Redditcoin quietly killed off and lead developer fired

Reddit Stickers

Social news site Reddit has quietly abandoned its plans to build its own version of the bitcoin cryptocurrency, letting go of its lead developer and shutting the project down.

The move comes after the departure of Reddit chief executive, Yishan Wong, the main cheerleader internally of the cryptocurrency effort, quickly dubbed “Redditcoin”.

Announced in September 2014 as part of a fundraising round that raised $50m from VC firms including Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, Redditcoin was a key part of an audacious plan by Wong to give part of the company’s equity back to users.

Wong wrote in a blogpost: “The investors in this round have proposed to give 10% of their shares back to the community, in recognition of the central role the community plays in Reddit’s ongoing success.”

At the time, the company had already advertised for a cryptocurrency engineer, and eventually hired developer Ryan X Charles from San Franciscan bitcoin company BitPay. The initial goal of Redditcoin was to create a new cryptocurrency, backed by shares in Reddit and distributed to users of the site.

Ryan Charles began developing an implementation of the bitcoin software that aimed to run in-browser and let users of the website trade any cryptocurrency, including bitcoin as well as popular forks such as dogecoin and litecoin, using just the website.

Just two months later, Wong resigned from Reddit after “a disagreement with the board about a new office,” according to Reddit investor Sam Altman, who briefly acted as CEO after Wong’s departure.

With Wong gone, Charles was left leaderless at Reddit. “While Yishan was CEO, I reported directly to him, as the lead engineer of the sadly never-to-be cryptocurrency engineering wing of Reddit,” he reported after his departure. “When Yishan left, I reported to no one. I had no formal meetings with anyone, and the only communication I had with other people at the company was informal.”

“I figured the worst thing that could happen at Reddit was that we could launch something and it would fail,” Charles wrote. “What actually happened was that we launched nothing and I got fired. In only four months. This was worse than the worst outcome I thought was possible.”

After being sacked, Charles said on Twitter that “cryptocurrency is not a part of Reddit’s near-term plans. This is unfortunate, but understandable.”

“I’m fairly confident cryptocurrency will return to Reddit in the coming years… but it will have to wait a while for things to calm down,” he said in a separate Reddit post.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Monday 2nd February 2015 16.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010