Interview with Alexis Ohanian – Leader of the Alien Social Revolution

If you call yourself a techie and haven’t heard of Reddit yet, you must have been sleeping under a 386 SX with 8 megs of RAM. In any case Reddit has recently come out of geek bookmarks and into the mainstreamhollywood that is. But don’t worry nerds and nerdettes it’s still a safe haven to read about the wonders of python, obscure programming languages, why Obama should be in office and the latest evidence in favor of evolution.

Okay, so now that you get that I love Reddit, let’s move on to one of the founders, Alexis Ohanian. He’s the guy in charge of drawing the the Reddit Alien and giving him his unique style and flair. In this interview [pq]he’s suprisingly candid about what motivates him – and it’s nothing less than a kick of negativity in the face[/pq]. I would have loved to see his “wall of demotivation” that inspired him during the early Reddit days. You’ll also find out that he’s a damn nice guy and what his goals are for the future. Enjoy the interview!


The Interview


Alexis lecturing and gesturing

Name: Alexis Ohanian
Age: 25
Occupation: Entrepreneur, Graphic Designer, Musician

What are are your nicknames and why did you receive them?::

Actually, I insisted on not having any nicknames and always went by Alexis. But maybe I never heard any that I really liked.

What items do you always carry with you?::

If the day is going well, I’ll have my keys, phone, and wallet on me. I usually have a laptop and a book with me, too. It justifies the existence of my manbag.

What challenges do you face in your line of work, and have you ever felt like giving up?::

These days, the challenges are far less perilous than when we were a startup. Back then, I felt like giving up every few days — especially given some family issues that arose — but the thought of actually doing it never crossed my mind. I suspect it’s part of the delusion that comes with starting a company — that, and a very supportive family.

What does your work environment look like?::

That changes depending on where I am at the moment, but it almost always includes this laptop.

Alexis\' Laptop

What do you consider greatest failure and why?::

Ahh, the advantage of only having a few years of experience on a large project that turned out to be a success…

Before reddit, I’d started a forum that grew to a few hundred members discussing world news, politics, etc. but eventually flamed out. It was a great experience in community management and my ambitions for that site certainly got funneled into reddit.

What do you consider your greatest achievement and why?:: – a lot of people are better informed/entertained because of it and I think we’ve somehow contributed to a decline in the United States’ GDP (breadpig is a close second)

Reddit Alienbreadpig

Who (and or what) inspires, motivates you?::

  1. Since I was a child, my parents.
  2. During reddit, it was typically any naysayers and trolls. [pqr]I even kept a wall of negative-reinforcement that had quotes and clippings[/pqr].
  3. More recently, Barack Obama.
  4. I’ve also long been motivated by rainbows.


What are the most important things you have learned in your life so far?::

  • People matter, things don’t.
  • Be skeptical — especially of any advice given by 25 year olds

Do you have any favorite quotes, pictures, internet links that you would like to share?::

  • “Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of: [pqr]Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind![/pqr]” — Kurt Vonnegut
  • I also regularly look to this regularly for inspiration:
  • And this, I start every day with this video to ease me into my morning coffee, then watch it an unhealthy number of times throughout the day:

What are your strengths and weaknesses?::

Answering job interview questions (I’ll let you decide if that’s a strength or weakness)

Me: It’s definitely a strength. You did great on your interview – you’re hired! See on you Monday.

What are you goals for the future?::

  1. Happiness
  2. Working on interesting problems
  3. World peace – Or at least 2 out of 3.


“Monkey Steals Peach” – Gem #1 from his Flickr [Online Images]

“Best Haircut Ever?” – Gem #2 from his Flickr [Online Images]

alien artist blog [Online Blog]

breadpig [Online Bidness]

reddit [Social site]



4 thoughts on “Interview with Alexis Ohanian – Leader of the Alien Social Revolution

  1. Pingback: alexis ohanian Co-Founder of reddit Completes Proust Questionnaire | Gareth Daine

  2. Pingback: Babbles of a Lover and a Fighter » Blog Archive » TED Talks

  3. John

    I was about to try Hipmunk, when my friend pointed out that Kayak is superior in so many ways. Hipmunk doesn’t even have any of the helpful features that Kayak does.

    I made sure to save my friends from using the disaster that is Hipmunk!

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