Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the front page of the internet, stopped by the Thomas building to talk about his book, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed” and the importance of entrepreneurship in the new technology driven generation Saturday night.
Ohanian founded reddit in 2005 with fellow University of Virginia graduate Steve Huffman. Since its creation, reddit has become one of the most popular websites on the internet — per Alexa, which ranks sites by the number of page views and unique visitors it has every month, reddit was the 69th most visited website in the world in January 2013.
“It’s Saturday night and you’re here listening to a dude talk about the Internet. I question your judgment, but I thank you,” Ohanian began jokingly.
Ohanian’s tour stop focused strongly on the themes of entrepreneurship and the changing face of the workplace. He described his hometown of Boston as a less than perfect area to form a startup.
“When we got into it, startups were not cool. We were in Boston and startup communities were much smaller,” Ohanian said.
Ohanian’s stop at Penn State was one of more than 77 universities and over 200 locations on his tour. He said he made sure to stop at as many colleges that could because of the trend in startup entrepreneurship on campuses.
“There is more hunger here,” Ohanian said about the entrepreneurial spirit at Penn State. “The attitude the atmosphere has been kind of overwhelming.”
Most of all, Ohanian emphasized that the title of his book was the key to successful entrepreneurship — this is, it doesn’t take permission to try new things and experiment.
“I think more and more students are realizing that they can go outside of their curriculum to learn stuff and do stuff,” Ohanian said. “I have visited dozens of hacker houses that are entirely or somewhat student run.”
Ohanian told stories of some of the early struggles of reddit, and used that conversation to encourage the audience to go out and put their ideas to the test, without being afraid of failure. At times, Ohanian even called out a random audience member and put them on the spot to talk about their ideas and projects.
“Sucking is the first step at being good at something…Go forth and suck,” Ohanian said. “Obviously, don’t take that out of context.”