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Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian visits UMass

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Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian visits UMass

Photo by Dan Peltier

Photo by Dan Peltier

Photo by Dan Peltier

Photo by Dan Peltier


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by Allee Graziano

Hailed as “Mayor of the Internet” in 2012 by a magazine you may have heard of called Forbes, Alexis Ohanian has made some significant life accomplishments to say the least. Ohanian has founded three successful companies, one which was conceptualized at a Waffle House and built in his dorm room at the University of Virginia in 2005 that became the multibillion dollar website Reddit.

Reddit is a social news website where users post links and other content. Content gets voted up or down by viewers affecting its placement in the hierarchy of the Reddit homepage as well as subreddits.

Last Sunday, February, 23 at 7 pm in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Ohanian spoke to over 350 students and other attendees in a standing room only event advising his listeners to, “Take full advantage of every day to be awesome,” along with other inspirational, and humorous quips from ”Go forth a suck,” to “Nobody has it all figured out, so don’t let it stop you from moving forward.”

The event was Ohanian’s 169th stop on his nationwide book tour promoting, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.”

The book and tour focus on spreading the message of the power of the Internet in helping entrepreneurs not only pursue their passions, but build successful businesses, communities and technologies. Ohanian’s talk was followed by a “fireside chat” with UMass Amherst alum, and Facebook’s 12th employee, Steve King.

King also had advice to offer aspiring entrepreneurs including, “Put yourself in the most awkward position imaginable and bounce back from it,” sharing stories of his days in the transitional time between college and a career.

“Even though the room was packed and not everyone had a proper seat I feel like everyone had a good time,” said Alex Chan, a mechanical engineering graduate student at UMass Amherst who organized the event along with Dan Robinson, a senior communications major.

“The message that he was telling us was something that applies to everybody,” Chan said. “With the internet today it’s easier to pursue the passions that you have, and not just pursue them but make a living doing that.”

A networking opportunity and book signing completed the evening with refreshments in the Marriott Center on the 11th floor of the Campus Center. Leaving most attendees with a signed book, and the knowledge that even the most brilliant and lucrative ideas can be inspired over a stack of buttery, syrup covered waffles, Ohanian reminded us to never stop trying because, “The first version of everything is janky.”

Allee Graziano can be reached at alleegraziano@gmail.com

Below are screenshots of live tweets from the event!

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Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian visits UMass