Reddit has confirmed that it has raised $150 million from Tencent and $150 million in Series D funding at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation and a $3 billion post-money valuation, according to TechCrunch.
The investment from Tencent comes with some controversy because Reddit is blocked in China as part of the Great Firewall censorship initiative. Other sites that are blocked include Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, Reddit heavily advocates for the freedom of speech on the Internet.
Reddit is currently hitting 330 million users per month across a wide range of content including politics, entertainment, technology, sports and controversial posts involving conspiracy theories and adult content. Users can vote for content using the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons. More popular content is surfaced to the top.
While it seems unlikely that Tencent and other investors would be able to control what gets posted on Reddit, it did not stop a number of users from protesting it. Ever since it was rumored that Tencent was going to invest in Reddit, a number of Reddit users posted images of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Chinese authorities also blocked references to the date of Tiananmen Square Massacre such as “4 June” and “six four.”
Users also often photos of Winnie The Pooh to poke fun of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s appearance. For example, Reddit user ChristopherVDV posted an image of Winnie the Pooh criticizing the investment. “Given that Reddit just took a $150 million investment from a Chinese censorship powerhouse, I thought it would be nice to post this picture of Winnie-The-Pooh before our new glorious overlords decide we cannot post it anymore,” says the post — which was voted up over 37,000 times.
The Chinese government uses a number of technical measures to block foreign Internet companies. And China-based messaging apps like WeChat (owned by Tencent) and other social media services are restricted. And content feature certain keywords are blocked if they criticize the government.
According to the BBC, Taipei-based independent technology analyst Sam Reynolds said that Tencent’s investment should not have censorship risks for Reddit. “Tencent has invested in hundreds of companies and there’s been little involvement or interest from China’s state apparatus,” said Reynolds via BBC.