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Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed
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Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,853 ratings  ·  146 reviews
As Alexis Ohanian learned when he helped to co-found the immensely popular, the internet is the most powerful and democratic tool for disseminating information in human history. And when that power is harnessed to create new communities, technologies, businesses or charities, the results can be absolutely stunning.

In this book, Alexis will share his ideas, tip
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Business Plus (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Alexis Ohanian
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I enjoyed reading this book. I also enjoyed writing this book. I probably shouldn't be allowed to review this book.

But seriously, if you have read this book, please let me know what you think! (Here, on Amazon, or via twitter @alexisohanian)

And if you bought it, please fwd me the receipt so I can thank you personally! Email: ThankYou AT
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
I would have given Without Their Permission 5 stars if I had not read the last two and a half chapters. These chapters are a diatribe against the SOPA and PIPA laws that were in front of congress in 2012. Don't assume I believe that these laws should have passed congress, because I don't know enough about them. But Ohanian spent page after page describing how the internet world was able to stop these laws without fully explaining the issues involved. His point of view seemed so prejudiced that I ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Just okay. I actually just skimmed the last half of the book. His youthful cockiness is a bit off-putting. Parts were interesting, but the whole tech startup Silicon Valley world sometimes just makes me tired. Am I old?
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Fun book that encourages folks to start an online business. And includes instructions on how to do it!

First part of the book describes Ohanian's experience as a startup founder. Second part breaks it down so you can do it too -- from taking your idea to closing the first round of funding and starting a real business. For fun, profit or the good of humankind.

The Internet helps people help themselves.
"I’m writing this book to inspire as much as to inform."

Not having a boss gave me the freedom to
Chris Chester
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I received this book after seeing Alexis speak at a meeting for entrepreneurs in D.C. What's immediately obvious if you've both seen him speak and read the book is that much of the material, down to the jokes and memes that he cites, are exactly the same.

Which is fine. This is a semi-autobiographical take on his life, the rise of Reddit, his own entrepreneurial efforts, and his political awakening during the SOPA/PIPA fights in 2012.

But it underscores something I noticed right away when diving i
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This was an entertaining and quick read. I'm a big fan of and it was cool to see how it came to fruition. That was probably the most entertaining part of the book. In the middle section of the book is closest it gets to being a "guide" for young entrepreneurs. The book claims it "is his personal guidebook as to how other aspiring entrepreneurs can follow in his footsteps." I wouldn't agree with this, if you're looking for help, this isn't the book. It pretty much tells Alexis' sto ...more
Aaron Wolfson
Alexis Ohanion is a great example to follow, overcoming some tough personal circumstances to become a true leader and a real genuine guy. His writing is down-to-earth, positive, and readable. The book is done in three parts: Ohanion tells the story of how he co-founded reddit, gives his game plan for starting a venture on the Internet, and discusses the fight for an open web.

I was mainly interested in the advice portion. A lot of the material I had read elsewhere, which makes sense, as Ohanion
Shikhar Nigam
The book is a semi-autobiographical tale of Alexis' start-up experiences coupled with advice for other budding entrepreneurs and an ardent message to his readers about the need to keep the Internet open.

I like the book's continuous insistence on goading a person to get out there and put ideas into practice. "What are you waiting for?" Alexis asks. "Permission?" And that's what the book is about. How the Internet does not require permission.

I also especially liked the phrase that he uses repeated
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think the only strong point of this book was the interesting story of how reddit was founded through the first chapter. After that point, Ohanian's childish and meme-infused writing becomes a task to read. The book is literally written like a reddit comment thread with bad puns, overly-casual grammar and poor overall structure and flow. I know this isn't intended to be an epic novel, but Ohanian fails to deliver even a single chapter without re-iterating the same point many times over in as ma ...more
Stephen- Craig
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book...It was inspirational and never talked down to you ...all the time cheering you (the reader) on to strive to create new products and greater heights......I found it very interesting that Alexis never had the please of being "screwed over" by anyone, especially his colleagues...As unfortunately the part of this equation that let me down was how easily and often people behaved in an honorable manor....Which, after 50 years in the entertainment industry the only thing that amazes ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
One and a half to two stars if you are reading this as a two-person proto startup today in 2015; three to four stars if you are reading this as a social scientist studying American Internet startup culture, especially if you are interested in the culture of Y Combinator startups created by millennials.

