Alexis Ohanian: Co-Founder of Reddit — Fusion Mental Map, by Latoya Peterson, Miguel Costa and Omar Bustamante

The Beginning

“I was this nerdy kid in Columbia, Maryland and my parents didn’t understand technology at all. They had been convinced by my cousin to buy a computer for me. This was not a trivial purchase, but they were like – “okay, you know what? Let’s do it.” And it changed my life. [A]n internet connection came maybe two years after – and that was like, total game change. And when I think about all that has happened since then, it was just a direct result of having that good fortune of getting access, getting the support.”

First Computer

“[My first computer was the] 486 SX – the DX was faster, but my parents were like “no, that’s too expensive.” And it was still good enough, don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t play all the video games I wanted, but it was fine.”

“[The internet] made schoolwork feel so silly. I made websites for adults who didn’t know I was a kid, because I would go on these message boards for non profits and just say like “who needs a website?” I would make [web pages] for them, not for money, just for pride. I was doing this through high school.

[I]t was so empowering because I’d be doing this BS schoolwork and I’d come home and have adults who were grateful to my skills as a developer, and as a kid that was my ticket, that like flipped the switch in my head, and made me so hungry because I felt power.”

Web Skills

“[Being online I] was either playing video games or learning HTML to build websites about playing video games. Geocities, Angelfire [web pages] – I had them all. Tripod. For a minute there, I had a midi website. I would download these midi files, which were synthesized music files, of video game theme songs or movie theme songs and just host them.”

Quake 2 / Angelfire

“I remember my first Geocities site – it was a Quake 2 fan page. And like black background, really cheesy, animated gifs of fire, and rocket launchers and stuff, it was so lame. I had blink tags and pop ups.”

Metallica Black Album

“I grew up [a] hardcore Metallica [fan]. [My screen name on Reddit] kn0thing [is] from King Nothing, I just put a zero in there. Like, “cool, I’m a gamer, I can put a zero instead of an o.”

“[M]y life was dominated by metal pretty much until I got to college and then I felt like rock had just like fallen off, and then I discovered all the hip hop I was missing. I still tend to like [Nine Inch] Nails and Metallica from time to time. Those are the two that have stuck with me. Blueprint, Blueprint 2, Downward Spiral, Pretty Hate Machine. Man, I would play a lot of Quake 2 to PHM. I mean Trent Reznor, he did the soundtrack for the first Quake game, he might have helped with the concept for the second Quake. Yeah. And oh, fun fact: there’s a nail gun in Quake and if you look very closely, the branding on it is Nine Inch Nails. The N – I – Backwards N.”

Masters of Doom

[“Masters of Doom is] the story of iD software, and it’s not – like it’s a well written book, it’s not like amazeballs, but it was well written enough that I got into the story about the founding of this company that I played all these video games of that made me think, hey me and my friend (Steve Huffman) could probably start a company too.“

Starting Reddit

“So Steve and I lived across the hall from each other freshman year at the University of Virginia. I saw him playing video games freshman year and I got really excited because I was worried that no one else played video games. I needed someone’s coattails that I could ride on and Steve’s were perfect. And at this point, we knew we were going to start this company – [our first idea] was called My Mobile Menu. We knew we were going to start this and he had heard of [Y Combinator’s] Paul [Graham] online and knew he was giving a talk and it was our senior year spring break, so we thought “why not? Let’s just go to Boston instead of Cancun and hear this dude give a talk on how to start a start up.” Yeah, we were nerds. It’s true.”

-Excerpt and images courtesy of Fusion Interactive. Check out the full profile: Alexis Ohanian — Mental Map, by Latoya Peterson, Miguel Costa and Omar Bustamante.

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