Initializing...

Our tech community in SF turned out big-time on a very rainy night this weekend to celebrating the third fund of Initialized Capital. They're the reason we get to do this, for that we're grateful.

Lots of people, but I only got a few photos...


So many amazing people in one place. Thank you, SF tech community & initialized fam, for coming out tonight.


We had an event in SF on Saturday for our tech community that makes it all possible. It was our first. It won't be our last. Wanna get into tech but don't know how? Listen to Breaking Into Startups podcast by Ruben Harris -- seen here between two VCs.

Lessons Learned: Three Must-Dos for Entrepreneurial Success

This post is sponsored by Chase Ink®

I’m proud that Reddit is the seventh largest website in the U.S. with millions of users worldwide. But it wasn’t always that way.

When we started, my co-founder Steve Huffman and I faced some enormous hurdles on the meandering pathway from the initial idea to an up-and-running business. 

We made it, but it could have been easier if we knew then what we know now.

Whether you are just launching a new business or are a serial entrepreneur, there are best practices for making the journey a bit easier.

Here are three actions that I believe are must-dos to ensure your company survives and thrives.

1. Embrace your culture. There’s a reason why people want to work for your company, and the paycheck isn’t usually #1. Culture is the glue that holds your team together, that drives people to do their best work. 

But if you grow too fast, you can lose control of that culture. For instance, Reddit has strived to never double our headcount in a single year (I know, I know, a nice problem to have). The point is … stay true to what guides your company. Believe me, it’s what draws customers – and employees – to your brand. 

2. Spend smarter. In the early days of a startup, or when the company hits a growth spurt, it’s easy to lose control of expenses. For me, travel expenses have always been a struggle to control. Because our company is global, I’m always on the move. And that can quickly overwhelm the budget. 

Look for ways to save while spending. You may have seen one way I recommend doing it, in this video. I’ve been a Chase customer for a while, and the new Chase Ink Business Preferred Card helps business owners get something back for their spend on certain purchases important to entrepreneurs. Earn 3x points on travel, internet, cable and phone and in other select business categories.  Points you can redeem down the road, for things like … more travel. Ahh, the circle of life. 

3. Protect your biggest asset … you! At the ripe old age of 33, I’ve finally started to take better care of myself. Not so much in the early days at Reddit. I worked all the time, and I loved it. But there is a cost to bear, both physically and mentally. 

Now, I spend more time exercising and being careful about what I’m eating – and I feel more productive and effective when working. I wish I’d started taking care of myself a lot sooner. Don’t make that mistake. 

At the end of the day, we’re in business to make money. That’s a tough proposition even in good times, but it’s even more difficult if you’re not in control of your business culture, your expenses or your health. 

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Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, and other small business owners are finding creative ways to use the rewards points earned on their business credit cards to invest in their business. Learn more about the new Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Card and its flexible and rich rewards.

My Open Letter to the Reddit Community

Below is a copy of the post I wrote for Reddit yesterday. It was an intended to be an open letter, to encourage other American redditors to share their own or their family's immigration stories. Within 9 hours, this post had a record score of over 90,000 points and over 25,000 comments. Many of these stories were far more eloquent and moving than my own. Please read them here.

After two weeks abroad, I was looking forward to returning to the U.S. this weekend, but as I got off the plane at LAX on Sunday, I wasn't sure what country I was coming back to.

President Trump’s recent executive order is not only potentially unconstitutional, but deeply un-American. We are a nation of immigrants, after all. In the tech world, we often talk about a startup’s “unfair advantage” that allows it to beat competitors. Welcoming immigrants and refugees has been our country's unfair advantage, and coming from an immigrant family has been mine as an entrepreneur.

As many of you know, I am the son of an undocumented immigrant from Germany and the great grandson of refugees who fled the Armenian Genocide.