Not much in this book for a team of devs in an early phase Internet startup -- everything said here is already well known by techies and much better info can be found elsewhere. OTOH, this book is
Oct 20, 2013 added it
Without Their Permission is an autobiographical view of tech, the internet, and intellectual property in the USA.

I was a fan of the humor, occasional profanity, and the message.

The parts I found a bit more difficult to get through were the Music section and Graduation speech and occasionally the stream-of-consciousness format.

The most rewarding parts of this book were the personal insights Alexis shares about his experiences. The politics I believe are what motivated the writing, but as someo
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you never knew what goes into a startup, or want a quick survey of how the Internet has democratized business, politics, and society - this is a great place to start. Alexis demystifies much of what makes a startup succeed, acknowledges the importance of luck, and writes with an urgency that makes you want to act.

Even if you know much of the source material, you'll learn new things - about reddit's early days, about the beginning of Y Combinator, about Congress's attempts to fast - track SOPA
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fun. Informative. Easy to read. Very inspiring.
First part tells story of Alixis like birth of Reddit and early ventures. It shows few techniques on how to build a start-up, like "treat your first customers like gold". Liked this part a lot.
Second part, which is luckily way shorter, tells how Alexis saved Internet from SOPA, PIPA etc. While important I didn't found it very engaging. It seems like this part was added forcefully. Thus 4/5.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book without any predetermined expectations...and finished with a vigor & enthusiasm for the endless possibilities that lie ahead for us, on the open internet. I think that the attitude of expecting a specific formula for a specific end goal- the startup success Ohanian obtained, is a lot like the mindset "If after ___ number of dates, then this happens". Of course, I only perceive this book through my own unique lens when I say that I understand Ohanian to share, rather t ...more
Aaron Maurer
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is a light read. It is not intense. It comes across like a conversation with Alexis. I think many people were hoping for a clear cut path of lists and bullet points to plot out how to do "X".

Instead this is far from this. What I took away from this book is more of the style and personality of Alexis that has allowed him to be successful.

As always I took down notes into Evernote that I found interesting and tried to convert the ideas to the platform of education.

Reading many reviews online I
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I really like and respect the author, as his voice sounds so much like my father's as I grew up, particularly in figuring out the newness of the computer (the dot com thing? I don't know for sure).
I particularly got this impression from the very beginning: "Above all, I hope you'll carry this blueprint, and the optimism inherent in it, with you long after you put this book down." (page 5 of this Hachette Book Group edition)
After all, my father is an elementary music teacher, so of course he sa
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-read-2019
2.5 stars.

Ohanian split the book into thirds, the first being about his history as an entrepreneur (mostly Reddit, a bit of Hipmunk too), the second third a series of high level takeaways on starting and growing a company (plus some bits on fundraising) and the third, a smattering of what makes the internet great interesting to say the least with a kind of haphazard "letter from the future" piece as a doorstop. I bought a physical copy, hoping there'd be enough meat to come back to. I do have do
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Alexis Ohanian
Without their permission

one third auto biography, one third startup investment advice, and one third diatribe about internet freedom.

Every website has a story, and every story has characters that define it. Alexis is a co-founder of reddit, an unlikely winner in the user-generated news and content hub in the interweb space.

Alexis covers who he is, how he grew up, and other auto-biographical insights leading up to the acquisition of his website: Reddit.

