Reddit Acquires Fan-Made Secret Santa Site, RedditGifts

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After spending far too much time with far too little support from their owners at Condé Nast, Reddit is on a bit of a roll lately. They’ve gone on a handful of hiring sprees this year, moved into a bigger, better office… and now, they’ve made their first acquisition: RedditGifts.

For the non-Redditors out there (yeah, yeah, Narwhal bacons at Midnight and all that), RedditGifts is a user-to-user gift exchange service first launched by Redditor kickme444 for Reddit’s record-breaking Secret Santa back in 2009.

In each “Secret Santa” event, Redditors are automatically matched with one other Redditor, and are then tasked with figuring out something awesome to send that person’s way. Some lurk through their recipient’s comments for clues as to what they might like; others just make something neat and hope it works out. There are, of course, horror stories of people scamming the process for free crap and other tomfoolery — but for the most part, everyone plays friendly and it works out well.

Following the success of the first Secret Santa round (which pulled around 4,500 participants), RedditGifts followed up with a second in 2010, this time with over 17,000 gift-givers. Looking to keep the fun going outside of December, they also organized the totally secular and aptly named “Arbitrary Day”, which they describe as “a celebration of nothing in particular”. All gift exchanges combined, just shy of 43,000 people have participated, with around $1.5 million (plus a ton of man-hours, as so many of the gifts are handmade) spent on gifts.

So, why the acquisition? What’s in it for Reddit? In short, RedditGifts’ two-person team just couldn’t afford to keep maintaining the project while also working their day jobs.. so now RedditGifts is their day job. Reddit gets to keep an awesome, well-established, largely-self-driven source of community bonding, and the RedditGifts team gets to do what they were doing before… but for money. Everyone wins!

RedditGifts will continue to operate under the same two-person team (Dan “kickme444″ McComas and Jessica “5days” Moreno), remain on the same domain, and neither will be involved with the daily operations of Reddit proper. The only things expected to change: RedditGifts will eventually go opensource (Reddit already is), and the whole thing should lead to better integration (namely, easier sign-ups) in the longrun.

No word yet if any money (beyond salaries, benefits and the like) actually traded hands for this acquisition, or if this is more of an acquisition-by-hire — either way, it’s not a bad deal for a project initially launched overnight on a whim.