I’m exactly where I wanna be and if I fell

into a place where I wasn’t,

I just feel like I could do it again.

And I just say that to all of you

because you’re not gonna make perfect decisions,

you might end up in that position,

and you can totally pivot yourself toward something

that you care about.

And that was probably, you know,

the most difficult kind of pivot that I’ve had in,

in my career.

And I think,

there’s a moment there that I just didn’t know what to do.

So I just kind of figure it out.

The best I’ve had so many bests I,

the reason why I say that is because,

so much of the best things are,

I think when you set a goal and you wanna meet it

and you meet, you know,

you round the corner to the end of the year when you said,

look I said I’m gonna do this,

and at the end of the year you’re like,

wow we did this.

And it’s not just you,

it’s you and the team that you built to do that.

And it’s like the best feeling.

I’m a pretty goal-oriented person.

I love like being able to deliver

what I said I was gonna do,

even when it was just like,

a thing on a piece of paper or an idea.

And I find that incredibly rewarding.

And so that shows up, you know,

hopefully every year,

but not always.

But you find those in pockets all the time.

So that’s always a joy for me.

It gives me a lot,

a lot of energy.

  • Thank you so much for your time and

for sharing your wisdom with us.

I think we are gonna open to Q and A now.

  • Thank you so much Jen,

this has been so great.

We will open it up to Q and A.

If you’d like to ask a question,

you can go to the mics and speak into the mic,

that way people who might be listening to this online

can hear the question.

So thank you again, for this.

Do we have a first question?

  • Hi, Jen.

  • Oh and please identify yourself.

  • My name’s Peter.

I just wanted to say, you know,

well for you and the Reddit community, thank you so much.

Like Reddit’s really been kind of a rock for me

these past 10 years and it’s just like provided a platform

for me to explore all my personal interests,

meet some of my most significant relationships in my life,

including my partner of like four and a half years.

Just many great things and a lot of times spent and wasted.

So on that note,

what are some let’s just say like motivating trends,

data, you know,

like observations you’ve had in the past few years

on how like Reddits really fostering this,

community inclusiveness and helping people form

relationships they might not have

been able to make otherwise.

  • Yeah,

well thanks for sharing that.

It’s always so meaningful to hear that and that’s what,

that’s why I come to work

because that we can have that kind of impact.

You know, if I look at the last couple of years,

it’s actually been fascinating.

Like, you know,

if you just go to the beginning of the pandemic,

we had this R slash coronavirus community,

that in 2019 it started to grow by January was,

maybe I think a half a million people by April was three

or four million people.

And if you remember at the beginning of the pandemic,

we were getting conflicting advice from lots

of different places because it was just

an unknown situation.

Do you wear a mask,

If or not, is it hand washing,

is it airborne, et cetera.

And I found that to be one of the most helpful rules

on Reddit where people were just sharing information,

being critical of information as well,

but trying to stick through a lot of uncertainty.

And I thought that was incredibly helpful.

We saw people flock to that.

But then beyond that, you know,

we went through this period where everybody was at home,

and I think really seeking community and feeling lonely

and trying to find other people to just interact

with and we saw this like flourish,

people were dealing with like, hey,

I’m home with roommates and we don’t get along,

what do we do?


I’m home with kids and I’m homeschooling, you know,

I’m doing remote schooling, help me.

What does that look like?

Hey, I now have to cook for, you know,

every single meal each day,

help how do I batch cook?

I mean it was really incredible to see,

I think that humanity emerge

and you know,

and then I think that’s continued.

A lot of people discovered Reddit during that time.

And then if you look at the last year,

I mean I think one of the things that’s wild

about Reddit is like,

we have everything from Wall Street Vets,

which are people, you know,

at the heart of it I think it is a group of people

who wanna participate in the financial system,

and are trying to help other people participate

in financial markets,

which can be kind of opaque and difficult

for people to participate in,

to anti work, right?

Which is a different philosophy in thinking

about the workplace and work life balance

and kind of engaged in the workplace.

