You should snag "Startups Open Sourced" -- here's a coupon code for it (or if you act fast...)

I had some fun reminiscing about reddit (and even before reddit, during those awkward high school years and library-entrenched college years) with Jared Tame. Check out this PDF for full interviews with 33 startups (22 of which are Y Combinator).

The coupon code I've gotten to give away to you, dear readers, is makesomethingpeoplelove, but if you hurry and order from AppSumo in the next 2 hours, you can get it for just $7! Hurry!

And if you're too late, you can still get it here. Just use that magic coupon code.

New Director of MIT Media Lab Talks of Encouraging Openness (and WoW-learned leadership skills!)

Q. I’ve seen you quoted about your love of playing World of Warcraft, the multiplayer video game, and how it has taught you to be a better leader. How has online gaming prepared you for this job at the Media Lab?
What’s interesting about a World of Warcraft guild is that you’ve got a group of people who are showing up and actually paying money to play this game, and as a leader of a guild, you’re trying to encourage a bunch of people to do a bunch of administrative work, come up with guild bylaws, and cooperate. And this is similar with volunteers at Creative Commons and open-source projects. It’s trying to lead a bunch of people who are just there because they want to be. It’s a very different kind of management than say managing a bank or an investment bank, where you’ve got sticks and carrots and structure. The leadership method of online communities and World of Warcraft and open-source projects is actually really similar to doing something like leading a bunch of super-smart, creative academics and students.

Quake II and Half-Life clan management is my secret.

"Interview with Dot-com Jedi (Sith?) Alexis Ohanian" from @AGBU Ararat magazine

Fun times. Thanks for the interview. We covered all kinds of things: reddit, breadpig, kiva, hipmunk...

HV: Finally, a less serious question. Is there anything about “being Armenian” you still don’t understand after decades of being one?

AO: Why did it take me 27 years to learn that my last name was one of the more popular surnames back in Armenia? I’ve spent most of my life telling people that I’m not Irish (O’Hanian?) and it turns out I’m practically a “Smith” or “Johnson” back in the motherland.

Let me also say that this also may be one of my favorite photos taken of me. To top it all off, I'm wearing a Saboteur Invincible jacket over a breadpig shirt, "Animal Farm" -- buy one and help us make the world suck a little less.

PRE-ORDER Your copy of Save Yourself, Mammal! (a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal collection)

Published by breadpig, with all of our non-sustainable publisher profits donated to, it'd be a mistake not to pre-order a dozen copies of this book!

Here's Zach's announcement comic and here's a fun-fact: the book contains a mini Choose Your Own Adventure with over 120 entries.

And in case you thought this announcement couldn't get any more aweesome -- we're having a launch party here in Brooklyn on May 8th! Get your ticket here.

Zach, Christina, and I are all looking forward to giving you each a high-five in person.

Interview with @Travolution about the system behind making something people love (@thehipmunk)

Travel search site Hipmunk has increased its monthly active users by 361% and boosted its Facebook likes by 568% thanks to creative marketing campaigns.

In an exclusive interview with Travolution, Hipmunk marketing head and Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian said the site has a product-focused marketing strategy.

“I don’t ever want to have a reliance on putting assets and energy into making people love what we do,” Ohanian said. “I want the focus to be put on making something people love.”

He recommends spending far less on marketing and using the savings to make improvements on products.  This improves customers experience and makes the product easier to market in the first place.

“I watch new users interact with the site for the first time and you see these Hipmunk eureka moments or aha moments where they are like, ‘Wow, this is new, this is useful, this is the way it should be,’” Ohanian said.

“When you have got that as a start and you can associate that with a memorable brand, you have got something that is going to stick around a little longer.”

The company is a heavy user of social media, running on what Ohanian describes as "a self-sustaining feedback loop". Hipmunk uses Facebook and Twitter for quick, inexpensive campaigns, using followers' feedback to influence its next play.

“Because of my tech background, I am used to really iterating quickly and having smaller projects that, if they fail, don’t cost much because it’s just a cheap learning experience,” Ohanian said.

“I am doing the exact same thing with the marketing at Hipmunk. So every week there is something new we are trying.”

One of Ohanian's favourites is the 'Hipmunk Me' contest, in which users could generate a personalised version of the company's furry mascot. The contest cost very little but doubled the company's Facebook likes in a day.

Hipmunk me

An anti-ad campaign featuring spoof photos of advertising ruining famous landmarks proved another success.

Hipmunk ad

Once these campaigns began to generate interest, the Hipmunk team started engaging users. “One of the things companies can do is to try to make someone’s day,” Ohanian said.

“The best way to do this is with a strike force of happiness. In other words a group of people just monitoring Facebook and, monitoring Twitter that are not PR people but are human beings who are capable of just speaking like human beings to their users.

"These people have the authority to make $25 decisions to further encourage and engage customers. Companies can gain loads of new users that way.”

It's the same playbook I used for growing reddit and breadpig, only there are so many more people now actively online that concepts spread a lot further and faster.

@Reddit co-founder inspires students at UPenn [with silly cat photos]

Thanks, Nicole (for the article) and all of you who showed up to hear my talk last night at UPenn. I think I really lowered the level of discourse at this esteemed Ivy League university. Though that shirt is technically Red Lobster dressed in an alien costume (thanks, Hadley!) and they're called "redditors" not "redditters" (but hey I totally made up that word anyway), you really highlighted what I hoped to get across to a room full of talented students:


Engineering freshman Trisha Kothari was also encouraged by Ohanian’s speech. “He was a really funny speaker and really inspiring too,” Kothari said. “He made me realize that if I want to start something, now is the best time. I have nothing to lose.”