"Failure is an option," says Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. "We call it a pivot now in tech." He should know: during his hour-long talk at UC Irvine, he covered how he and his business partner got turned down by prestigious seed capital firm Y Combinator, only to have the company call them back and ask them to start over on a new idea. That new idea became Reddit, one of the most popular social news sites around. He's also involved in flight-hacking startup Hipmunk (which breaks down the traditional round-trip airfare model by including different airlines for each leg of your trip) and has invested in more than 60 other startups.
Ohanian was both hilarious and downright pushy, coupling a humorous gem such as "Sucking is the first step to being sorta good at something … and I'm quoting a cartoon dog. Go forth and suck. Don't quote that out of context," with more demanding advice such as "learn to code" and "ideas are worthless." [Editor's note: He quotes Jake the Dog, pictured here on the screen behind Ohanian while speaking at UCI on January 22.]
His new book, "Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed," is about the power of the "connected internet."