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Inside the rise of Alexis Ohanian, the cofounder of Reddit and husband to Serena Williams

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The Baltimore, Maryland-raised Ohanian initially thought he wanted to become a lawyer before an epiphany at a Waffle House made him realize he’d rather be an entrepreneur. He and his college best friend, Steve Huffman, went on to create Reddit, the online community site known as “the front page of the internet.” Today, the company is worth billions.

Since selling Reddit in 2006, Ohanian has invested in startups through his venture capital firm, fought against federal bills that would have stifled internet innovation, and married tennis superstar Serena Williams.

Here’s how Ohanian got his start and helped build one of the cornerstones of the internet. He gave the student address at his high school graduation. “I was not the valedictorian; they just let anyone audition for the speech,” Ohanian wrote on YouTube.

While at university, Ohanian met Steve Huffman, who would be his Reddit cofounder. “I was terrified that no one played video games in college. But when I arrived at my dorm at the University of Virginia, Steve was playing Gran Turismo 2, and I was like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ We lived together all four years of college, then almost five years after,” Ohanian told Inc in 2012. The summer after their junior year, Ohanian and Huffman came up with the idea for a mobile food ordering company called MyMobileMenu and spent the following year working on it. They pitched it to Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham, who initially rejected them. The next day, however, Graham called them back and said he would accept them into the startup accelerator but not their business idea. “You guys need to build the front page of the internet,” Graham told them, according to Inc.

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