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We’ve reached ‘peak social media,’ says Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian

Max Zahn

The blistering growth of some social media sites is over for good, says Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

We’ve reached “peak social media,” Ohanian told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

“I think platforms that are built around following individual persons sort of have reached their saturation point,” he said.

Ohanian did not specify the social media platforms to which he referred, though Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram fit his description of sites centered on following individuals.

In January, Facebook reported quarter-over-quarter daily active user and monthly active user growth of 1.8% for its core product plus Messenger, slower growth than prior quarters. Its year-over-year daily active user and monthly active user growth was 8.6%.

Facebook also announced that it would phase out the reporting of user growth figures for core Facebook plus Messenger, opting instead to share combined user information across its various properties, such as core Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 12: Twitter CEO and Co Founder, Jack Dorsey addresses students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), on November 12, 2018 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

More people retreating to smaller communities

The trend has been worse for Twitter. In February, the company announced it had lost 5 million monthly active users over the final months of 2018, dropping its total to 321 million monthly users, the lowest figure in two years. The company also said it will stop reporting user growth or losses.

Ohanian attributes the trend to the shifting tastes of users who prefer intimate, communally-focused alternatives.

“We’re seeing more and more people retreat back to smaller communities or groups, whether it's a group chat of all your college friends or whether it's going to communities,” says Ohanian, the founder of venture capital firm Initialized Capital.

If true, the prediction may bode well for Reddit, the social media platform that Ohanian co-founded.

Ohanian described the site as “a network of communities—tens of thousands of them—for people to discuss whatever is most important, and vote up the best stuff and vote down the stuff that folks don't like.”

At Reddit, MAUs increased from 250 million in November 2017 to 330 million last April, a 32% leap that pushed its monthly user count ahead of Twitter’s.

“We're going to see more and more social platforms emerge that are built around these communities of interest as opposed to following individuals,” Ohanian said.

Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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