Alexis Ohanian, who co-founded the social media aggregator site Reddit in 2005, announced today that he has resigned from the company’s board of directors and urged the other board members to replace him with a black candidate .
Ohanian also said he would reinvest the profits from his Reddit stock “to serve the black community, primarily to curb racial hatred.” His first donation was a promise to Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Know your rights camp.
Ohanian, who is married to tennis star Serena Williams, said he felt compelled to take the step so that he could answer his black daughter when she asked, “What have you done?”
The move comes as the nation begins to struggle with systemic racism after several high-profile deaths of black civilians by the police.
Ohanian believed he could help in a way by stepping aside in an arena lacking black representation. Black Enterprise2019 Power in the Boardroom report discovered that 37% of the S&P 500 companies had no black board members. That included large technology companies such as Cisco, Oracle and Intuit.
The small board on Reddit, which is outside the S&P 500, currently has no black members either. It consists of Ohanian, Condé Nast Director Robert Sauerberg, OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Porter Gale of Personal Capital Corporation.
While his board position for one of the most visited websites in the country might give Ohanian a large platform, his full-time move from Reddit may allow him to focus more on depositing money into projects with diverse leadership teams.
Initialized capital, a co-founder of venture capital firm Ohanian, has already invested in crypto startups like Coinbase, and it led an investment round in Horizon Blockchain Games in March. Combining his activism with his wallet, Ohanian was able to help change the playing field for crypto projects, which often focus on remedying systemic injustices.
Coinbase for example reported in February Which black Americans were twice as likely to be “negatively affected by the current financial system as white Americans”.
You may wonder how the system could be different if the representation were more fairly distributed.