Alexis Onhanian, co-founder of Reddit: some questions, some answers.

I asked Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the reddit, several (hopefully interesting) questions during one of his relatively frequent AMA‘s (Q&A sessions). Alexis was the largely nontechnical guy who built redddit over a summer during the first Y Combinator (YC) programme, with his technical colleague Steve Huffman, and later sold it to Conde Nast (though he still advises/works on the site).

Hey Alexis:
What do you enjoy doing the most these days?
You’ve done various things, made various things happen – what do you do to make you happy?

Cuddling my cat. Reading. And meeting + helping people be awesome using the internet. That’s why I wrote the book, why I’m doing an insane 5month tour for internet entrepreneurship, and why I care so damn much about not letting government or business screw up the internet.

Alexis Ohanian at the 2012 SOPA protests in New York by Alec Perkins
Alexis Ohanian at the 2012 SOPA protests in New York by Alec Perkins

If you were doing a startup again, without your past work at various of these companies, as a nontechnical guy, what would you say you brought to the table, to other, more technical founders?

No doubt, non-technical founders have a lot more to do to justify their worth at the pre-product stage of a company. We all have ideas. They’re worthless. A non-tech founder has to be egoless enough to do ANYTHING that is not technical. Ordering delivery, handling paperwork, collecting receipts, as well as the ‘sexy’ things like product and branding.
I’m particularly good from that brand + community building side, whether it’s creating the logos (notice all the mascots? heh) or developing that relationship with users and customers to create businesses that people love.
Of course, without first having a product that people want, all of this is worthless. I love that about the internet.

When you were doing $a_startup, who did you ask for advice, how much did you listen to them and how did you know how much to listen, and how much to JFDI?

You know, PG was a great mentor for me and Steve during the first 6mos of reddit because YC was still so small (we were first round, so there were only like 12 companies) but after that, I never really had a mentor.
Aside from Mr. JFDI ;) I wish I did have someone, though. Like Gabe. Or Jay Z.

Do you have any advice for British nightowls up late hacking on things between days of a python conference? :)

Please stop putting “u”s in places where they don’t belong.


Since I’m being polite & British – here’s a plug for his upcoming book Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed – you can preorder it, and co-incidentally, it’s on my wishlist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>