Without Their Permission: A Case for Tech Entrepreneurship

By Masimba Biriwasha | Book Review | January 05 2014

Without Their Permision By Alexis Ohanian, 260 pp. Business Plus. $27

IF you’re in the 21st century and waiting for someone to give you an opportunity to pursue your dream or passion, you need to think again. Today – more than ever in the history of humanity – there’s an abundance of tech tools that can help you to take matters into your own hands and define your own future. Most important, the tools can be used for fun, profit and for the good of humankind.

Redditt co-counder, Alexix Ohanian’s book titled, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed,” is a compelling exhortation on how to use the power of the internet to create opportunity. The book which is based on Ohanian’s experience in co-founding, Reddit, one of the web’s most popular social book marking platforms provides useful tips to would be entrepreneurs of all ages.

In today’s tech powered world, entry barriers into many industries are being removed, that is, if you can create something that solves real world problems. Old world gatekeepers are not as much of a barrier any more as long as you invest time in learning tech skills and building what the world needs.

“The near ubiquity of the Internet (in the developed world, for now) has brought with it the promise of a global stage on which ideas can come to fruition,” says Mr. Ohanian. “For centuries, invention was limited to those who had access to the means of production and access to labor. Today, you can simply create and present your ideas online.”

Given the centrality of the internet to his entrepreneurial career, it is not surprising that Ohanian makes a strong argument for an open internet. He outlines his contributions to the successful fight against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), pieces of legislation in the US that he argues would have stifled innovation on the internet.

“Without Their Permission” is a witty, easy-to-read and funny entreat for individuals to take up tech tools to create a world of their dreams. It’s not just a theoretical treatise: it’s based on Ohanian’s life journey in establishing a start-up, albeit a successful one.

Reading Ohanian as he describes his start-up experience, it’s clear that though the internet age has brought new opportunities, it still requires hard work, perseverance and providing real life solutions in order to make the most of it.

The result is a book that combines personal anecdotes, funny quips and tips that any aspiring tech entrepreneur will find useful. No wonder why Ohanian has been described as “champion of the Internet” by CNN and “the mayor of the Internet” by Forbes.


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