And we have that whole range of everything in between.

Those are really two, you know,

you could say very different but very big trends that we see

on the platform.

What I would say about Reddit is we tend to see things,

very early,

because it’s a safe space for people to explore new ideas

and find other people who have that idea.

And then that becomes,

it sort of trickles from Reddit into the mainstream.

We saw this with gender fluidity.

It’s the discussion started on Reddit so long ago

and I think this then become, has become, you know,

a change in our general society and discussion.

But it really started so long ago on Reddit

and we have so many of these threads.

EVs another one early thread, early believers in Tesla,

decentralization in crypto,

really early believers in blockchain.

So I think Reddit is,

is really special in terms of calling cultural trends early

and then also creating a place where people can just find

other like-minded people, you know,

give them solace and comfort and belonging.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for that.

Do we have other questions?

Oh, okay.

  • Hello,

my name is Anna and I’m a current undergraduate

here at Berkeley.

I’ve been using Reddit since May of 2017.

So over the past few years I’ve really been able to see,

Reddit grow as a community.

Something I’ve noticed about red-

different pieces of artwork.

So on a shared canvas,

I was wondering how has this idea of people coming together,

to like achieve a common goal,

like helped strategize Reddit’s growth in the future?

  • That’s a great question.

I can tell you really understand Reddit,

our place I think is, you know,

it’s this example where everybody,

you get a pixel and you basically make this collective piece

of art.

In order to do it, you have to coordinate with other people.

So if you wanna make a Canadian flag,

you gotta find the other people who own the cells

in order to tell them which ones to make red or white

for example.

And it’s what we call positive brigading.

Like brigading is, you know,

mostly a negative term online,

but it’s a positive form of brigading

where you all come together and actually build something.

I think we don’t do enough of it.

I think when you,

that what you have just tapped into is something, you know,

we do our last place and that idea once a year

on April Fools, we usually have something fun.

I think communities do it themselves in terms of, you know,

Wall Street Vets as an example.

And I think, and you know,

if you look at what happened in R slash unemployment,

when folks were losing jobs at the beginning of coronavirus

and trying to navigate unemployment benefits, they all,

you know, helped each other get access.

So I do think it happens,

but I don’t think we foster it enough.

So it’s something that’s really,

it’s actually on our minds a lot.

It’s like how do we,

how do we create more of the conditions

for what we call like, you know, positive brigading.

It’s a really astute observation.

  • Thank you so much.

I really appreciate your answer.

  • Hello,

thanks again for, you know,

doing this and participating here.

My name’s Bevack, he him,

my question is a little personal one,

I think you started at Reddit took new position in 2018,


Right in the cuff of the Covid and know Wall Street Vets

and everything.

And you had to navigate and kind of go in the defense

in certain aspect with regulations

and a lot of other things.

And you had such a macro,

like there’s a cultural forces

in play that you alluded to earlier.

And there’s other,

basically as a COO you have to look up,

pretty much a wide area of things, right?

And then you’re trying to go, you know,

public and sometimes this year hopefully, right?

And you have to go on the offense there

and try to see how to, you know,

navigate the financial implications and come, you know,

monetize and all that.

As as an MBA grad or as an MBA student and first year myself

and an avid follower of R slash MBA,

how do you,

or what advice do you think,

like what advice would you give to us who is aspiring to be,

you know,

in a leadership position someday

and would need to have that level

of macro and micro understanding of, you know,

the finance, the culture, all different aspects, right?

And what can we do right now to kind of get a head start

and know how to prepare ourselves?

  • Yeah.

Well it’s a good question.

All for a couple thoughts.

One is I talk to a lot of people,

and I don’t just talk to senior people or people

in my industry.

I talk to a lot of different people outside my industry,

people on our teams,

people at different tenures.

I find all of those conversations incredibly informative

on everything from,

what’s happening in the workplace to macro,

you know,

view of how consumers are feeling and formulating my view

on you know,

maybe what the outlook might be for our business.

