Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian didn’t give a typical speech.
But then again, Ohanian, who has the self-professed aim of “making the world suck less,” isn’t your typical speaker.
Ohanian, co-founded what is now one of the Web’s most visited sites with friend Steve Huffman after the two graduated from the University of Virginia in 2005. He spoke here Monday night to promote his new book, “Without Their Permission: How The 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.” The book discusses the power of Internet entrepreneurship and how it can be used to achieve philanthropic goals.
The event, co-sponsored by the School of Information and the University’s chapter of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, drew a crowd of about 500 University students, faculty members and the public.
Ohanian started off the event with a 40-minute presentation discussing why he wrote the book and finished with a catalogue of pictures, as he jokingly compared images of the Wolverine action figure and wolverines, using Internet memes to illustrate his points.
Ohanian also responded to the most up-voted questions — questions voted the most popular by users from the University Reddit page and took several live questions.
University alum Jeff Kirschner was also interviewed by Ohanian during the event. Kirschner founded Litterati, a crowd-sourced organization that uses Instagram and geo-tagging to identify and remove litter in communities worldwide.
During the onstage interview, Kirschner and Ohanian advised listeners to embrace their mistakes.
“It’s really hard to not to be afraid to fail because we are all taught not to fail,” Kirschner said. “But making mistakes is OK; it’s more than okay because in order to get somewhere, you have to make mistakes.”
Afterward, there was a meet-and-greet book signing and networking event with Ohanian, hosted exclusively for University students.
“It was really inspiring, especially for a younger crowd, to hear a message from someone who’s established that entrepreneurship is a viable option.” said Business sophomore Jiaxin Zheng. “I want to go into entrepreneurship but am often discouraged by statistics about how many small startups fail, so I found him very inspiring.”