Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Joins MashableReads
We’ll be hosting a Twitter chat with Ohanian on Nov. 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. You can discuss the book with the author personally, along with other participants from all over the world.
In Without Their Permission, Alexis Ohanian explains how he helped co-found Reddit, the importance of the Internet and what it takes to run a successful web startup. From Reddit’s beginnings at the University of Virginia to being sold for millions of dollars to Condé Nast, Ohanian tells the story behind one of the most popular websites in existence and what it took to make it successful. He delivers anecdotes and advice throughout the whole book, managing to keep them both humorous and insightful. Without Their Permission is not just a history of Reddit, but a guide to anyone looking to create something new.
Be sure to follow @mashlifestyle to discuss Without Their Permission, using the hashtag #MashReads during the chat. You can also join our Facebook group to stay updated on MashableReads, and let us know what you think of the book throughout the month.
Want to hang out with the author in person? Share your thoughts on the book using the hashtag #MashReads via Vine, Instagram or Twitter prior to the chat, and we will select 10 people to visit Mashable‘s New York headquarters to meet Alexis Ohanian and participate in our book club.
We spoke with Ohanian about trolls on Reddit, inspiration and his geek confessions.
Q&A with Alexis Ohanian
Mashable: What was the greatest challenge in writing Without Their Permission?
Ohanian: I finally committed to writing it once I left Hipmunk and focused on the SOPA & PIPA fight — until then it was hard to write for more than an hour or so at a time given everything else I had going on. The disconnect between those two terrible bills and the millions of Americans who defeated them motivated me to write a book that would not only be a blueprint for someone’s entrepreneurial ambitions, but also argue for why the Internet must be protected — for all the great ideas we may never see come to fruition without it.
What’s the greatest advice you could give to someone looking to start their own site?
Start doing it right now. If you can’t build it yourself, start learning. Everyone has great ideas, but what’s going to make all the difference is actually executing them. Do it now while no one is looking. Remember: “sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.“
What’s the biggest problem you had with starting Reddit?
How to choose just one? Without giving too much away, Steve and I had an epic failure before we even got started on Reddit: an ill-fated mobile app for skipping lines called MyMobileMenu (MMM!), which got rejected by Y Combinator.
Thankfully, Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston (mostly Jessica) decided to call us back the next morning and offered to invest in us as long as we changed the idea. We killed that company on the spot and headed back to a meeting with Paul, which is when Steve and I agreed to try building “the front page of the Internet.”
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen on Reddit?
Also not fair. Whether it’s rebuilding a fence to protect an orphanage in Kenya, or a generous pizza-bomb on a children’s oncology ward, it always comes back to people who inspire me. Nameless individuals all over the world who are among the 81 million who use the platform every month to just be human.
What are your thoughts on trolls on Reddit?
Trolls suck whether online or off — a consequence of an open-communication platform, and life, really. Though they’re a statistically tiny portion of any user-base, they tend to get a disproportionate share of attention.
Do you have any secret geek confessions?
Steve and I both hit level 60 in World of Warcraft during the summer we started Reddit (that was the level cap back then). I played a paladin and I’m not proud of it. I also had a level 52 Half-Elf Bard in Everquest before that.
Image: Alexis Ohanian