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Reddit co-founder gives talk, discusses failure and success

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Photo by Jason Liu | The Rice Thresher

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian speaks to Rice students on Feb. 26. The talk was a part of Ohanian’s book tour and was sponsored by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. 

By Jennifer Shen     3/11/14 5:47pm

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the popular content-sharing website Reddit Inc., spoke at Rice on Feb. 26 about online entrepreneurship.

The lecture, sponsored by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, was part of Ohanian’s national tour to present his book, Without Their Permission, according to Co-Director of RCEL Ray Simar.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the popular content-sharing website Reddit Inc., spoke at Rice on Feb. 26 about online entrepreneurship.



The lecture, sponsored by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, was part of Ohanian’s national tour to present his book, Without Their Permission, according to Co-Director of RCEL Ray Simar.

Ohanian said the Internet is the relevant frontier for the current generation, and people should use the many resources online to learn how to code. 

“We don’t know how it’s [going to] change all [of] these industries, but we do know it’s happening right now,” Ohanian said. “And those of us who are exploring this new frontier, we have an opportunity to guide where it’s headed.”

Ohanian said the execution of an idea can be more important than the idea itself and getting started on great ideas immediately, regardless of the possibility of failure, is crucial.

“Ideas alone are worthless,” Ohanian said. “Don’t be complacent with just a great idea. Get started right now. No one has a perfect roadmap. The first version of everything is janky. Even the first version of Iron Man is janky.”

Ohanian encouraged listeners to not care about one’s competition and to use haters as motivation. He gave the example of being invited to the Yahoo! headquarters only to be laughed at.

According to Ohanian, one Yahoo! executive called Reddit a rounding error compared to Yahoo!. Ohanian said the first thing he did when he went back home was to print out the words “you are a rounding error” and put it on his desk.

“I wanted to look at it every single morning and know exactly who we were proving wrong,” Ohanian said. 

Jones College senior Ruby Gee said she wished Ohanian talked more about the risks of startups.

“[He] was very charismatic [and] knew how to use internet humor to engage with his audience,” Gee said. “However, the talk skimmed over the [high failure rate] of tech entrepreneurship.”



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