So I say talk to a lot of people cause

it just continues to give you perspective.

I also read a lot and I read a lot again,

outside of business books, et cetera,

big philosophy, history.

I find it incredibly helpful because there’s always nuggets

and ideas in there,

that you pick from that help you in your day to day.

You’ll be surprised, you know,

I’m reading reread Plato the Republic,

and there were just things in there about misinformation.

I was like,

this is fascinating that that’s a really helpful nugget for,

you know, to think about.

So that’s that’s the second thing I would say.

And the third I would say is if you put yourself always

in a learning mindset,

and just assume like,

I have so much to learn about anything,

you will find that you can learn from like anything,

those conversations, from books,

from anything that you see that improves how you are,

if you’re willing to question what you do today and try to

make it better by bringing in other pieces,

I find that incredibly helpful.

And I’ve observed that a lot of the leaders that I admire,

they’re really learning personalities.

They are willing to question everything they’ve done,

everything they believe,

everything that they are today,

based on other ideas that they’ve taken in

and try to improve themselves.

And I find that incredibly helpful

because then you can evolve as a leader, versus, you know,

sort of stagnate or be too settled

in your ways and I think companies and business,

it’s always evolving,

so it helps you kind of move with that.

  • Great, thank you.

So basically student always.

  • Always.

  • I thank you so much Jen.

My name is Kai,

I pronounce as he him

and I’m a first year MBA student.

So you know, there’s always rumors around

about Reddit going to public and you know,

there’s maybe confidential information there

and you don’t have to reveal that,

but I like to see, you know,

what could be the biggest challenge to remain right,

in Reddit the most human place on the planet

if it goes public.

Thank you.

  • Yeah, I mean I,

I don’t see being private or public at odds

with Reddit’s values.

I mean you could argue that being a public company

where you have to share your financials publicly

is more transparent and in line with our values

and transparency and openness is actually one of our values.

So actually I could see it as a actually a great alignment.

This goes back to what I mentioned before.

I think our values in being first principally,

first principle oriented.

If you’re first principle oriented,

whether you’re public or private

or those kinds of things won’t matter,

because you’ll always make the same decisions that are right

for your mission.

And I think that’s a good foundation of that,

so I don’t worry about it.

People always worry, you know,

will companies change, et cetera.

I think it depends how, you know,

how well you know yourself.

  • Thank you.

  • I think we have time for one last question.

  • Okay, awesome.

It’s quick.

Thank you so much Jen.

My name is Colby,

pronouns, she her hers,

I’m a first year MBA.

Following up on your point about how you read a lot,

what’s a book you’ve read recently,

that changed your perspective on something?

  • Good question.

I mean, like I said,

I take nuggets from everything.

I reread Plato’s Republic,

which I thought was really interesting about some

of the four worlds of,

you know, more democratic systems.

I read the Life and Death of American Cities,

which really left a great impression on me

by Jane Jacobs who,

you know, and if you’re from New York,

she was the woman who stopped the free Robert Moses

from putting a freeway through Washington Square Park

where I lived near.

And what that book taught me is,

it basically said you can’t over architect humans

and cities,

cities are living organisms that you cannot over architect,

as much as you wanna anticipate second, third,

fourth order effects from developing a freeway

or developing an area.

And that the best cities are resilient

because they’re organic

and people just know what to do and put things

in the places that they need.

And I think that was very informative

for me cause it made me think about Reddit,


How much should we manicure and guide,

versus provide open tools for people to create

and allow human creativity to thrive

like the way cities develop.

So that was a very profound book for me although I,

I read it just because I live in the village.

So that was my, you know,

surprise takeaway from it.

  • Thank you.

  • Well that was a great last question.

thank you so much, Jen.

That was such an inspirational hour.

I felt like I learned so much from listening to you

and I also wanna thank a lot Via and Joe

for their excellent questions.

Thank you very much.

This has been wonderful.

(audience applauds)

  • Thank you for having me.

(audience applauds)

  • Okay.
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