Alexis Ohanian

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Alexis Ohanian
Alexis Ohanian 1-17-2012.jpg
Ohanian protesting SOPA and PIPA, 2012
Born (1983-04-24) April 24, 1983 (age 33)
New York City, New York, United States
Residence New York City, New York[1]
Alma mater University of Virginia
Known for entrepreneurship, startups, social marketing
Notable work Reddit, Small Empires

Alexis Ohanian (born April 24, 1983) is an American internet entrepreneur, activist and investor based in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, best known for co-founding the social news website Reddit, helping launch the travel search website Hipmunk, and starting the social enterprise Breadpig. He is a partner at Y Combinator, and is also the executive chairman of Reddit. Ohanian is in a relationship with Serena Williams.[2]

Early life[edit]

Ohanian was born to Chris Ohanian, an Armenian-American who entered the US as a Syrian refugee,[3] and whose ancestors were Armenian Genocide survivors,[4] 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.[5] He went to Howard High School in Columbia, Maryland.


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 and was later acquired by Condé Nast in 2006. Ohanian continued to work closely with Reddit as a member of its Board of Directors.[6][7][8]

In 2007, Ohanian launched Breadpig, an "uncorporation" that produces geeky merchandise and gives the proceeds to charity. He continues to run Breadpig today as its Founder and Chief Swine Defender.[9]

After leaving Reddit in 2009, Ohanian spent 3 months working in microfinance as a Kiva fellow in Yerevan, Armenia.[10] In 2009, Ohanian spoke at TED about a whale named Mister Splashy Pants.[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]

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.[14]

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.[15][16]

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."[17][18]

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."[19]

Two years later, Ohanian raised $12,244 for the non-profit Black Girls Code on[20] 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.[21]

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.[22][23]

In 2013, Ohanian and Erik Martin were featured as "champions of innovation" in the 20th Anniversary issue of Wired.[24]


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, moderators set several subreddits to private and several users purportedly left Reddit for its much smaller competitors Voat and Panjury.[25][26] Initially, interim CEO Ellen Pao was blamed for the dismissal. Harassment which was already being directed toward Pao in relation to other controversies intensified and she resigned a week later.[27] However, a moderator of IAmA posted on July 3 that "Chooter (Victoria) was let go as an admin by u/kn0thing [Alexis Ohanian]".[28] This was not widely reported until the aftermath of Pao's resignation when Ohanian elaborated on his role in Taylor's dismissal. On July 12, former CEO Yishan Wong informed the Reddit community that Taylor was fired by "the CEO's boss" and accused Ohanian of scapegoating.[29] Ohanian countered that even though the AMA / IAmA changes came from him, he still reported to Pao.[30] As was done for Ellen Pao, a petition was uploaded to asking Alexis Ohanian to step down.[31]

Published works[edit]

Ohanian published a book titled Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed on October 1, 2013.[32][33] Without Their Permission ranked 4th on the Wall Street Journal's best sellers list for Hardcover Business.[34] In connection with the book, Ohanian embarked on a 5-month, 150-stop and 75-university book tour that aimed to spread the startup entrepreneurial spirit and give students the event he had always wished he had as an undergrad.[35][36]

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.[37] The first season ran for nine episodes.

The second season premiered in October 2014.


NYRD Radio[edit]

On October 15, 2014, Ohanian launched the NYRD Radio podcast.[38] 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.[39]


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.[40] 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 was also the keynote speaker at an entrepreneurship summit in Cairo organized by the U.S. State Department months after the Egyptian Revolution.[citation needed]

Ohanian has appeared on numerous major television networks, including NBC, ABC,[41] CBS,[42] CNBC,[43] CNN,[44] MSNBC,[45] Bloomberg. He has been interviewed on The Colbert Report,[46] Charlie Rose,[47] and Meet the Press.[48] He has also been featured and quoted in notable magazines and newspapers including the New York Times,[49] Wall Street Journal,[50] LATimes,[51] Time and[52] Washington Post.


