Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian Talks Early Bitcoin Investments and Crypto Market Performance


Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian Still Has Faith In Bitcoin, Despite Market Performance

Alexis Ohanian’s experience has been fairly atypical and exciting for the last year. In September last year, he welcomed a child with partner Serena Williams. In February, he made the choice to step away from Reddit as he developed a venture capital firm called Initialized Capital, leaving Reddit to their own devices under the ownership of Condé Nast. Now, it is time to focus on the things that are the most important.

On the decision to change things up, Ohanian said,

“I’ve wanted for a long time to get back to early stage founders to be the ‘first check’ in Initialized. It’s a lot of fun, frankly. I get to come home and have really good dinner table conversations about the things I did at work, and it’s always [about] meeting new founders, learning about the future and then sometimes rolling up my sleeves.”

Initialized Capital was actually founded with Garry Tan in 2011, and they have since been responsible for the financing of many ventures, like Instacart and Cruise. Ohanian’s work as an investor in Bitcoin and Coinbase is part of the reason he still is bullish on these types of cryptocurrencies. He predicts,

“As a store of value, there is some real traction [with bitcoin], and actually as we’re seeing in countries like Turkey that are having significant economic crisis — where people are losing faith in the Turkish lira — we’re going to see money move over to bitcoin because as unstable as it is, it is actually a lot more stable for a lot of people than their own nations’ fiat currency. But right now, we’re still in the earliest, earliest stages.”

Ohanian and Tan are in good company as supporters of cryptocurrency. Venture capitalist Tim Draper, CEO Barry Silbert of Digital Currency Group, and Gemini creators Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. There are plenty of ways that Bitcoin is making its way into mainstream use, as coin holders are able to purchase jewelry, order items on Overstock.com, and make hotel accommodations. Even with the volatility, there are still some signs that the industry is alive and kicking in various use cases and other beneficial investments. Even this month, Coinbase announced that they modified their technology in a way that opened the door for $150,000 billion in transactions in 2017 alone.

Ohanian expressed his optimism, saying,

“No matter what the currency prices are doing, seeing more and more people creating accounts … shows more and more adoption, and their end game is to be this interface between people, their fiat money and crypto — it would be the most user friendly trusted safe secure way to do it. I just encourage people not to get too, too invested in the speculation around the day-to-day trading of the currencies.”

Along with his beliefs regarding cryptocurrency, Ohanian is also optimistic about the use of artificial intelligence to help with the analyzation of digital images. This technology is already employed by Pinterest, Facebook, and Amazon. Initialized Capital has invested in a project called Standard Cognition, which offers a similar experiment to Amazon Go.

Expanding on AI technology, Ohanian elaborated, saying:

“This is a narrower definition of artificial intelligence. You’re not teaching a robot to have a conversation; you’re not teaching a robot to be a human. You’re teaching a robot just to see a very specific thing, and because of the way processing power has grown and that the cost for it has declined we have companies like Standard Cognition which is doing real-time computer vision to basically reproduce Amazon and go for any other retailer. So now they can set up some basic cameras and in real time know, ‘here is this entity walking in.’ They’ve picked up this jar of peanut butter and this thing of a coffee, and they can walk out and get charged for it without having actually do a manual check-out process.”

There is no certainty in this endeavor at all, which is just like every other investment opportunity and stock option. However, as long as investors like Ohanian are still around, the likelihood of success may easily jump.

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