Thanks for picking me as your Follow Friday feature, Define Magazine!

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If Alexis Ohanian (not Alex or Al) (@kn0thing) were to be compared to a superhero, he’d be a modern day Superman (sans super powers). By day he’d be working at Breadpig and Hipmunk, and by night he’d be “trying to make the world suck less”, which would include working with Kiva.

For those of you who don’t know, Reddit is a news aggregate where the users (Redditors) vote user-submitted articles up or down on a list. Conde Nast Digital acquired Reddit from Alexis and co-founder Steve Huffman in 2006.

If it weren’t for Michael Tao, I would have no idea who Alexis (or Reddit for that matter) was, depriving me of his tweets about his charity work in Laos (through Breadpig) and his fellowship with Kiva. And I would certainly have no idea that Masuka is a Redditor.

Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian

How do you choose what projects to get involved in?

I choose projects based mostly on gut. I don’t do much research ahead of time, which seems pretty absurd, I’m sure. But I’ll undertake these projects with the understanding that they’ll be as simple & fast to try as possible — if they work, I’ll iterate and grow them and if they fail, I cut my losses and move on.

I’m really lucky to love the work that I do, so I do a lot of it. It’s incredibly satisfying.

What inspires you? band-photo

It’s cliche, but my parents certainly inspire me. I’m regularly inspired by stories I read from all over the world of people fighting all sorts of injustices. I know how comfortable my life is thanks to a life lottery ticket I didn’t do anything to deserve, so it’s easy to find inspiration.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I should ask my dad. Like many children, I know I wanted to be a paleontologist for quite some time. But as I grew up, I learned that they spend most of their time outside digging up bones (not playing with dinosaurs) and discarded that life goal.

Who would you recommend to Follow Friday?

I see you’re into fashion at DefineMag. Well, my friends started a cool clothing line for male geeks to start looking classy ;)

Will you see The Social Network? Why/Why not? christina_alexis_in_front_xkcdbreadpig_school_laos

Yes. I read the book, Accidental Billionaires, and while I didn’t think it was a terribly accurate portrayal, it was a great read. Likewise, I’ve heard such great things about the writing & directing of the film (which I believe I loosely based on the book, which was already loosely based on reality) that I’m absolutely going to see it.

I mean, I saw Predators in theaters. Granted, I’ve been a fanboy of the Aliens & Predator universe since I was a kid, but I really could’ve just waited, Netflixed it, and had those pot brownies in the comfort of my own home.

Photos provided by Alexis Ohanian.

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Coming from a strong sporting background, Erin Gee is one of the most competitive people you will ever meet. She can turn everything into a competition, giving her all until the she crosses the finish line. With a BA in Criminology, Erin criminological interests lie on the international level. Her other passions are fashion, softball and travel.

Thank you very much, Erin! (And @DefineMag)

Paul Buchheit: Serendipity finds you

My plans rarely work (unless they are boringly simple), but serendipity has been good to me, so over time I've tried to make the most of that. My theory of serendipity is still evolving, but from what I've seen, it's better to think in terms of "allowing" serendipity rather than "seeking" it or "creating" it. Opportunity is all around us, but we have beliefs and habits that block it.

The two biggest blocks to serendipity seem to be ego-fear and "other plans".

Rock on, @PaulToo, I couldn't agree more; one more reason why it pays off to not be a dick.

So I've got a McIntire Alumni profile?

Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian

Class of 2005

As an introduction, what have you been doing since graduation? How did you make the decision to go out on your own so quickly after graduating?

Steve Huffman (Engineering ’05) and I moved up to Boston in June 2005 to start, a news site that allows readers — not editors — to decide what goes on the front page. We work out of our apartment, but over the last year the site has grown to receive more than 80,000 visitors a day. If you look carefully at articles, you may even see the head of our alien mascot.

Making the decision to go out on our own began during our third year at U.Va., in our living room. Steve mentioned an idea he’d had while pumping gas. I thought the idea was not only clever, but also seemed pretty useful, and he assured me that it’d be no problem for him to build the site. At the time, I was preparing for the LSAT and Steve was looking forward to a great job with a software company he’d been working with for years.

But there was just something about his idea.

A fateful trip to the Waffle House on Route 29 convinced Jack Thorman (A&S ’05) and me that law school wasn’t for us. So I needed something to do, or at least something to tell people when they asked what I’d be doing after graduation.

A job without a boss seemed pretty appealing, and Steve’s idea had continued to grow on me. I remember telling my parents about it, and they were thrilled — even after I explained it meant that for some indefinite period of time, we’d be living the same meager existence we had been in college.

When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. Steve and I didn’t (and still don’t) have any dependents; we’re young, idealistic, and energetic. Although our having started the site might be perceived as something of a risky endeavor, we really chose the least risky time to do it. Heck, we even waited until we got our degrees.

I totally forgot about this interview. You can tell how old it is because I say reddit gets only 80,000 visitors a day. Ah, memories...

(thanks for letting me know, Daniel,!)

Parata... in Vientiane?! Awesome

Christina suggested this pre-dinner snack (delicious!) and I had to ask the owner how long he'd been running his parata stand here in Laos. Ten years. Now that is an impressive business. Needless to say, Vientiane (and Laos) has changed a lot, he said. But business keeps improving!

PhilFAQs gives Hipmunk a glowing review (except for the name)

Hipmunk also has a great travel blog that taught me two things about cities I already know in the first two or three blog posts.  (You can check your bags in for your flight at the train station on your way to Hong Kong airport (highly recommended too, if you travel all the way to the Philippines and do not stop in to see Hong Kong or Macau, shame on you)), and the best dim sum in New York is in Flushing, not China town.  Happy Hipmunk-ing.

We'll take it :) thanks for the great review. I'm especially pleased you highlighted the hipmunk blog, too, which we're hoping lots of savvy travelers (and the aspiring) will find informative and entertaining.