Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, bought 50,000 Ethereum for just $15,000 during the cryptocurrency’s presale in 2014, paying only 30 cents per coin. His interest in Ethereum stemmed from his Armenian heritage and its history of persecution by the state. He found the idea of a decentralized store of value very attractive, so he took an early gamble on Ethereum.
Early Bet On Ethereum Pays Off
In an interview with Forbes, Ohanian claimed that his great-aunt Vera played a significant role in shaping his views on opportunity and sacrifice. She recounted to him the atrocities of the Armenian genocide of 1915, where an estimated 1.5 million people were killed, and emphasized the need to make the most of opportunities.
Ohanian explained how Turkish soldiers seized his family’s inheritance of heirloom rugs. Hence, the idea of a store of value that is not controlled by any single state appealed to him, especially for a group of people who have had the collective experience of persecution.
His affinity for decentralized currency and other digital assets has led him to invest in 29 startups that use cryptocurrency’s underlying blockchain technology. In February 2022, Ohanian raised $500 million, mainly to finance such companies.
He describes himself as a “crypto pragmatist,” supporting U.S. regulation while managing the passwords known as private keys for some of his most valuable assets. This practice, called self-custody, is a crucial step for ensuring that some of his personal holdings remain out of reach of the government or anybody else.
In August 2022, the collapse of FTX stranded billions of dollars of customers’ digital assets on the exchange, and a $176 million fund Ohanian was on the verge of raising evaporated.
However, his family history steeled him to double down on his commitment to invest in cryptocurrency. For him, cryptocurrency volatility is worth it since many countries worldwide have experienced massive inflation.
Ohanian’s business acumen began when he collected and traded Panini-branded NFL trading cards with his father. In 2005, he co-founded Reddit, a social network consisting of quasi-anonymous users joining special-interest communities called subreddits.
The social network was sold to publishing giant Conde Nast for $10 million in 2006. He flew to Armenia for the first time in 2010 and reconnected with his father’s roots while volunteering at the Yerevan offices of San Francisco microfinance firm Kiva.
Nevertheless, Ohanian’s early investment in Ethereum has proven to be a profitable decision, and his affinity for the decentralized currency has driven him to invest in blockchain startups. His commitment to cryptocurrency has been tested, but he remains undaunted in the face of market volatility.
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