Mar 4, 2024 - Business

Reddit's Virginia roots

Illustration of the Reddit logo with an antenna shaped like an upward trending stock arrow.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Reddit, the online forum, officially filed late last month to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, in a large deal experts say will be a major test to the U.S. IPO market, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.

  • That's in part because Reddit plans to reward its most loyal users during the IPO by allowing some to buy shares before the stock starts trading, per Axios' Hope King.

Why it matters: Today the community message board is one of the most visited websites in the world (coming in just after PornHub), but it got its start around 20 years ago in a UVA dorm.

State of play: We thought it'd be fun to take a quick look back at the site's Virginia roots ahead of its historic IPO offering.

Flashback: Reddit co-founders Steve Huffman, who grew up in NoVa, and Alexis Ohanian, from just outside of Baltimore, met as UVA freshmen — sorry, first years — assigned to dorm rooms across the hall from each other in Hancock House, they told Virginia Magazine.

  • The two became fast friends and later roommates, who as seniors — sorry, fourth years — took the train up to Boston during spring break 2005 for the inaugural (now famous) Y Combinator startup incubator.
  • They went armed with a pitch for a mobile food-ordering system that nobody at Y seemed to like, but they liked the UVA students and planted the seeds for the concept that would become Reddit, per Vanity Fair.

The guys returned to C-ville, finished out their last year of college while noodling the concept before heading back up to Boston for the summer to build the thing.

The latest: Today, the onetime roommates can be found on separate coasts, far from Charlottesville.

  • Huffman lives in San Francisco, where he serves as Reddit's CEO.
  • Ohanian resigned from Reddit's board in 2020 (he wanted to make room for a person of color) and spends his time just outside Miami, where he lives with his two daughters and wife, tennis pro and three-time Olympian Serena Williams.
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