Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s ancestors perished during the Armenian genocide and had their assets seized. That generational trauma is a big reason why he’s betting heavily on NFTs and future social networks, despite crypto’s chilly winter storm.
In an interview with Forbes, Ohanian speaks about how he is trying to restore his connections to his roots, acquiring the carpets and putting them on display in his farmhouse in Jupiter, Florida.
Among Alexis Ohanian’s earliest memories is his great aunt Vera, sitting him down on his sixth birthday to tell him in graphic detail about how his great-great-aunt and uncle were killed while being marched through the Syrian desert during the Armenian genocide more than a century ago; how as a child his great-grandfather, Avedis, saw his parents decapitated by Turkish soldiers, who upon turning their attention to the youngster were barely stopped by another soldier on horseback; how that little boy was then shipped off to an orphanage in Istanbul before making his way to Ellis Island.
“A lot of people sacrificed for that opportunity,” she told him. “You have to make the most of it.”
Reflecting on the genocide of 1915, when an estimated 1.5 million people were killed, Ohanian gestures to the three newly acquired Armenian rugs on floor around him, explaining how his family’s inheritance of heirloom rugs was seized by Turkish soldiers, Forbes writes.
“Any group of people who have in their consciousness, or in their collective history, some 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,” says Ohanian. “And so, in some ways it was hardwired in me then, and made me in a way receptive to the idea of a decentralized currency.”
During Ohanian’s most recent trip to Armenia he engaged in what he calls “family mode.” In addition to preparing an inheritance of NFTs for his daughter, Olympia, he bought the three Armenian rugs that are now on display at his farm in Florida, hoping to rebuild the legacy that was seized more than a century ago. “I was thinking, Okay, how do I help restore some of these physical connections that were broken?” Once again gesturing to the floor around him he adds: “And so these carpets are all for Olympia. And who knows any other kids we might have. Knock on wood, this is not a country I’m planning on fleeing. But I know not everyone has that opportunity.”