Full day in Philly for Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian


Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is on an epic book tour: five months, 150 stops.

On Monday, Philadelphia hosted three of those stops: a tech breakfast with local executives, a pizza-side chat at First Round Capital and an early evening event at UPenn.

The man knows how to hustle.

“I want to just help these startups be great,” Ohanian said at the day’s second stop. “A conversation with a successful founder isn’t necessarily going to change your life, it isn’t necessarily going to give you the light bulb that makes your company 10X or whatever it is, but hopefully it’s helpful. And that’s the kind of atmosphere I expect at a place like this.”

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Ohanian says his new book, “Without Their Permission,” is “about how the Internet is empowering people to be awesome.” The format at First Round was conversational, with equal parts question and answer from Ohanian and Gabriel Weinberg, the Philly-area CEO and founder of search engine DuckDuckGo.

“He’s like an Internet celebrity, that’s why you’re here,” said Weinberg, whose Founded in Philly organized the event. “It’s great to bring people to Philly from the Internet celebrity realm — just to give people a sense that we’re connected to that greater scene.”

Weinberg said the goal is to help Philly inch ever upward in startup prominence. The way he sees it, the area could soon threaten Austin, Seattle and Boulder for second-tier status of U.S. tech cities. The top tier — Silicon Valley, New York and Boston, according to Weinberg — is still a ways off.

“We just need more big exits, is the honest answer,” he said.

About 80 people attended the talk at First Round. By a show of hands, almost all worked for area startups.

Ohanian — who remains on the board of Reddit, is a founder of other web companies and is also an active investor — urged attendees to “care more” and “stay hungry.” Making the next wave of cool things on the Internet takes passion and hard work, he said.

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