Business Models

Alexis Ohanian Lets His Mascots Do the Dirty Work

hipmunk Alexis Ohanian Lets His Mascots Do the Dirty WorkWhen the social news site Digg launched a redesign that took influence away from some of its veteran power users, the revolt was loud and bloody.

A big group of frustrated Diggers defected to Reddit, which has been booming in popularity and is now rumored to be on sale for around $200 million.

Alexis Ohanian, who helped found Reddit, saw the reaction in the numbers. “The Monday before Digg Version 4 came out, Reddit was doing about 600,000 uniques a day in traffic. The Monday after, it bumped up to about 950,000 a day, and that number has only grown,” he told Inc.

Part of the problem, thinks Ohanian, is that founders take too prominent a role in representing their company. Better to stay out of the way, and when things go wrong, let the mascot take the heat.

“Well, we never let ourselves be the focus of the site,” he told Inc. of his new venture, Hipmunk. “We could just parade the mascot around rather than ourselves. And that’s good advice, because you don’t ever have to worry about your mascot going on a coke binge with hookers like¬†Charlie Sheen. Not that Steve and I would do that, but I actually really like the fact that I can go to Reddit meet-ups and most people have no idea what I look like.¬† I want people to associate their experience with this infallible animated creature. This Hipmunk can never do any wrong, ever. And it’s perfectly acceptable to love it.”

 

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