Alexis Ohanian, Angel Investor and Mayor of the Internet
Who exactly is Alexis Ohanian? Forbes dubbed him the Mayor of the Internet in 2012, and the label stuck. But as a young success story with much of his career ahead of him, the man himself remains something of a mystery to many people. So let's take a closer look at the 36-year-old businessman, who exactly he is, and where he's going next.
Ohanian is best known for co-founding Reddit, the "front page of the internet, spawning a generation of Redditors and their seemingly innumerable subreddits along the way. The platform now provides advice, assistance, amusement, and information to users around the world. Need to know how to reset a Walmart photo kiosk because the employees won't help? Reddit has the passcode and the instructions. Need a pick-me-upup during the afternoon? Check out the subreddit /r/birdswitharms, dedicated to photos of - you guessed it - birds with arms.
Those are just a few scattered examples, but the point is that Ohanian essentially helped to consolidate the internet on a single platform, helping and entertaining millions of people along the way. It's now the fifth-most popular site in the U.S. (at least as of the time of this writing), according to Alexa. And even as he established this unique, highly successful platform, Ohanian managed to launch Breadpig, a company that creates all things geek.
Somewhat incredibly, a man behind one of the internet's busiest websites is perhaps most famous for something else entirely: his marriage to tennis superstar Serena Williams. Williams is a larger-than-life figure: an all-time champion who just won runner-up at Wimbledon at the age of 37 despite missing a significant chunk of the past three seasons due to pregnancy, illness, and injury. Even now, she's considered by most to be the best player in the WTA, and it's a virtual certainty that online betting services will list her as the favorite for the late-summer U.S. Open. She may not have won a Grand Slam tournament in a few years, but the odds are always in Williams's favor.
This is all to say that Williams's fame is greater than Ohanian's, at least in all but perhaps some niche tech and entrepreneurism circles. As such, she's helped to bring him into the public eye by way of their marriage. It's now common to see Ohanian seated at her matches cheering her on, as well as supporting her consistent social media activism efforts. The wedding between the two was admired by large swaths of the public and was a gorgeous affair, resulting in multiple magazine showcases. And now they have a beautiful daughter together - a girl who was nevertheless named Alexis, after her father.
Between his own success as an internet investor and Williams's lucrative tennis and endorsement earnings, Ohanian could undoubtedly retire now and live out the rest of his life in luxury. However, this doesn't appear to be in his DNA (nor in that of Williams). Throughout his rise to internet prominence, Ohanian demonstrated a consistent focus on making the world a better place. He was a partner at the accelerator Y Combinator, a company that helps startups (including non-profits) get off the ground. He's also helped to push along legislative efforts involving the internet, making sure there's a voice in Washington speaking on behalf of internet freedom. He's even done good through Breadpig - we didn't mention before that it donates all of its profits.
While he calls himself an angel investor, Ohanian says he's interested in helping others, or "making the world suck less," as he has put it on numerous occasions. His humility in recognizing that he's not the smartest person in the room (or the world) helps him keep things in perspective.
These attitudes lead to the natural conclusion that Ohanian isn't done creating or seeking to do good. Through various quotes over the years he's indicated a belief that given factual information, people tend to do good. Our bet is that he'll continue to pursue efforts to make sure that this is just what happens - that people gain access to truth and information, and that as a result the world becomes a friendlier and more welcoming place.