Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Reddit strikes $60M deal allowing Google to train AI models on its posts, unveils IPO plans

SAN FRANCISCO — Reddit has struck a deal with Google that allows the search giant to use posts from the online discussion site for training its artificial intelligence models and to improve products such as online search.

The arrangement, announced Thursday and valued at roughly $60 million, will also give Reddit access to Google AI models for improving its site search and other features.

Separately, the San Francisco-based company announced plans for its initial public offering Wednesday. In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Reddit said it reported net income of $18.5 million — its first profit in two years — in the October-December quarter on revenue of $249.8 million. The company said it aims to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol RDDT.

The Google deal is a big step for Reddit, which relies on sometimes contentious volunteer moderators to run its sprawling array of freewheeling topic-based discussions. Those moderators have publicly protested earlier Reddit decisions, most recently blacking out much of the site for days when Reddit announced plans to start charging many third-party apps for access to its content.

But it’s also highly significant for Google, which is hungry for access to human-written material it can use to train its AI models to improve their “understanding” of the world and thus their ability to provide relevant answers to questions in a conversational format.

Google praised Reddit in a news release, calling it a repository for “an incredible breadth of authentic, human conversations and experiences” and stressing that the search giant primarily aims “to make it even easier for people to benefit from that useful information.”

Google played down its interest in using Reddit data to train its AI systems, instead emphasizing how it will make it “even easier” for users to access Reddit information, such as product recommendations and travel advice by funneling it through Google products.

It described this process as “more content-forward displays of Reddit information” that aim to benefit both Google’s tools and to make it easier for people to participate on Reddit.

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