A little over a century ago, a Turkish soldier decided my great grandfather was too young to kill after cutting down his parents in front of him; instead of turning the sword on the boy, the soldier sent him to an orphanage. Many Armenians, including my great grandmother, found sanctuary in Aleppo, Syria—before the two reconnected and found their way to Ellis Island. Thankfully they weren't retained, rather they found this message:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My great grandfather didn’t speak much English, but he worked hard, and was able to get a job at Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company in Binghamton, NY. That was his family's golden door. And though he and my great grandmother had four children, all born in the U.S., immigration continued to reshape their family, generation after generation. The one son they had—my grandfather (here’s his AMA)—volunteered to serve in the Second World War and married a French-Armenian immigrant. And my mother, a native of Hamburg, Germany, decided to leave her friends, family, and education behind after falling in love with my father, who was born in San Francisco.

She got a student visa, came to the U.S. and then worked as an au pair, uprooting her entire life for love in a foreign land. She overstayed her visa. She should have left, but she didn't. After she and my father married, she received a green card, which she kept for over a decade until she became a citizen. I grew up speaking German, but she insisted I focus on my English in order to be successful. She eventually got her citizenship and I’ll never forget her swearing in ceremony.

If you’ve never seen people taking the pledge of allegiance for the first time as U.S. Citizens, it will move you: a room full of people who can really appreciate what I was lucky enough to grow up with, simply by being born in Brooklyn. It thrills me to write reference letters for enterprising founders who are looking to get visas to start their companies here, to create value and jobs for these United States.

My forebears were brave refugees who found a home in this country. I’ve always been proud to live in a country that said yes to these shell-shocked immigrants from a strange land, that created a path for a woman who wanted only to work hard and start a family here.

Without them, there’s no me, and there’s no Reddit. We are Americans. Let’s not forget that we’ve thrived as a nation because we’ve been a beacon for the courageous—the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed.

Right now, Lady Liberty’s lamp is dimming, which is why it's more important than ever that we speak out and show up to support all those for whom it shines—past, present, and future. I ask you to do this however you see fit, whether it's calling your representative (this works, it's how we defeated SOPA + PIPA), marching in protest, donating to the ACLU, or voting, of course, and not just for Presidential elections.

Our platform, like our country, thrives the more people and communities we have within it. Reddit, Inc. will continue to welcome all citizens of the world to our digital community and our office.

And for all of you American redditors who are immigrants, children of immigrants, or children’s children of immigrants, we invite you to share your family’s story in the comments.

March For Science, started on Reddit, coming to a US city near you soon!

All it takes is one comment on Reddit to set the wheels in motion for a massive event. Thank u/beaverteeth92 on Reddit.


Via Washington Post:

The next big march on Washington could flood the Mall with scientists.

It's an idea spawned on Reddit, where several scientists — concerned about the new president's policies on climate change and other issues, and hyped from the success of the Women's March on Washington — were discussing the best way to respond to what they feared would be an administration hostile to science.

Then someone wrote, “There needs to be a Scientists' March on Washington.”

"100%,” someone replied. Dozens of others agreed.

One participant in the exchange, University of Texas Health Science Center postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Berman, took the conversation to heart. In short order, the march had a Facebook page (whose membership swelled from 200 people on Tuesday night to more than 300,000 by Wednesday evening), a Twitter handle, a website, two co-chairs, Berman and science writer and public health researcher Caroline Weinberg, and a Google formthrough which interested researchers could sign up to help

The best message an author can get

I recently got a Reddit PM from a reader of Without Their Permission that absolutely made my week and he allowed me to share it.

Getting on the bestseller list is great, but getting an email like this is everything for an author. You write a book because you hope it takes someone away from their life for a few hours to really open up a new way of thinking. In this case, helping them help themselves change their life in a material way for the better.

Ben, your choices are going to pay dividends for you the rest of your life and I'm hoping to hear from you over the years as you keep leveling up. Thank you so much for this note. And thank you for your service.

If you don't like images, here's a copy of the text:

Hey Alexis,

I messaged you on Facebook and I'm not sure you'll get it, so I figured I'd try to reach you here as well to tell you how you've helped me.

