Behind the deal, volume III: Wired buys Reddit

As TechCrunch reported and Reddit announced this morning, Condé Nast bought social bookmarking site Reddit. I talked to Wired Digital general manager Kourosh Karimkhany, who will directly oversee Reddit as a Wired property.

Condé Nast first experimented with Reddit by collaborating on a small project, lipstick.com. It's a gossip site built on the same voting and bookmarking system used on Reddit. (The site is still "doing well," says Kourosh, who's not sure what will happen to it now.)

"They were a little bit skeptical of us," says Kourosh of Reddit's four-man team. "But we liked what they were doing," and Condé Nast was "pleasantly surprised" with the outcome.

The two companies started talking seriously this summer, he says. "I went to their Boston pad, we played some video games." And this month they wrapped up the buyout.

Wired Digital plans to expand Reddit, continuing the flagship Reddit.com site while "blowing out new products." He cites one deal with the Washington Post and its Slate site, made before Wired bought Reddit. Condé Nast also wants to integrate Reddit with some of its own titles.

"We want to distribute the Reddit technology widely throughout the net," says Kourosh — meaning Wired wants buyers to license the Reddit system. The company wants Reddit to "just focus on building out," which may involve adding to the current staff of four (all co-founders), who will all move from Boston to San Francisco and work at Wired's office.

Kourosh dodged one question — when I asked (twice) whether Wired had considered the more popular social news site Digg, he would only say, "Reddit was the right choice. We liked Reddit's open attitude. Came down to that."

Sounds like something went on — one could speculate that Wired got turned off by Digg's price or realized founder Kevin Rose wouldn't budge from his own plans for his site (which apparently don't include third-party licensing like Reddit's). When I asked Rose if Condé Nast had approached Digg, he declined to comment, saying his company doesn't respond to rumors.