“If you want to succeed you’ve got to be okay to just lose control.” ~Alexis Ohanian
One of the best-known social news sites today is reddit. Classmates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, who met during freshman move-in day at the University of Virginia, founded the site in 2005—just after graduation. Junior year, Huffman (who majored in computer science) and Ohanian (a business and history major) attended a talk by Paul Graham called “How to Start a Startup.”
Eventually, Ohanian and Huffman attended Y Combinator, a seed stage venture firm, and came up with the idea for reddit. In its first year and a half, the social-voting website amassed tens of thousands of users—an incredible success for two such young entrepreneurs. Just sixteen months after its founding, reddit had become popular enough to garner the attention of major publisher Condé Nast, which purchased the site for $20 million in October 2006. Today, the site has over 80 million monthly users around the world.
Alexis Ohanian stayed on at reddit for five years, eventually leaving to pursue other endeavors, including volunteering for Kiva.org, starting social enterprise “Breadpig,” and authoring a book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made not Managed. The book, published in October 2013, debuted as a WSJ best seller.
Today, Alexis “invests and advises in over seventy tech startups,” including Y Combinator, which gave reddit its original $100K in seed money. He has given a TED talk, was named for two years in a row on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, and has been an activist in the fight against SOPA and PIPA.
But perhaps what’s most amazing is that Alexis Ohanian only just recently turned 30. He’s set the bar high for himself, but, for now, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He’s certainly one young entrepreneur to keep an eye on.