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As Reddit gears up for an IPO, Jen Wong is holding the reins

“I’m exactly where I want to be,” says Reddit COO Jen Wong, who tops Fast Company’s third-annual Queer 50 list this year.

As Reddit gears up for an IPO, Jen Wong is holding the reins

After months of speculation about a potential IPO, a confidential filing in December confirmed that Reddit is poised to go public this year. If and when that happens—following an eventual public filing that makes the IPO official and discloses financial details—it’ll be the culmination of Jen Wong’s years-long effort to transform the 16-year-old social media platform into a viable business.

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When Wong took over operations in 2018, fresh off a stint as the COO of Time Inc., Reddit’s ad business was so nascent that the company still manually approved every ad. She was tasked with making Reddit more attractive to advertisers—a tall order given its perception at the time as a hub for hate speech and online abuse. It’s a testament to her work that advertisers are no longer as concerned about whether their ads might get placed next to unsavory content on Reddit. “We don’t really run into that conversation much anymore,” Wong told Fast Company last year. “We’ve invested a lot in education and features that give advertisers comfort and control.”

Alongside Reddit’s investment in content moderation, which included banning some of its most noxious subreddits, Wong’s impact on the bottom line has been undeniable: In 2019, Reddit crossed $100 million in annual ad revenue, and by last year, the business was earning those ad dollars in just one quarter. In late 2021, Reddit was reportedly on track to exceed $350 million in ad revenue. That’s all despite a dip in revenue during 2020, when the pandemic took its toll on many ad-supported businesses. (Due to the quiet period following its confidential filing, Reddit and Wong could not comment on any business metrics.)

As Wong has revamped the ad business, Reddit has also drawn a larger audience and evolved in other ways. In late 2020, the company disclosed that it had 52 million daily users, up 44% year over year. During the pandemic, Reddit made headlines for its pivotal role in the GameStop stock frenzy and also acquired TikTok competitor Dubsmash. After multiple sizable rounds of funding in 2021—which spiked Reddit’s valuation to more than $10 billion—the company has invested significantly in hiring over the last year, with an eye toward expanding internationally.

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It might seem surprising now, especially on the cusp of Reddit’s IPO, but Wong didn’t always expect to be in this position–to not only be in a leadership role, but steering a company as one of its most senior leaders. “Is it something I saw myself in? No,” she says of being a leader. “I do love it. But it was an evolution.”

While Wong can’t comment on when Reddit is going public or what it feels like to reach this milestone, she can say that at this point in her career, it seems like everything has clicked into place. “I feel so fortunate,” she says. “I’m having so much fun. I’m exactly where I want to be.”

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