Masterclass: Alexis Ohanian teaches the Startup Playbook.

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Born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 24, 1983, and raised in Columbia, Maryland, Alexis launched his first business soon after completing degrees in commerce and history at the University of Virginia. Ditching his plan to become a lawyer, he partnered with a friend, Steve Huffman, and pitched a mobile food-delivery app to the American startup accelerator Y Combinator in 2005.

YC rejected the concept but accepted Alexis and Huffman, agreeing to back their idea for a user-driven online media aggregator and discussion forum called Reddit; the following year, it was sold to publishing conglomerate Condé Nast for a sum that, according to a 2020 tweet from Alexis’s personal account, exceeded his parents’ lifetime earnings. 

In 2007 Alexis and Huffman launched Breadpig, which offers business aid to creators and donates proceeds from merchandise sales to nonprofits; Hipmunk, a travel website, arrived in 2010.

Funding the business of others

Alexis launched two companies—Das Kapital Capital and Initialized Capital, the latter in partnership with Canadian American designer and engineer Garry Tan—before founding Seven Seven Six, which provides seed funding with a focus on empathy, equity, and inclusion, in 2020.

Funded businesses: Patreon, Impossible Foods

Alexis joined the fight against the U.S. Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA)—legislation that was intended to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting but could have curbed free speech and crippled many web businesses.

By dialoguing with Reddit users, leading digital protests, and voicing his concerns to members of Congress, Alexis helped stymie both bills. He detailed that fight in his bestselling 2013 book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.

In March 2022, Alexis announced the 776 Fellowship, an offshoot of Seven Seven Six that will provide mentorship and $100,000 grants to young people with big ideas on fighting climate change. 


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Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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