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Reddit COO Jen Wong discusses the state of the platform at CES 2021

Regardless of where in the world something is happening, you can be assured it’s also happening on Reddit, one of the most popular websites in internet history — and one that is continuing to grow and evolve. Andre Stone and Ariana Escalante spoke with Jen Wong, Reddit chief operating officer and CES 2021 panelist, as part of Digital Trends’ comprehensive coverage of this year’s show.

“2020 showed us what’s really special about the core of Reddit,” Wong says. “People come to the communities they trust to be informed on the most important decisions, and things they care about. And this [past] year, there was a lot to care about.” What that really showed, she says, is that “online communities are a critical part of the future.”

And in times of constant change, the format of Reddit shines, she says. Because content is user-generated, it is able to respond and adapt instantly to whatever is happening in the world. Reddit is also formatted to have various “subreddits” of specific topics, from baking, to breaking political news, to favorite TV shows. “I personally spend a lot of time on the food boards,” Wong says, referring to a few of the hobbies she’s picked up during quarantine, such as making sourdough bread and pizzas.

So what does 2021 hold in store? Wong says a few interesting things are changing. “One thing that happened this year is strangers hanging out. We saw that a lot on Reddit,” she said. Site users meet, talk, and share in various subreddits, and then at the end of the day just go on about their lives. “This kind of real-time experience in hanging out was a behavior we saw,” she added.

Last year at CES, Wong encouraged brands to grow by “focusing on love.” Has that message changed at all over the past year? “I’m still in the same place,” she says. “The most positive and heartwarming things that happened on Reddit this past year was people helping people.”

Wong notes that while CES 2021 is different this year, and she’ll miss being able to attend in person to build and develop more relationships, the heart of the show still forges on. This past year, “we saw humanity emerge day-to-day, minute-by-minute [on Reddit]. And the heart of that was still love,” she said.

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