He continues to educate us on
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexis Ohanian is the most relatable entrepreneur in the whole internet business. His background is the most down to earth that us normal people can connect to him. His father worked in a ticket agency, his mother was an illegal immigrant. He was a geek boy, loved playing video games and went to the commerce school in UVA. He wasn't a genius coder, he even drew the first Reddit mascot on Paint. He is one human being who deals with grief, loss of his mother, his entire life. The biggest quality o ...more
Danielle T
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Bought this after his campus talk because hey, why not get something signed by the co-founder of reddit? The back of the cover notes that it should be about a 5 hour read (or about the length of a flight from New York to San Francisco, assuming it's direct and without weird layovers). Many parts of it were similar to the tour, so if you go to the free talk, you get the gist. The first third is the founding of reddit (rising from the failure of MMM! as an idea), the middle a quickie "Start-up MBA ...more
Michael Huang
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
His experiences starting up companies, crowd-sourcing funds, etc. are all good materials to read and understand. What especially stands out is the section on startup growth period tips. The book writing skills, unfortunately are decidedly second rate. There is a lack of coherence. Some stories are told for no apparent purpose to support a bigger narrative. If you as a reader want to learn insight from reading (at least that's why I picked this book), then you felt that at least half of the mater ...more
Pete Den Uyl
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
While this was an entertaining and informative read, I felt that certain concepts and ideas were missing or underdeveloped.

I was surprised that there was no mention of Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, the book that Alexis claimed in a blog-post "inspired the birth of Reddit". It would've been interesting to learn how a book about Doom and Quake creators John Carmack and John Romero motivated Alexis to create a web community like Reddit.

Alexis offers s
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I have a tendency to quickly forget what I read so I'm glad other reviewers refreshed my memory, but I enjoyed Mr. Ohanian's book even though I don't really have much interest in Internet startups. I like the idea of having direct relationships with consumers/audience whilst bypassing gatekeepers. I had to slog through the back stories on reddit and hipmunk. I just don't care about this stuff and I felt that Mr. Ohanian tooted his own horn just a bit too loudly for my taste. I mean, the guy's no ...more
Manuel Sanchez
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, business
The author, the co-founder of "Reddit", speaks eloquently about the "democratization" of entrepreneurialism, along with freedom of expression, via the internet. The absence of "gate-keeper" obstacles, so prevalent in normal attempts at new business start-ups, is absent on the internet, where the ability to code and become present and visible to millions of potential clients "without anyone's permission" has proven a boon to business start-up's globally. The book provides an engaging narrative of ...more
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A look from the co-founder of about how business will be created in the future using the Internet. Key take-aways: 1) You don't need permission to create a business on the Internet. All links are equal and it doesn't matter who you are or what your credentials are if you have a solution/product that people need or want. 2) Ohanian posted on his bedroom wall, "Lives Remaining: 0" to remind himself that this is the only chance you get. 3) His overriding goal (and message to others) is t ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Decent read; interesting from the standpoint of what all he had to go through to start and maintain his company. He has an easy to follow writing style. If you're into reading about business, especially tech related, you will enjoy.

"Here’s the thing about ideas: ideas are worthless. That might sound harsh, but my experience has been that execution is everything.

You might be thinking, “But what if someone steals my idea?” Trust me: most of us don’t have the spare time to start a company with you
Neil Sharma
Jan 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
I read this hoping to learn something applicable in my life. Given that objective, this book failed to deliver.

Ohanian spoke mostly of the early days at YC, Reddit, and several of his other post-acquisition activities. Very little of it lived up to the title of doing things you're not supposed to.

It's been about a year since I've read it, and normally I can retain the useful portions. This book had very few nuggets of information worth retaining, except for anecdotal evidence about giving your
Oct 25, 2013 rated it liked it
While I agree with the book's message (the internet is an equalizer when it comes to implementing ideas) 100%, I have to wonder if it will reach anyone who isn't already onboard with that idea. It's interesting to hear how Reddit was founded, and Alexis has done some amazing stuff, but I think even he is confused by who his book audience is. For example he makes sure to explain a number of internet in-jokes to the reader, but I have a feeling the vast majority of his readers will already be flue ...more
Avtar Ram Singh
I'm a huge fan of Reddit which is why I picked this one up. It was a zippy read, and I fairly enjoyed the first 80% of it. The last 20% is important, but it doesn't directly impact me (as yet). It's a very frank and honest view of what it takes to succeed if you're thinking about launching a business today, the hurdles you'll probably need to overcome, and the mental strength you'll need to get past it.

Make no mistake, this isn't an academic and in-depth look with pointers for founders, it's mor
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