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Alexis Ohanian        

Co-Founder of Initialized Capital & Co-Founder of Reddit; Entrepreneur, Investor, Activist & Bestselling Author

Tech founder and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian embraces disruption, beginning with his Waffle House epiphany that becoming an attorney was not his destiny to co-founding Reddit [reddit.com] in his UVA dorm and launching the venture upon graduation. Ultimately selling the iconic company for millions, Ohanian's entrepreneurial journey is a business school case study and playbook for founders.

Reddit.com has become one of the largest websites in the US. It was initially funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and sold to Conde Nast in 2006. Ohanian returned as executive chairman in 2014 to help lead the turnaround of the now independent company. Without Their Permission, his national bestseller chronicles much of the story.

In 2016 Ohanian left to co-found Initialized Capital—a seed-stage venture fund with over $770M under management and a portfolio with $100B in market value, which invested in companies like Instacart and Coinbase. In addition to starting Reddit.com, he has also been instrumental in other successful online ventures, including HipMunk and BreadPig. He's invested in and advised over two hundred tech startups and was a partner at Y Combinator.

In June of 2020, in protest and solidarity with the national outcry for social justice, Ohanian stepped down from his seat on Reddit's Board of Directors and urged his company to seat a Black candidate in his place.

With his passion for inclusion and a fervent commitment to Founders, Ohanian left Initialized Capital to establish the venture firm, Seven Seven Six, which recently closed its first fund with $150M. Focused on people, culture, and community, Seven Seven Six places humanity at its core. The firms' limited partnership structure has DEI in its design, comprising 50% women and15% Black or indigenous limited partners. The firm offers the Founders in its portfolio an unprecedented Growth and Caregiving Commitment through an additional 2% of investment - set aside and dedicated to the life needs of Founders to encourage a balanced lifestyle including childcare, eldercare, or personal development. The innovation does not stop there. Through an open application process (not traditional for the VC world), Seven Seven Six has designed an Operator in Residence program to deliver optimum value to its Founders through access to cutting edge Operators. A first of its kind, the program promises to infuse VC with even greater diversity

Ohanian is an advocate for the open internet, STEM education, and paid family leave. He has lobbied on Capitol Hill and penned a New York Times op-ed, Paternity Leave Was Crucial After The Birth of My Child, and Every Father Deserves It. Ohanian launched the Business Dad podcast, where he interviews fellow fathers about what it means to be a dad in today's world and how they balance their careers and families. He is also the lead founding investor in the LA-based professional women's soccer team, Angel City Football Club.

If you expect Ohanian's speeches to offer the formula for uncontested success, you would be surprised. Driven by curiosity and questions (not a well-designed strategy), Ohanian lessons are transparent admissions of beta failures. His stories – punctuated with humility and humor – share the discoveries that shaped his worldview and an unrelenting commitment to make the world a better place – without permission.

Speech Topics


Without Their Permission

At 29, Ohanian has come to personify the dorm-room tech entrepreneur, changing the world without asking permission. Within a couple of years of graduating college, Ohanian did just that, selling reddit for millions of dollars. He’s gone on to start many other companies, like hipmunk and breadpig, all while representing Y Combinator and investing in over sixty other tech startups.

As Alexis Ohanian learned when he helped to co-found the immensely popular reddit.com, the internet is the most powerful and democratic tool for disseminating information in human history. And when that power is harnessed to create new communities, technologies, businesses or charities, the results can be absolutely stunning. In this talk based on his new book, "Without Their Permission," Alexis shares his ideas on harnessing the power of the web for good and shares his philosophy with young entrepreneurs all over the globe. Alexis believes that the internet is the world's greatest library and stage, and he helps everyone gets on board equipped with all the right tools. He calls it "Permissionless Innovation" and shows the power of this platform not only for entrepreneurship, but for philanthropy, activism, the arts and more.

According to Alexis, when all links are created equal, we're going to see better companies, better arts, better non-profits, even better politicians. The potential is limitless from people who’ve been left out by traditional gatekeepers.

In order for this creativity to flourish we need to keep internet open and free and a viable place for people to pursue their dreams.

Think Like a Startup

America is losing its competitive edge as a nation. With fewer products being produced in the US, it is innovation coming from dorm-rooms and garages that will continue generating wealth (and jobs) for the next generation. Today, Google (started in a garage) has over 20,000 employees. Skype was developed by programmers in Estonia, and when it was sold, the price was equal to more than 1/10th of Estonia's GDP that year. A 17-year-old high school student in Moscow started ChatRoulette.com, which quickly became one of the most popular websites in the world.

Alexis was in the first round of Y Combinator startups, funded in a model that has quickly become replicated worldwide as the standard means of investing in early stage web startups. He'll share what he learned from having gone through the experience, as well as what it's like now working for Y Combinator as their "Ambassador to the East."

With over 60 companies in his portfolio today, Alexis will also share his insights as an investor and show companies of all sizes the most valuable lessons they can learn from startup culture.

Make Something People Love

So, you want to learn how to make a product people love-that's great! But stop right there. Before you can make something people love, you have to make something people want. What's challenging and wonderful about the web is that tricks of perception alone will not work. Anything you create actually has to be good. No matter how you try to convince someone to buy or use your product, they are always only a back button away from something more interesting. The internet is the most efficient marketplace for ideas that has ever existed, but your competition is stiff, and comes in all forms.

Alexis shares lessons he's learned from co-founding reddit, and building community on breadpig and the travel search site hipmunk. He'll also share best practices for design and community that he imparts to the startups he advises and invests in.

Make the World Suck Less (And Still Make a Profit)

So many people talk about how to use social media to build community, but not many have actually done it on a massive scale. As co-founder of the social news site reddit, and founder of the social enterprise breadpig, Alexis speaks with authority on the power of building a passionate community and the opportunity to tap into that community to do good works.

"Make the World Suck Less" is Alexis's motto and the mission he builds into all his entrepreneurial endeavors. With breadpig, he turned the publishing model on its head, giving the bulk of its profits to the artists while still raising over $200,000 in three years to donate to non-profit projects.

Alexis tells stories from his own experiences, and from the companies he invests in, and shows how individuals and organizations of every size and type can put these values into action.

News


Wait — Is Qai Qai America’s Most Important Doll?
The Career Setback That Led Alexis Ohanian to Start Reddit ...
Alexis Ohanian: Y Combinator Rejected Us ... gave the interview of our lives, just nailed it,” Ohanian said during an interview in the Bloomberg GO green room.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to speak at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
Internet entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian, co-founder and executive chairman of the giant social news site Reddit, will speak at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week next month as part of NOLA Media Group's Future of New Orleans Project. Ohanian joins a prominent roster of entrepreneurs and innovators who will address the annual NOEW event created and produced by The Idea Village. Other speakers include investor and former AOL co-founder Steve Case, Linda Boff of General Electric, Prakash Janakiraman of Nextdoor, and investment executive Jim Coulter of TPG Capital.
Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian Joins The Verge to Host Web ...
The entrepreneur teams with the tech site for a ten-part series on startup culture.
Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Co-Founder, On Most Popular Subreddits ...
PHOTO: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 28. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 28, ...
Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Co-Founder, To His 'Fellow Geeks': Stop ...
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is aware of the sexism haunting the site and he has one word for his fellow geeks: "Stop."

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