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Alexis Ohanian, born April 24, 1983, is an entrepreneur and investor best known as the co-founder of Reddit, a platform for online communities to share links and have discussions. While he learned his earliest lessons in leadership and web design from his high school Quake 2 clan and Everquest guild, Alexis continued his official studies at the University of Virginia, where he met his future co-founder Steve Huffman during freshman year move-in day. At UVA, Alexis majored in business and history with a minor in German. Though he had originally planned to become an immigration lawyer, he experienced an epiphany in his junior year (while sitting in a Waffle House) that led him to the realization that he didn’t want to practice law. Instead he convinced his best friend Steve to start a company with him.
The pair traveled to Cambridge, MA during their senior year spring break to hear Paul Graham give a talk titled “How to Start a Startup.” After the lecture, Alexis invited Graham out for a drink so he and Steve could pitch Graham on their business idea. Graham agreed, loved the idea, and a suggested they apply to a new seed stage venture firm he’d launched called Y Combinator. Alexis and Steve’s original plan was to build an infrastructure that would allow people to order food from their cell phones. Though the idea was rejected, Alexis and Steve were invited to join the first class of Y Combinator, on the condition that they’d come up with a new concept. The next idea they pitched to Graham would become reddit.com.
Sixteen months after he graduated, Reddit was acquired by Condé Nast. Alexis continued to manage product and business at Reddit until leaving in 2010 to volunteer in Armenia for Kiva.org. He returned to Reddit in 2014 as Executive Chair, and in 2015, moved to San Francisco to work at Reddit full time alongside his co-founder Steve Huffman. Since their return, Reddit’s numbers continue to rise – with over 200 million unique visitors a month – it is one the 10th biggest US websites.
After working as a Kiva Fellow in Yerevan for three months, Alexis returned to the US to focus on a social enterprise he’d started called Breadpig. Described as a “sidekick-for-hire,” Breadpig publishes books featuring some of the most popular webcomics in the world, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and produces other geeky novelties like Awesomesauce and LOLmagnetz. It also provides services for people who want to make something nice, or take a risk on something crazy. The non-sustainable profits are donated to worthy causes. Upon returning to the States, Alexis also accepted a position as Y Combinator’s Ambassador to the East; in 2014, he became a Partner at YC.
In August 2010, just weeks before the launch, Alexis joined the team at hipmunk, Steve Huffman’s second Y Combinator startup. Alexis helped create the company’s brand identity and managed their marketing and PR. After a little over a year, Alexis moved to an advisory role and accepted an offer from Grand Central Publishing for his first book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made not Managed, which debuted as a national bestseller.
In early November 2011, Alexis joined the fight against SOPA and PIPA, becoming one of the public faces for the movement, which ultimately thwarted both bills in a display of citizen power never seen before by lawmakers. He continues to fight for internet freedom working on projects like the Declaration of Internet Freedom, Internet Defense League, and the Internet 2012 Campaign Bus Tour, which toured the heartland of America with Erik Martin to campaign for the open internet and produced a documentary ALEXIS OHANIAN.
about the adventure, Silicon Prairie. He also sat on the NYC Mayor’s Council on Tech and Innovation under the Bloomberg Administration.
In 2013, he launched a show on The Verge called Small Empires about NY tech startups — the founders who create and the people who use these digital platforms. An active investor with over eighty tech startups now in his portfolio, Alexis is now one of the most prominent investors in tech. He designed the logos and brands for Reddit, Breadpig, and hipmunk, and he has proven the model for making something people love online & offline, building brands that are both community-driven (Reddit) and not (Hipmunk). He uses these experiences to mentor and advise the young startups in his portfolio and recent YC graduates. Today he’s a part-partner at Y Combinator and is back at Reddit as Executive Chair.
Along the way, Alexis has spoken at TED (a talk viewed over a million times), been rendered in CGI on NMA.TV, was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” in Technology two years in a row (and then turned 30), and included in Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30” for his work at hipmunk. He’s a regular contributor on Bloomberg TV and is especially proud of unlocking his bucket-list achievement – appearing on The Colbert Report.
Alexis has spoken at universities including MIT, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, UPenn, NYU, Columbia, UCLA, the University of Michigan, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Virginia to name a few, has lectured at conferences like TED, the Clinton Global Initiative, SXSW and ROFLCON, has spoken to companies such as Google, BBDO, and Betaworks, and has been hired for talks at Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, Kraft, and Palantir. He even keynoted an entrepreneurship summit in Cairo organized by the U.S. State Department just months after the Egyptian Revolution.
Alexis has appeared in countless publications in print and online: New York Times, WSJ, Washington Post, The Economist,WIRED, NY Post, Gawker, TechCrunch, Mashable, Paper Magazine, Nylon guys, Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc. He’s also appeared in television programs on networks including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, Al-jazeera English, NPR, and G4.
He loves hummus, the Washington Redskins, the Brooklyn Nets, and his cat. His mother always told him he was special.