- A laugh riot
- CEO profile: Henry Ketcham
- CEO profile: Jürgen Schreiber
- CEO profile: Jim Shaw
- CEO Profile: John Beck
- CEO profile: Lino Saputo
- CEO Profile: Nancy Southern
- CEO Profile: Paul Reynolds
- CEO Profile: Terry Leon
- Chatelaine -New Year Resolutions
- Chatelaine health briefs
- Chatelaine: defuse your temper
- Chatelaine: exercise rut
- Chatelaine: farmer’s market
- Chatelaine: serenity on route
- Chatelaine: Walk off 10 pounds
- Clippy, I hardly knew thee
- Crocs lose footing
- dandyhorse – bike summit
- dandyhorse- door prize
- dandyhorse- Marvel
- dandyhorse- Rockers who Roll
- Diamond industry
- Divorce planning
- Entourage: accountant
- Entourage: clothier
- Entourage: doctor
- Entourage: financial advisor
- Entourage: lawyer
- Entreprenuer of the year: Ven Coté
- Family File – Divorce
- Family file: can we retire?
- Family file: cancer
- Family file: ditch the suburbs
- Family file: first home
- Family file: how big a slice?
- Family file: newlyweds
- Family file: religion
- Family file: self-employed
- Family file: too much, too soon?
- FP column – philanthropy
- A Good Night’s Sleep
- Bikes for Tykes
- Boomer philanthropy
- Corporate philanthropy day
- Detecting Fraud
- Doing well and good; Entrepreneurs and art gallery owners make charity their business
- Donations down
- First responders heed Haiti’s call
- Fraud and the Banyan Tree
- Freedom from Four Eyes
- Girl Impact
- give a day to help fight AIDS
- mental health and addiction
- the silent issue
- FP column: Entourage
- FP column: portfolio repair
- FP Mag – Job Shadow – Chef
- Fp500: Booms, busts and aggro
- How to stand out
- Impunity in Canada
- Job Shadow- chalk artist
- Laid off?
- Money from nothin’
- Money from nothin’
- Sex in the newsroom
- Social Enterprise
- Spraypaint scripture
- The colour of money
- The Colour of Money
- The refinance itch
- To you, I’m fluff
- When you hear layoff rumours…
A Q&A with reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian
Join Fast Company's Miles Kohrman at 12:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 8, for a live chat with reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian about his new book, Without Their Permission.
The "Without Their Permission" book tour takes you to 75 universities across the country, so I think it’s appropriate to start our conversation with the subject of education.
In a nutshell, one of your core points is that if an entrepreneur's service or product is needed, and people really want it, they will find success. The things that need fixing, however daunting the market and stiff the competition, can be changed with the right--and often simple--ideas.
Higher education seems like the perfect example of the kind of bureaucracy that can be revolutionized by the Internet, do you agree?
You talk about free resources to learn coding like Code Academy. Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman taught himself to code. What will the Internet--where a college-level education is rapidly approaching a price tag of zero--do to the traditional model of higher-education? How much of your success as an entrepreneur do you credit to experiences inside the classroom?
It's going to be mighty awkward because the cost of tuition has basically not been in check with reality for a while now. This has got to change. Especially as more and more solutions (like General Assembly, Flatiron School, Dev bootcamp) are much cheaper and provide careers (though not currently accreditation) right now.
One of the stories people seem to love the most (and my uni probably hates the most) from my book is that I was not allowed into the Entrepreneurship class at McIntire (UVA) while I was a senior there. I'd already founded an LLC with Steve Huffman (redbrick solutions LLC!) and this wasn't a hypothetical company for some class project -- it was my life.
Most devs, like Steve, or really any CTO you talk to, was largely self-taught thanks to the internet. And the resources that are freely available online have only gotten better over the years.
I don’t think it’s naive to say that all college and high school students will see code in their classrooms in a matter of time. In twenty years our politicians might be active reddit users. Is the Internet moving society in a clear direction? If yes, what will increased transparency, and participation, do not only to our society but our politics?
Agreed! Look at Estonia leading the way - teaching all public school first graders onward how to code. This should be a headline about the USA.
Hopefully our politicians will at least be aware of technology, and not blissfully ignorant as many appear to be today. Take for instance Rep Watt during the House Judiciary Committee meeting about SOPA. It's not OK to not know how the internet works.
The blueprint I lay out in WTP is to show people a way to get us the politicians we deserve, who not only understand this world changing technology, but also our rights to privacy on it (hi, NSA!), and we'll hopefully start electing even better politicians into office because they're using the internet to better represent us.
For instance, Watsi.org has a public google doc that shows their real-time finances.
One day every nonprofit will need to have this level of transparency or else no one would give money to them. Why not for our campaign fundraising?
Ah yes, you must own a time machine (can I borrow it and kill Hitler when you're done?) -- this future is a great one, because the debates and discussions we'll be having in Congress will actually be nuanced and thoughtful about technology. There are important discussions to be had about the tradeoffs between digital privacy and digital security, for instance, but right now it's being mostly had by people with little to no regard for reality.
