Lambdaphant | Interview With Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian

You don't program, but you are certainly a hacker. How did you get started?

Thanks, that's high praise. I had the kind of highschool education where they taught me how to maximize returns for minimal work, mostly because I wanted more time to lead my Quake2 & Half-life clan and level my bard (Everquest). That was mostly social hacking -- the kind I started training on my first job as a 14 year old sales rep at a CompUSA. One of my customers handed me his card (Stanley Foods, if I recall correctly) and offered me a sales job on the spot after I helped him choose a mouse.

When it comes to rule-breaking, my proudest accomplishment was probably getting into Y Combinator despite being the first (and only) non-technical founder they'd accepted. This was the first ever class of YC, mind you, and Paul certainly was skeptical of me.

What advice can you give to the younger hacker generation?

Start creating, start sharing. No one will remember your innumerable failures, so learn from them and iterate or move on. This is going to be your century. I'm working on a book proposal about that right now, in fact...

Thanks for the interview, Michael! Can't wait to see your interview with Huff :)

The Battle for the Best of New York Tech

Alexis Ohanian, the affable fellow who recently moved to New York to serve as Y Combinator's "ambassador to the East," did not waste any time that Tuesday night before opening the floor to questions. The audience, in turn, did not waste any time asking him pointedly whether Y Combinator was ever going to offer a program that would allow them to stay in New York instead of moving to the Bay Area.

Mr. Ohanian, who worked on a start-up as part of Y Combinator's very first class, in 2005, took the opportunity to make an important point: namely, that the purpose of his job as "ambassador" is not to poach the best start-ups and send them to California, but rather to fortify the New York tech scene.

"There is nothing saying that your start-up has to stay in the Bay Area," Mr. Ohanian told the crowd, with emphasis. "In fact, it'd be great if you come out for three months of education, learn that you hate Palo Alto, and want to come back to New York to make your millions—wonderful, do that. I'm the East Coast ambassador, and I'm trying to encourage as many start-ups as possible to consider that option, to make New York even more awesome."

They may have shut down the Manhattan hospital I was born in, but I'm returning to the city of my birth with a purpose: to make NY a top-of-mind destination for hackers.

As long as they don't come here to join a bank or hedge fund. Hehe.

Forbes gives @thehipmunk a great shoutout as a notable Y Combinator startup from this round

Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman decided to do what Kayak already did: make a better travel search engine (but better). Hipmunk's clever interface hides itineraries with ugly connections and confusing codeshare flights. Huffman, a YC alum, sold his user-powered news aggregator, Reddit, to Condé Nast in 2006. "I figured we'd do this, it would flop and we could move on to something better," Huffman laughs. "But it's really working."

Top of the list! Nice job, team hipmunk!

Assist in a @reddit takeover of (and win Special Guest Passes to the Rally)

  • All donations made via the Restoring Truthiness page between 10:30am EDT today and 5pm EDT on Thursday will be entered to win a pair of Special Guest passes to the rally. These get you access to a section nearest the stage, where you won't be forced to mingle with the unwashed, unspecial masses.

  • If/when the total raised tops $500K - we'll replace our logo site-wide with a sweet mashup that is pretty dang beautiful in all its orangered glory, if we do say so ourselves. And, we do say so ourselves.

  • Hitting $500K will also guarantee a Stephen Colbert top questions AMA, which is just bound to be terrible, I mean who would want to see such a thing, amirite?

Our gratitude for your kindness cannot be overstated. SO MUCH REDDIT LOVE. Thank you thank you thank you.

Here's the link, again, should you wish to get your click on.

    Our pals at DonorsChoose are so good at this it's kinda ridiculous, well, not really, because it's such a great cause.

    Stephen Colbert rally’s Reddit idea-man is coming to D.C. this weekend to witness what he's spawned

    “It’s like still surreal to me,” says Laughlin, 28. “A lot of people say I started it.”

    It wasn’t supposed to be political rally, but, he says, “It’s kind its kind of turned into one.” The original idea, he recalls, was to provide an outlet for people to protest Glenn Beck in some way. “Most people think Glenn Beck is pretty ridiculous, but there’s no outlet to show how people feel,” he says.

    Asked if he’s worried that the rally will siphon potential get out the voter organizers away from critical districts in the final week before the midterm elections, Laughlin says no.

    “I don’t think it would have a major impact on the election,” he said. “I think if anything, it would energize people” even though “its not technically part of the Democratic game plan.”

    Laughlin isn’t much of an organizer himself, he says, despite having been involved with the grassroots team of volunteers who have helped raise nearly $450,000 for educational charity DonorsChoose, on whose board Colbert sits, since starting their online drive to get Colbert to rally in Washington.

    We're *so* close to raising a half million dollars for DonorsChoose. C'mon, reddit! Let's do it in time.