Alexis Ohanian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alexis Ohanian
Alexis Ohanian 1-17-2012.jpg
Ohanian protesting SOPA and PIPA, 2012
Born (1983-04-24) April 24, 1983 (age 33)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Residence San Francisco, California[1]
Alma mater University of Virginia
Known for entrepreneurship, startups, social marketing, open internet activism
Notable work Reddit, Initialized Capital, Small Empires, Without Their Permission
Partner(s) Serena Williams (e. 2016)

Alexis Ohanian (born April 24, 1983) is an Armenian-American internet entrepreneur, activist, investor, and best-selling author born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City and based in San Francisco, best known for co-founding the social news website Reddit, co-founding the early stage venture capital firm Initialized Capital, helping launch the travel search website Hipmunk, and starting the social enterprise Breadpig. He was a partner at Y Combinator, and is also the executive chairman of Reddit.

Early life[edit]

Ohanian was born to Chris Ohanian, an Armenian-American who came to the US as a refugee and whose family were Armenian Genocide survivors,[2][3] and a German-born mother, Anke, who worked as an au pair and overstayed her visa when she fell in love with Ohanian's father.[4] He went to Howard High School in Ellicott City, Maryland where he gave the student address for his graduating class in 2001.[5]


After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005 with degrees in commerce and history, Ohanian started, with co-founder Steve Huffman. Reddit initially received funding from Y Combinator after Ohanian and Huffman were rejected for their initial idea, My Mobile Menu. They joined the first batch of Summer 2005 and were later acquired by Condé Nast in 2006. Ohanian continued to work closely with Reddit as a member of its Board of Directors. He returned to Reddit full-time with his co-founder Steve Huffman on July 10, 2015 to lead the now-independent company.[6][7][8]

In 2007, Ohanian launched Breadpig, an "uncorporation" that produces geeky merchandise and gives the proceeds to charity. He no longer is involved in the day-to-day operations of Breadpig.[9]

In 2009, Ohanian spoke at TED about a whale named Mister Splashy Pants.[10] After leaving Reddit in 2010, Ohanian spent 3 months working in microfinance as a Kiva fellow in Yerevan, Armenia.[11] Ohanian helped launch travel search website Hipmunk in 2010, and now acts as an advisor.[12] In June 2010, Ohanian announced the launch of his company Das Kapital Capital, which focuses on startup investing, advising and consulting.[citation needed]

Ohanian was named the "Ambassador to the East" for early stage venture firm Y Combinator. In this position, he meets with East Coast applicants, mentors New York YC founders, and is a general representative for the company.[13] He also held the role of part-time partner and full-time partner at Y Combinator, before leaving in 2016 to help launch the third Initialized Capital fund with Garry Tan.[14]

Early stage tech investing[edit]

Ohanian co-founded Initialized Capital in 2010 and made seed investments in startups including Instacart, Zenefits, Opendoor, and Cruise. It has had three funds, totaling over $160M under management.[15] In 2014, CB Insights analyzed all the investors in tech and Ohanian was number one ranked investor for network centrality (the breadth of connections an investor has with other investors in the ecosystem and the quality and depth of those links).[16]

Open internet activism[edit]

In late 2010 and early 2011, Ohanian spoke out against Congress's Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate's Protect IP Act. He helped lead the Internet-enabled grassroots campaign that eventually overturned the two bills. Ohanian spoke to members of Congress, helped launch the national anti-SOPA/PIPA protests that took place on January 18, 2012, and spoke at the rally in New York that was organized by NY Tech Meetup.[17]

In October 2012, Ohanian teamed up with Reddit General Manager Erik Martin and embarked on the Internet 2012 Bus Tour from Denver, CO to Danville, KY to campaign for the open Internet during the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. One of the campaign stops spurred the idea for a possible "National Geek Day." in Washington DC.[18][19]

In response to his work advocating for the Open Internet, The Daily Dot named Ohanian number one in their top ten most influential activists of 2012, and Forbes dubbed him "Mayor of the Internet."[20][21]

In May 2014, Ohanian began campaigning the FCC to support net neutrality, culminating with a day-long phone-a-thon into the FCC and Congress on January 15, 2015.[1]

Crowdfunding campaigns[edit]