A little over two years ago, I was a Marine deployed on the Naval ship USS Bataan. At this point, I had left college at the University of Rhode Island because I just didn't care about learning, I guess I just never had a passion for learning. Anyway, I magically saw Without Their Permission in the ship library and decided to check it out. After reading it I was completely inspired, and began teaching myself Javascript. For once, I loved learning--and it was because of your book. I spent every waking minute immersing myself in Javascript and learning about startups. This eventually led me to begin reapplying to college to continue down the path of education that your book took me on.

I ended up interviewing for a leadership scholarship to Dartmouth College, and they thought my story of becoming passionate about code was compelling enough to award me a full scholarship. I just started school this fall, and I'm loving it.

At a recruiting lunch on Tuesday, I was asked about how I began coding and immediately mentioned reading your book a few years ago. Recalling all of these memories made me want to reach out to you and thank you. I'm not sure what your book was doing in the ship's library, among dry manuals about military tactics and such. All I know is that I'm extremely thankful that you wrote such an inspirational book, and that it happened to be there for me.

Thanks!!!

Ben [Redacted]

Gifting my sister an upgrade for the holidays

HP Presents Reinvent Giving with Alexis Ohanian from Collectively on Vimeo.

HP approached me to be a part of their #ReinventGiving campaign and I thought there is no better person to give the new HP Spectre x360 to this holiday season than my sister Amy, since she doesn’t treat herself to a lot of things.

Amy works long hours as a nurse for a children’s hospital in Boston and is the last person to upgrade her own personal items -- if it works, it’s good enough for her. As a tech founder + investor, I’ve got a reputation to uphold, so a part of me wants to upgrade her just because it means my sister finally has some modern computing technology. But it’s really because she’s an amazing person who deserves a holiday upgrade.


The HP Spectre x360 is going to be the perfect laptop for her, because it won’t weigh her down (she’s only like 5’1”) and it can go everywhere she goes. It’s also a convertible laptop, so whether she gets some downtime in the break room (rarely) or if she’s at home lounging on the sofa with thirty blankets on her (much more likely) this laptop converts into a tablet and can be her entertainment. And since we live on opposite coasts, the Spectre x360 is the perfect tool to reinvent how Amy and I stay in touch, allowing us to Skype and chat wherever we are. Being able to catch up over video will be such a special way to feel engaged and present in Amy’s life.

The best part of gifting a laptop is thinking all the ways Amy will be able to use it. That’s also the theme behind HP’s latest video about gifting; I love seeing the effect technology can have on someone’s life.


When Amy’s not, you know, saving lives of cute kids, she’s an active runner. In that frigid Boston winter, she’s going to need a new fleece and headphones to keep her mind off how cold it is.

As part of the program HP also gave me a Spectre x360, I’m most excited about finally having a touch screen on my laptop. This feels like something I should have had years ago. I spend a lot of my time on the road so the lightweight form-factor, combined with solid laptop power -- but a long battery-life -- are all very appealing.


Thanks to HP, you can enter for a chance to win your own Spectre x360 to gift to someone you care about. All you have to do is comment #ReinventGivingSweepstakes on this Tweet. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. (D.C.) 18+.  Ends 12/14/16.  For Official Rules, including odds and prizes, visit http://bit.ly/2gBz4HD. Void where prohibited.

This post is sponsored by HP, but all opinions are my own.

Give a damn, give lots of damns. They'll come back to you 10x.

Met a founder yesterday in Waterloo who had saved this postcard I sent him over 7 years ago. ⬆️ IIRC his girlfriend had ordered him a Reddit shirt, which I of course personally packed and shipped with a note -- and a postcard I designed, signed by the ENTIRE team in SF. Yes, 5 of us.

I'm always telling founders to "give a damn, give lots of damns" and this is one example why. It's not beneath a founder to do these little, unique things that don't scale for your customers early on. On the contrary, it's how you build something special... Thank you for this reminder!