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Reddit Co-Founder Gives Talk At USC

James Nguyen |
January 23, 2014 | 2:12 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter


On Wednesday evening, USC students were given an opportunity to listen in on Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as he gave a motivational speech about entrepreneurship  and start-up companies as part of a promotional tour for his new book: “Without Their Permission : How the 21st Century will be Made, not Managed.”  USC is only one part of Ohanian’s plan to visit 75 different universities across the continent within five months.

Known mostly for being  co-founder of the highly popular online community, Reddit, Ohanian is also a successful investor and creator of other sites such as travel-search based “Hipmunk,” social enterprise “Breadpig,” and less widely known as the designer for all three of the mascots for these sites, including the iconic and adorable alien of Reddit.   

SEE ALSO: Top 9 Celebrity Reddit AMAs 

Students were encouraged to text and tweet during the speech as long as they included #wtp (Eric Parra)
Students were encouraged to text and tweet during the speech as long as they included #wtp (Eric Parra)
During his talk, the co-founder encouraged students to be more proactive during their time at school, heavily emphasizing failure as a positive growing experience.  Borrowing from “Adventure Time’s” Jake the Dog, Ohanian told students, “sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.” 

Despite his booming success in recent years, and notably being listed in Forbes top “30 under 30” list for both 2010 and 2012, Ohanian reminds students that he himself came from humbler roots and bowlier haircuts.  

When Reddit was a much smaller company than it is now, Ohanian and co-founder Steve Huffman were invited by a Yahoo executive to discuss the company’s future.  After being asked about monthly hits, the young developers responded with 8,000 to 9,000 in their first month. The executive proceeded to laugh in their face. “You are just a rounding error.”

That exact phrase is still hanging in Ohanian’s office, and served as years of powerful motivation for him to push on and succeed.  

SEE ALSO: 8 Wacky Holiday Traditions From Reddit Users

Ohanian made numerous references to internet memes throughout his talk, from Grumpy Cat and Bane to “Haters gonna hate” while discussing how action and accomplishments will define those that will make a difference versus mere ideas alone.  In his words, “Entrepreneur is just French for “Has Ideas, Does Them.”  

For his conclusion,  Ohanian introduced a USC alumni that was also able to be successful through his own startup company,  and interviewed them about their personal experience in the field.  This type of interview is a reoccurring theme in Ohanian’s tour to promote initiative in student run business ventures without fear of failing.  “Go out and suck USC.  Don’t take that out of context”.  

Before he departed, he presented the school with a banner in the likeness of his book cover, to which he denied all liability for what might happen with it.  


You can check out his main site here and his book “Without Your Permission”  which has been in stores since October of last year. 

Reach Staff Reporter James Nguyen here.



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