  1. ^ "Alexis Ohanian". CrunchBase. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Serena Williams Is Dating Alexis Ohanian, the Co-Founder of Reddit". Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  3. ^ "The Next Web NYC Keynote Speech by Alexis Ohanian". 
  4. ^ Yeghiazaryan, Aghavni. "ALEXIS OHANIAN". 
  5. ^ Kompanek, Christopher (20 September 2013). "Alexis Ohanian on founding Reddit and future start-ups". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 October 2013. His mother was born in Hamburg and his paternal grandparents were Armenian immigrants. 
  6. ^ "How Founding Reddit Got Me Through The Hardest Part Of My Life – Business Insider". 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  7. ^ "How Y Combinator Helped Shape Reddit". 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  8. ^ Martin, Erik (2011-09-06). "what's new on reddit: Independence". Blog.reddit. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  9. ^ Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Alexis Ohanian Gains Perspective in Yerevan". AYFWest. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Alexis Ohanian. "Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media – TED Talk –". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "About". Hipmunk. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian To Join Y Combinator". 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  14. ^ Alexis Ohanian SOPA Protest.m4v. YouTube. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  15. ^ Lindsey Hoshaw (23 October 2012). "In the Midwest, Reddit finds a thriving startup culture". Forbes. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "The Internet's March On Washington". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  17. ^ Collier, Kevin. "The top 10 most influential Internet rights activists in 2012". Society. The Daily Dot. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Andy Greenberg. "How Reddit's Alexis Ohanian Became The Mayor Of The Internet". Forbes. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  19. ^ 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 2015-06-26. 
  20. ^ "Black Girls Code]". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Save Net Neutrality: Billboard in FCC's Backyard". Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  22. ^ Barret, Victoria (December 19, 2011). "30 Under 30 – Technology – Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  23. ^ Barret, Victoria and Connie Guglielmo (December 17, 2012). "30 Under 30 – Tech – Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  24. ^ d'Agostino, Brita (April 16, 2013). "From Zuck to Musk: The Champions of Innovation, in Portraits". Wired. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  25. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (8 July 2015). "What will happen to the Internet if Reddit shuts down". Washington Post. Washington Post. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  26. ^ Woollacott, Emma (2015-07-03). "Ask Me Anything... Except Why Victoria Taylor Was Fired From Reddit". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  27. ^ Roettgers, Janko (2015-07-10). "Ellen Pao Out At Reddit, Co-Founder Takes Over As CEO". Variety. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  28. ^ Campbell, Andy (2015-07-03). "Reddit Community Revolts After 'Ask Me Anything' Administrator Is Dismissed". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  29. ^ Isaac, Mike (2015-07-13). "Details Emerge About Victoria Taylor's Dismissal at Reddit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  30. ^ Weinberger, Matt (2015-07-13). "Yishan Wong says Alexis Ohanian failed Ellen Pao". Business Insider. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  31. ^ "Fire Alexis Ohanian". Reddit. 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  32. ^ Victoria Barret. "Alexis Ohanian, CEO, Breadpig, 28 – In Photos: 30 Under 30: Technology". Forbes. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  33. ^ "Without Their Permission". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  34. ^ "Best-Selling Books: Week Ended Oct. 6 – WSJ". WSJ. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  35. ^ "Without Their Permission — Book Tour Dates". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  36. ^ "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 14 June 2015. 
  37. ^ "Small Empires". Vox Media. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  38. ^ "NYRD Radio". NYRD Radio. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  39. ^ "Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Wants to Answer Your Toughest Startup Questions –". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  40. ^ "Episode 0 – The Story of u/youngluck (Dante Orpilla) : upvoted". Reddit. January 8, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  41. ^ ABC News. "'This Week': Internet Privacy". ABC News. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  42. ^ "Reddit co-founder talks Boston bombing apology, appeal of social media site". CBS News. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  43. ^ "New York vs. Silicon Valley tech scene". Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  44. ^ "Breaking News Videos, Story Video and Show Clips –". CNN. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  45. ^ "Morning Joe – Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski & Willie Geist on msnbc". MSNBC. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  46. ^ "Alexis Ohanian". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  47. ^ "Alexis Ohanian on 'Without their Permission'". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  48. ^ "PRESS Pass: Alexis Ohanian". Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  49. ^ Schulman, Michael (22 November 2013). "Founder of Reddit and the Internet's Own Cheerleader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  50. ^ Gautham Nagesh (30 April 2014). "Internet Users Mobilize as FCC Prepares Net Neutrality Plan". WSJ. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  51. ^ Alexis Ohanian: Reddit co-founder, author Without Their Permission. YouTube. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  52. ^ "Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Talks About His New Book –". 1 October 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 

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