Reddit Co-Founder: Failure is an Option

By Kate Rogers Small Business FOXBusiness

Reddit Founder: We Need More Women in Tech's Kate Rogers with entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian on Reddit's growth success, taking risks as an entrepreneur and getting more women into the world of tech.

Ever wonder what the “resume of the future” will look like? Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said it won’t be packed with grade point averages and extracurricular activities. Instead, he said it will have risks listed as achievements.

Continue Reading Below

“Entrepreneurship is all about failure,” he said. “It’s unlearning what is a big part of higher education. You have to take chances, and be wrong and make a better decision next time.”

When hiring, Ohanian said he wants to see people who are willing to take small chances and risk, without asking for permission. The internet has made this easier than ever, with platforms like Kickstarter, you can take a chance and if the public likes what it sees, your dreams can come to fruition.

“In our industry, we can’t hire enough people. Technology is one of the few industries that’s hiring like gangbusters,” Ohanian said. “The resumes of the future will put a lot more weight on what you have done.”

One thing is for sure—Ohanian’s resume is packed. He laid the seeds for Reddit as an undergrad at the University of Virginia, with his friend Steve Huffman, and the two launched the site shortly after graduating in 2005. Today, he is a board member for the popular online community, and also manages two additional tech startups—breadpig and Hipmunk.

More On This...

Ohanian also invests in a portfolio of 60 other tech companies, and is an active proponent for the burgeoning tech community in New York.  In the past several years, he estimates he has created at least 1,000 jobs in the tech sector.

Continue Reading Below

Eight years after Reddit launched, President Obama held a question-and-answer session on the platform that Ohanian created while still in college—his entrepreneurial ambitions coming full circle.

“Having the president use the product is really just the dream,” he said. “We got started at UVA, and years later President Obama is in Charlottesville, Virginia, hosting a forum [on Reddit].”

But having such a far-reaching platform can also bring unintended consequences. Reddit has been criticized for what some consider to be sexist forums created by users, and Ohanian recently took to the Web to speak out against those perpetuating this on the site, and in the tech world in general.

His comments were in response to the firing of Adria Richards, who lost her job at SendGrid after tweeting a photo of two men sitting behind her at a tech conference, saying they were making crude remarks. The backlash against Richards grew and Ohanian decided to speak out on the issue.

The post was called “Dear Fellow Geeks: WTF,” and Ohanian said he hopes it will curb the sexist content seen on the Web overall, not just his site.

“This is something that unfortunately affects all of social media,” he said. “Twitter has Nazi accounts, and the Westboro Baptist Church account. These platforms are mostly used by good people, but there are some people saying really awful stuff that debased the whole [Richards] conversation.”

Having your product used in a way it isn’t intended is both a “gift and a curse,” Ohanian said.

“These communication platforms are reflecting us as people—you hope it’s used for the best, and most of the time it is. And when it’s not, that is what people harp on.”

What do you think?

Click the button below to comment on this article.