That future congress would also be better positioned to make sure that access to the internet was seen as a utility like potable water and electricity, so we'd be discussing the most efficient ways to bring it to all Americans (assuming we hadn't already). Combine that with a push to bring digital literacy to the forefront of education and we're now (hopefully) having reasonable smart discussion about how best to bring all Americans to this playing field so that they can all achieve their maximum levels of awesome.
There would still be no shortage of cat photos, at least.
We've got a lot of questions coming in, so I'd like to turn the conversation to the subject of entrepreneurship.
At Fast Company we’ll often step away from the successes of startups and their founders and focus on what we call “passion pitfalls.” Obviously, you’re a man of good ideas. How can other entrepreneurs identify the flaws, and ultimately allow themselves to let go, of ideas that don’t work?
Don't get married to your ideas. EVERYONE has great ideas. Ever heard someone say: "Oh, I have this TERRIBLE idea."? No, because we all think our ideas are amazing.
Instead, get into a habit of testing them, launching them, doing them. Whether it's a kickstarter or an iOS game, or anything. At some point, you'll need to call it quits on an idea that isn't working. These days we call it a "pivot" but it's really just failing and changing/adapting. That's OK! Everyone does it. Everyone is doing it. Even FastCo was like 'hey let's try this AMA thing" and I was like "Cool, I'm gonna do video answers" then a bunch of users said "This is terrible we can't hear/watch them" so we were all like "OK, stupid idea, we failed, let's go back to text"
There is no secret to knowing exactly when to change course, and plenty of people have succeeded by gutting it out, so I can't tell you specifics, but if you launched an idea that just is not getting any traction after a few months and you keep troubleshooting every week with some new approach/tactic/etc w/o any progress, it's probably time to move on. But that's OK!
Today in Fast Company we talked about the lack of diversity in the startup world. One study found that only 1% of startups that got funded in early 2010 had even one black team member. One of the mantras of your book is “all links are created equal” but obviously there’s still a discrepancy, can you speak to this?
The platform is itself democratic in that all links are crated equal (as long as Verizon doesn't get its way) but society, unfortunately, is not. That's why I'm such a huge supporter of orgs like Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code and DonorsChoose.org -- shameless plug: I'm fundraising for all STEM projects in brookyln and the grandprize for the raffle is a year of mentorship from me.
Oh and how can I forget nycgenerationtech.com where i just 2 weeks ago judged their pitch finale.
This will not correct itself, which is why these orgs are so important. And because wealth (and value) is created so quickly and massively thanks to the internet (e.g. dropbox goes from being made in a bus station to multi-billion $ company in 5 years only happens because of the internet) that means the people who have the access and the skills have a huge advantage and we risk creating an even bigger divide in this country.
www.platform.org is an awesome concept -- I'd love it even more if there were no mention of being "TED for people of color" -- just start an awesome TED-like event and community, have a bunch of people of color and don't say anything about it. These are not "awesome people of color on stage" but simply "awesome people on stage."
view from my judge's seat at nycgenerationtech.com - proud to be a part!
Katy, it's all good. It's been happening for years now and fortunately people are getting better about at least citing. Even Gawker has grudgingly started putting "via reddit" at the bottom of articles they've harvested. There's really nothing that can be done about it, but hope people do the right thing. Social media platforms like reddit, twitter, tumblr, etc are always going to be able to discover and create new content faster and more creatively than even a room full of the smartest, wittiest, best-smelling editors and writers.
It is invisible because I do not have one.
Phonecalls are the devil. Really you just need my email, so I'm in the habit of collecting a card from someone and pinging them there OR just emailing them from my smartphone right on the spot. Ta-Da! No cards. But if you insist on carrying some deadtree in your pocket just go to moocards and be done with it.
A friend of mine recently hypothesized that companies like Google and Apple are the General Motors and AIG of our generation — that they may one day grow to be so large that they'll be deemed "too big to fail," and their collapse could have serious ramifications for the global economy. Do you think there's some validity to that idea?
(Also relevant: Books are the new business cards.)
Interesting.... I've never really thought of this. My *hope* is that software + hardware companies are difference from auto manuf. and insurance, but given how much the world depends on Google (and to some extent Apple) I see what you're saying. Let's hope they keep printing money? I'd be more concerned about the GOOG only because there is so much of our everyday lives (private and public) tied into google that it feels much more likely to be a 'too big to fail' candidate.... Way to bring me down, KimboSlyce.
Yes, but I'm lucky because the founders I meet with tend to be really amazing. Doing signings at the first few book events has been like doing open office hours to some extent because there are so many hungry entrepreneurs who I love chatting up. I'm hopelessly addicted to coffee, though, so that probably helps, too. Biggie taught me to always stay hungry, like I'm an intern, and treat every day like it's my first day -- so it does feel pretty much the same, even though I'm definitely older and have more senior moments these days.
Some added context: In his question, Leroy is referring to Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator.
Yes, you bring up a good point. There's a great John Gilmore quote about this "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."
The internet is a resourceful platform, but we as humans are also pretty damn resourceful. One way or another, just like Chinese activists circumvent the "Great Firewall" every day, people will continue to find ways to keep the internet going and keep getting to the ideas they want to express and consume.