On December 10, 2012, Ohanian teamed up with Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers to launch a Kickstarter project, with the intent to make a new album titled "Lester's Time Has Come." According to Fast Company, Ohanian aimed "to prove that there are new, sustainable funding opportunities for artists now thanks to platforms like Kickstarter."[22]

Two years later, Ohanian raised $12,244 for the non-profit Black Girls Code on[23] In May 2014, Ohanian used again to launch "Save Net Neutrality: Billboard in FCC's Backyard," a crowdfunding campaign to protest the FCC's plans to eliminate the idea of net neutrality.[24]

Personal life[edit]

On December 29, 2016, Ohanian became engaged to tennis player Serena Williams.[25]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2011 and 2012, Ohanian was named to the Forbes "30 Under 30" list as an important figure in the technology industry.[26][27]

In 2013, Ohanian and Erik Martin were featured as "champions of innovation" in the 20th Anniversary issue of Wired.[28]

In 2015, Ohanian was named to the Crain's "40 Under 40" list for business.[29]

In 2016, Ohanian was named one of Fast Company's "Most Creative People in Business."[30]


On July 2, 2015, Reddit fired communications director Victoria Taylor, a well-liked administrator known for co-ordinating celebrity interviews from Reddit's New York office. In protest, volunteer moderators of the r/IAMA community set their forum to private, effectively turning it off, and other volunteer moderators followed suit, because of "anger at the way the company routinely demands that the volunteers and community accept major changes that reduce [their] efficiency and increase [their] workload."[31] Then interim-CEO Ellen Pao resigned a week later and Steve Huffman took over as CEO.[32]

Published works[edit]

Ohanian published a book titled Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed on October 1, 2013.[33][34] Without Their Permission ranked fourth on the Wall Street Journal′s best sellers list for Hardcover Business.[35] In connection with the book, Ohanian embarked on a five-month, 150-stop and 75-university tour to promote the book.[36][37]

Small Empires[edit]

In the summer of 2013, Small Empires with Alexis Ohanian, a weekly online series focused on rising startups in New York City hosted by Ohanian, premiered on The Verge.[38] The first season ran for nine episodes. The second season premiered in October 2014.[39]


NYRD Radio[edit]

On October 15, 2014, Ohanian launched the NYRD Radio podcast.[40] Guests on the show have included Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, Carter Cleveland (founder of Artsy) and Cameron Russell. The podcast features a segment called Office Hours, in which aspiring entrepreneurs can apply to work through an idea with him.[41]


On January 8, 2015, Ohanian released the first episode – listed as "Episode 0" – of Reddit's new podcast Upvoted, in which Ohanian delves deeper into real stories found on Reddit and talks to the users involved.[42] Each week, the podcast focuses on a different story and features a guest around whom that story is centered.

Speaking engagements and media appearances[edit]

Ohanian has spoken at over 80 universities, and lectured at conferences like TED, the Clinton Global Initiative, SXSW, and ROFLCon.[citation needed] He has spoken to a range of companies, including Google, BBDO, BursonMarsteller, Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, Kraft, and Palantir.[citation needed]

Ohanian has appeared on numerous major television networks, including NBC, ABC,[43] CBS,[44] CNBC,[45] CNN,[46] MSNBC,[47] Bloomberg. He has been interviewed on The Colbert Report,[48] Charlie Rose,[49] and Meet the Press.[50] He has also been featured and quoted in notable magazines and newspapers including the New York Times,[51] Wall Street Journal,[52] LATimes,[53] Time and[54] Washington Post.


