Why Conde Nast Would Cash in on Reddit’s Karma

During his whistle stop tour of the web yesterday, Congressman Anthony Weiner made sure to hit all the big social sites: Twitter, Facebook and…Reddit.

Over the last year the social news site has quadrupled its traffic, breaking into the big time with a billion page views in the month of February. The site’s newfound success was quickly followed by reports, from Peter Kafka at All Things D, that parent company Conde Nast might be considering a sale for as high as $200 million.

Conde demurred officially, “We love our Reddit asset, and it’s a core asset for us, and it’s getting more valuable every day,” Steve Newhouse, who runs digital operations for  Conde’s parent company, Advance Publications, told Kafka.

The second part of that sentence is certainly true. Betabeat chatted with a few insiders, who said a sale made perfect sense a this stage in the game. “Conde has never understood Reddit,” said one source familiar with Conde’s digital operations. ” They acquired it out of fear that they were missing the boat on the social web, which was true. With the site’s current momentum and the heat around tech companies, the thinking is that now is a time to get a great price.”

But the first half of Newhouse’s statement rings hallow. Despite the explosive growth at Reddit, there is little synergy between the social news site and the magazine giant. “Reddit has this incredibly passionate community, but it’s not Conde’s audience and certainly not a place where they can sell the kind of luxury ads they specialize in,” said a former staffer at CondeNet. “My marketing director probably spent about ten minutes a week thinking about Reddit.”

Reddit operations manager and senior product developer Jeremy Edberg attacked Kafka’s report, writing that, “His article is a complete fabrication. He should be ashamed to call himself a journalist.” But over the last month Reddit has last two of its three developers, meaning it’s back to a skeleton crew manning the ever more crowded ship. If Conde did spin off Reddit, it would probably be healthier for both parties, considering the venture capital a fast growing site like Reddit could raise in this environment to expand its staff.

Why Conde Nast Would Cash in on Reddit’s Karma