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 reddit.com, 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 Washingtonpost.com 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, AppMakr.com!)
2 responses
Point of clarification: it wasn't the fateful trip to Waffle House that prevented law school; rather, my relentlessly negative attitude toward law school, coupled with the realization that going to law school tends to produce people who become lawyers (or attempt to become lawyers) eventually deflated that misplaced.ambition.

Waffle House was just a reaction to spending 15 or so minutes at the "free" Kaplan diagnostic test/sales pitch on one otherwise average Saturday morning.

Fair enough, Thor :) It convinced me, though. That was a shitty 'free' Kaplan diagnostic test/sales pitch -- WaffleHouse totally trumped that.