Minneapolis, December 11, 2013—The Walker Art Center presents Creative Entrepreneurship: Making the World Suck Less, with Reddit Cofounder, Alexis Ohanian on Thursday, January 9 at 7 pm in the Walker Cinema. Best known as the cofounder of the social news site Reddit, the young Brooklyn-based entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian shares stories of artists, enterprisers, and civic-minded hackers that have taken initiative and gotten surprising results. Ohanian’s new book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made not Managed, is a call to action that combines advice and marketing secrets for building successful startup ventures with examples of heartwarming stories about using the Internet for grassroots campaigns. Co-presented with mnartists.org, bswing, CoCo, and The Collaborative.
The first 150 ticket buyers in attendance will receive a signed copy of Ohanian’s book.
About Alexis Ohanian
Alexis Ohanian, born April 24, 1983, is an entrepreneur and investor in Brooklyn, NY, best known as the co-founder of the social news site reddit.
While he learned his earliest lessons in leadership and web design from his high school Quake 2 clan and Everquest guild, Ohanian 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, Ohanian 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 Huffman 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, Ohanian invited Graham out for a drink so he and Huffman 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.
Ohanian and Huffman’s original plan was to build an infrastructure that would allow people to order food from their cell phones. Though the idea was rejected, Ohanian and Huffman 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. Ohanian continued to manage product and business at reddit until leaving in 2010 to volunteer in Armenia for Kiva.org. Today he sits on the board of reddit, inc., which last month alone had over 80 million unique visitors and is one of the 50 biggest US websites.
After working as a Kiva Fellow in Yerevan for three months, Ohanian returned to the US to focus on a social enterprise he’d started, called Breadpig. Described as a “Newman’s Own for nerds,” Breadpig publishes books featuring some of the most popular webcomics in the world, xkcd & Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and produces other geeky novelties like Awesomesauce and LOLmagnetz. The non-sustainable profits are donated to worthy causes (over $200,000 so far!). Upon returning to the States, Ohanian also accepted a position as Y Combinator’s Ambassador to the East.
In August 2010, just weeks before the launch, Ohanian joined the team at hipmunk, Huffman’s second Y Combinator startup. Ohanian helped create the company’s brand identity and managed their marketing and PR. After a little over a year, Ohanian 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, Ohanian 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 Intenret 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 about the adventure, Silicon Prairie. He presently sits on the NYC Mayor’s Council on Tech and Innovation.
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, Ohanian is now one of the most prominent investors in tech. He designed the logos and brands for reddit, Breadpig and hipmunk, and 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.
Along the way, Ohanian 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 having received a personal shout out from Stephen Colbert.
Ohanian 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; lectured at conferences like TED, the Clinton Global Initiative, SXSW, and ROFLCON; spoken to companies such as Google, BBDO, and Betaworks; 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.
Ohanian has appeared in countless publications in print and online: New York Times, WSJ, CNN, 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, his cat, and his girlfriend.
His mother always told him he was special. ( Bio via alexisohanian.com)
Tickets to Creative Entrepreneurship: Making the World Suck Less with Reddit Cofounder, Alexis Ohanian are $15 ($10 Walker members); and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.
The Walker Art Center is located at 1750 Hennepin Avenue—where Hennepin meets Lyndale—one block off Highways I-94 and I-394, in Minneapolis.
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