Reddit Co-founder Wishes He Bought More Ether in 2014 Presale

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian first bought ether during its presale nine years ago, making him a tidy profit

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Shutterstock.com/lev radin, modified by Blockworks

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Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian was tipped off to the impending launch of Ethereum’s native token, ether, in a meeting with crypto exchange Coinbase back in 2014.

In a recent interview, Ohanian said he spent $15,000 to buy 50,000 ETH (average price: $3.33) in 2014, which is now worth $82.4 million.

Ether was purchasable for bitcoin in 2014 during the project’s presale, but the Ethereum blockchain only went live on July 30, 2015. This meant the first ether holders had to wait until the blockchain’s launch to move or utilize their tokens. 

“In hindsight, I didn’t invest nearly as much as I should have,” Ohanian told Forbes. Ether was last trading around $1,650, and is up 38% in the year-to-date period, according to Blockworks Research, and 49,500% above Ohanian’s initial purchase price.

Ohanian’s openness to decentralized and uncensorable currency comes from knowledge about his family’s traumatic history, where some of his relatives were killed during the Armenian genocide of 1915. Their inherited heirloom rugs were seized by Turkish soldiers.

The idea of persecution, especially by a state, “makes the idea of a store of value that is not controlled by any single state very attractive,” he said.

That observation makes up one of Ohanian’s core investment strategies. The tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist has made a total of 164 investments, according to Crunchbase data. 

Among those, 29 are blockchain-related. And In February last year, his VC firm Seven Seven Six raised $500 million to focus on more such startups.

Ohanian also made an early investment in Coinbase, from which he reportedly gained $50 million. Part of those proceeds went into buying a 17-carat diamond engagement ring for his tennis superstar wife Serena Williams. 

Bitcoin led Reddit co-founder to ether

Ohanian was already taken by bitcoin’s complexity as a technically unseizable financial instrument. 

So, Ethereum was considered an equally good investment opportunity. He recognized the underlying blockchain’s potential for developing additional unseizable assets, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that now have far-reaching use cases in several different industries.

Ohanian reportedly personally owns about 700 NFTs stored on a marketplace, some of which give him early access to one of his VC investments, Islands

Additionally, he holds NFTs giving him ownership rights to real estate property in Georgia and to the Ethereum Naming Service. 

In August 2021, about a year after stepping down from the Reddit board, Ohanian spent ether which would be worth $550,000 today on seven NFTs that he believed resembled his wife, including CryptoPunks.

Updated Feb. 24, 2022 at 9:53 am ET: Corrected reference to Ohanian’s family history.


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