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News

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to deliver 2014 Commencement address

  • Alexis Ohanian, entrepreneur and co-founder of Reddit, will deliver the 2014 Commencement address. Photo by Tanya Kechichian.
    Alexis Ohanian, entrepreneur and co-founder of Reddit, will deliver the 2014 Commencement address. Photo by Tanya Kechichian.
    Tanya Kechichian
April 29, 2014

Carthage is proud to announce that Alexis Ohanian, best known as the co-founder of social news website reddit, will address the Class of 2014 at the Commencement ceremony.

Mr. Ohanian, who turned 31 on April 24, is an entrepreneur, investor, and author. Today he sits on the board at reddit inc., which attracted more than 150 million unique visitors in the past month and has grown into one of the 50 biggest sites in the United States.

“What a perfect speaker to send off our new graduates. As one of the rising stars of his generation, Alexis Ohanian brings many of the same qualities we work to instill in our students. His success shows just how far the spirit of entrepreneurship, foresight to adapt to changing technology, and dedication to charity can take you.”

— President Gregory Woodward

See the 2014 Commencement Schedule

“What a perfect speaker to send off our new graduates,” said Carthage President Gregory Woodward. “As one of the rising stars of his generation, Alexis Ohanian brings many of the same qualities we work to instill in our students. His success shows just how far the spirit of entrepreneurship, foresight to adapt to changing technology, and dedication to charity can take you.”

With more than 80 technology startups in his portfolio, Mr. Ohanian is one of the most prominent investors in the tech industry. He focuses on Breadpig, which publishes books featuring popular web comics and produces “geeky” novelties. More than $200,000 of its profits has been donated to worthy causes.

He’s also Ambassador to the East for the seed stage venture firm Y Combinator and co-founder of the nonprofit Institute on Higher Awesome Studies. Mr. Ohanian’s book, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed,” debuted as a national bestseller.

At the University of Virginia, Mr. Ohanian majored in business and history with a minor in German. Though he had planned to become an immigration lawyer, Mr. Ohanian experienced an epiphany in his junior year (while sitting in a Waffle House) that he didn’t want to practice law. Instead he convinced his best friend, Steve Huffman, to start a company with him.

Reddit, which went live in 2005, relies on “redditors” to decide which stories and discussions deserve top placement. The site is known for its “Ask Me Anything” celebrity chat sessions, as well as the many charitable initiatives the online community has spawned.

Sixteen months after Mr. Ohanian graduated from college, Condé Nast acquired reddit. He continued to manage the product and business until leaving in 2010 to volunteer in Armenia as a Kiva Fellow.

Later that year, Mr. Ohanian joined the team at online travel company Hipmunk, Mr. Huffman’s second startup through Y Combinator. He helped create the company’s brand identity and managed its marketing and public relations before shifting to an advisory role.

Mr. Ohanian became one of the public faces for the movement that thwarted two controversial bills to greatly expand the U.S. government’s power to combat copyright infringement: the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act. He continues to fight for Internet freedom on a variety of projects.

He sits on former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York City Council on Tech and Innovation. In 2013, he launched a web show called “Small Empires” that explores New York tech startups.

Along the way, Mr. Ohanian has been named to the Forbes “30 Under 30 in Technology” two years in a row, and included in Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30” for his work at Hipmunk. He’s a regular contributor on Bloomberg TV and appeared on the “Colbert Report.”

During his epic book tour, he spoke at 77 universities including Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Pennsylvania, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has given a TED talk, spoken to companies such as Google, Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, and Kraft, and even keynoted an entrepreneurship summit in Cairo organized by the U.S. Department of State just months after the Egyptian revolution.

Commencement caps three days of events for 2014 Carthage graduates. The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, May 25, in the N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center Field House. Each participating graduate receives five tickets to distribute among family and friends.

For guests who cannot attend the ceremony in person, it will be streamed live online beginning at 2:30 p.m. Find links at http://live.carthage.edu.

Find more information on Commencement weekend activities