Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian purchases Times Square signboard about coronavirus


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One of the indications Ohanian set up in Times Square.

Alexis Ohanian

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Once referred to as the “Mayor of the Internet,” Alexis Ohanian has actually apparently purchased a signboard in the real life to motivate individuals to stay at home to prevent spreading out the coronavirus. Ohanian, co-founder of social news website Reddit, informed Forbes he’s set up the signboard Saturday for a one-day run in New York’s Times Square. It includes the line “Staying home means saving lives” and consists of a hashtag at the bottom: #FlattenTheCurve.

The concept “just kind of popped in my head,” Ohanian informed the publication in an interview, stating he hoped the message would press individuals to take the crisis more seriously.

Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian desires individuals to understand that staying at home conserves lives.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

“It was a deliberate approach to think, what is one of the densest populations of people in the U.S.? And on a normal day that would be Times Square,” he stated. “And then you have this cultural prominence. The sort of meme of it is here is a billboard in Times Square about flattening the curve, just preventative measures to defeat COVID-19.”

The concept of flattening the curve originates from a 2017 Centers for Disease Control paper about slowing the spread of a pandemic so health centers aren’t overwhelmed. The concept, basically, is to slow the rate of infections so health centers can deal with more individuals over more time.

On Twitter, Ohanian posted a tweet with the signboard’s hashtag Saturday. He stated feedback up until now has actually been favorable, and he’s thinking about whether to set up more signboards in other cities.

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Ohanian is just the latest big name in tech to take action on the virus. Google parent Alphabet said on Friday it was working with the White House to help create an information and tracking website for the virus. Apple, Facebook and Twitter are tamping down on misinformation about the disease. Amazon and eBay, meanwhile, cracked down on arbitrage sellers they said were price gouging desperate customers looking for hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disinfectant wipes.

Ohanian, who’s also known for his venture capital firm Initialized Capital and for being married to tennis pro Serena Williams, declined to say how much he spent on the billboard. But he did say he hopes the added hashtag will be popular on social media.

Before using, “Staying home means saying lives,” Ohanian considered other, more snarky billboard messages: “Why are you even looking at this?” or “Why are you even in Times Square right now?”

Ohanian said he’s following his own advice. He closed his firm’s offices last week, asking everyone to work from home for as much as eight weeks. Most of his portfolio companies are working remotely as well, Forbes said. 

“I can still do 99% of my job even here from Florida with my fam,” he said.

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