Reddit signs AI training deal with Google – and why OpenAI's Altman could be the winner

IPO docs drop showing just who has a stake in the forum

Reddit will provide content posted on its forums to Google, which will use it to train and update AI chatbots in a deal reportedly worth $60 million a year that could – oddly enough – deliver big bucks to OpenAI boss Sam Altman.

Following rumors of the deal, the Reddit-Google pact was confirmed on Thursday, and will see the Gmail giant pay to access Reddit's Data API, which offers real-time access to posts and comments created by users of the famously freewheeling forum site. Reddit started charging for access to the API last year – a tactic that appears to have paid off.

It was assumed at the time that Reddit put a paywall around its API to not only make third-party apps cough up or get lost, but to also cash in on the AI training craze.

"With the Reddit Data API, Google will now have efficient and structured access to fresher information, as well as enhanced signals that will help us better understand Reddit content and display, train on, and otherwise use it in the most accurate and relevant ways", wrote Google's Rajan Patel, a VP of engineering with Google Search, on Thursday.

Reddit is seen by some as an excellent source of training data for AI chatbots. Conversations on the site contain millions of examples of netizens writing in chatty tones that machines can analyze to learn how to do likewise. Other top large language model developers – like OpenAI, for example – have been scraping links, at least, from Reddit for years for pages to harvest info from.

Google is not alone in reaching for its wallet. OpenAI has agreed to pay millions of dollars per year to access news articles from the Associated Press and German publisher Axel Springer SE, but also faces a copyright lawsuit from the New York Times for scraping its content without making a payment.

Google's partnership with Reddit, however, doesn't mean the Big Tech biz will start paying for all the data it uses to train its models. "This expanded partnership does not change Google's use of publicly available, crawlable content for indexing, training, or display in Google products," Patel added.

IPO and an Altman connection

Reddit's deal with Google was announced on the same day the forum site filed for an initial public offering.

The site's prospectus reveals that "entities affiliated with Sam Altman" hold 8.7 percent of shares already issued (and, in news that will no doubt prick up some ears in Washington, Chinese web giant Tencent holds 11 percent).

It is unclear whether Altman's holding is in a personal capacity or somehow tied to his day job at OpenAI. Reddit is expected to debut on the New York Stock Exchange next month.

Google's deal with Reddit represents a new revenue stream, which should in theory make Altman's stake more valuable.

Reddit reported $804 million in annual revenue for 2023 – an increase of 20 percent from the $666.7 million in the previous year, according to CNBC. Most of its revenue comes from online advertising – it plans to boost sales using AI-powered search.

Reddit is one of the most visited websites on the internet. It was founded in 2005 by entrepreneurs Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, with the late computer whizz Aaron Swartz coming on board soon after, and boasts 73 million daily active users.

The Register will update this story as more information becomes available. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like