  1. ^ "Alexis Ohanian". CrunchBase. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Next Web NYC Keynote Speech by Alexis Ohanian". 
  3. ^ Yeghiazaryan, Aghavni. "ALEXIS OHANIAN". 
  4. ^ Kompanek, Christopher (September 20, 2013). "Alexis Ohanian on founding Reddit and future start-ups". Financial Times. Retrieved October 25, 2013. His mother was born in Hamburg and his paternal grandparents were Armenian immigrants. 
  5. ^ Alexis Ohanian (March 29, 2012), 2001 Howard High Student Address, retrieved December 16, 2016 
  6. ^ "How Founding Reddit Got Me Through The Hardest Part Of My Life – Business Insider". August 3, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ "How Y Combinator Helped Shape Reddit". 2007-09-26. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  8. ^ Martin, Erik (September 6, 2011). "what's new on reddit: Independence". Blog.reddit. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  9. ^ Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Alexis Ohanian. "Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media – TED Talk –". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Alexis Ohanian Gains Perspective in Yerevan". AYFWest. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  12. ^ "About". Hipmunk. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian To Join Y Combinator". September 1, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Initialized Capital raises $115 million for its third fund". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  15. ^ "About Us". Initialized Capital. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Google PageRank for Investors". CB Insights - Blog. 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2017-01-10. 
  17. ^ Alexis Ohanian SOPA Protest.m4v. YouTube. January 18, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  18. ^ Lindsey Hoshaw (October 23, 2012). "In the Midwest, Reddit finds a thriving startup culture". Forbes. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  19. ^ "The Internet's March On Washington". BuzzFeed. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  20. ^ Collier, Kevin. "The top 10 most influential Internet rights activists in 2012". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  21. ^ Andy Greenberg. "How Reddit's Alexis Ohanian Became The Mayor Of The Internet". Forbes. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  22. ^ Carr, Austin (2012-12-11). "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian Taps Kickstarter And The Chambers Brothers To Prove Music Industry Wrong | Fast Company | Business + Innovation". Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Black Girls Code]". Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Save Net Neutrality: Billboard in FCC's Backyard". Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  25. ^ Williams Engaged to Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian", The New York Times, December 29, 2016.
  26. ^ Barret, Victoria (December 19, 2011). "30 Under 30 – Technology – Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  27. ^ Barret, Victoria and Connie Guglielmo (December 17, 2012). "30 Under 30 – Tech – Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  28. ^ d'Agostino, Brita (April 16, 2013). "From Zuck to Musk: The Champions of Innovation, in Portraits". Wired. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Alexis Ohanian - Meet Crain's New York Business Class of 2015 40 under 40". Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Alexis Ohanian: Latest News, Work, Videos, Photos on Fast Company". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  31. ^ Lynch, Brian; Swearingen, Courtnie (2015-07-08). "Why We Shut Down Reddit's 'Ask Me Anything' Forum". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  32. ^ Roettgers, Janko (July 10, 2015). "Ellen Pao Out At Reddit, Co-Founder Takes Over As CEO". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  33. ^ Victoria Barret. "Alexis Ohanian, CEO, Breadpig, 28 – In Photos: 30 Under 30: Technology". Forbes. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Without Their Permission". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Best-Selling Books: Week Ended Oct. 6 – WSJ". WSJ. 10 October 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Without Their Permission — Book Tour Dates". Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  37. ^ "blog.reddit -- what's new on reddit: I'm putting the reddit alien on a bus and doing a 150 stop, 77 college, 5 month long tour for internet entrepreneurship (let's hang out)". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Small Empires". Vox Media. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Small Empires - Season 2 Trailer". YouTube. 
  40. ^ "NYRD Radio". NYRD Radio. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  41. ^ "Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Wants to Answer Your Toughest Startup Questions –". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  42. ^ "Episode 0 – The Story of u/youngluck (Dante Orpilla) : upvoted". Reddit. January 8, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  43. ^ ABC News. "'This Week': Internet Privacy". ABC News. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  44. ^ "Reddit co-founder talks Boston bombing apology, appeal of social media site". CBS News. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  45. ^ "New York vs. Silicon Valley tech scene". Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  46. ^ "Breaking News Videos, Story Video and Show Clips –". CNN. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  47. ^ "Morning Joe – Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski & Willie Geist on msnbc". MSNBC. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  48. ^ "Alexis Ohanian". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  49. ^ "Alexis Ohanian on 'Without their Permission'". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  50. ^ "PRESS Pass: Alexis Ohanian". Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  51. ^ Schulman, Michael (November 22, 2013). "Founder of Reddit and the Internet's Own Cheerleader". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  52. ^ Gautham Nagesh (April 30, 2014). "Internet Users Mobilize as FCC Prepares Net Neutrality Plan". WSJ. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  53. ^ "Alexis Ohanian: Reddit co-founder, author Without Their Permission". YouTube. January 23, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  54. ^ "Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Talks About His New Book". October 1, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 

External links[edit]