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Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg


China’s Tencent Invests in Reddit, Sparking Free Speech Protests

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China’s Tencent Invests in Reddit, Sparking Free Speech Protests

A pedestrian walks past Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s new under construction headquarters in Shenzhen, China,.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Reddit Inc. said Monday that it raised $300 million from investors. It was one backer, in particular, that drew condemnation from members of Reddit’s online community.

Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. was among the investors in the round, which values the link-sharing website at $3 billion. A report last week by technology website TechCrunch signaled Tencent’s interest.

In the following days, users posted links to Reddit depicting imagery banned by Chinese censors. They include video of the Tiananmen Square protest and pictures comparing President Xi Jinping to the portly Winnie the Pooh. Reddit users swarmed several of the submissions, pushing them to the list of most popular posts.

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Reddit Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman Interview

Steve Huffman

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Steve Huffman, the chief executive officer of Reddit, said Tencent’s expertise in video games is part of what drew the two companies together. “Video games are one category that’s really popular on Reddit,” Huffman told CNBC.

Spokeswomen for Reddit and Tencent declined to comment on the outcry from users. Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments and Sequoia Capital were among the other investors in the round.

Reddit has an outspoken community that has used the company’s own website to protest against its actions in the past. The site has long been banned in China, according to researcher The free speech campaign by Reddit users may ensure that remains the case for some time.

(Updates to show Tencent declined to comment in the fifth paragraph.)