Reddit co-founder and investor Alexis Ohanian’s new venture fund, Seven Seven Six, is taking steps to break the mould of how VC firms operate and search for talent. In a Linkedin post earlier today, Ohanian announced that Seven Seven Six is hosting open applications on its careers page for its “Operator in Residence Program,” a full-time, one-year residency at the firm aimed at bringing new voices into venture capital.
“Instead of the VC tradition of sticking with their closed networks, we're doing open applications,” Ohanian wrote on LinkedIn. “When Katelin Holloway & I discussed how we should re-think Operating Partners from first principles, we found a pretty unique way that gets us the best possible talent for supporting our founders AND shifting the traditional investor persona.”
The venture capital industry is known for its insularity, and the Operator in Residence Program, which comes with an annual salary of $140,000 and several other benefits, makes an effort to distinguish itself from the typical VC hiring circles.
The announcement of open job listings at Seven Seven Six is the latest in a streak of announcements which highlight the new firm’s humanistic approach. Last week, Ohanian announced a 2% pledge to all its investments, promising that an additional 2% of the firm’s investment would go directly to the company’s founders to be used for “health, wellbeing, development and caretaking.”
“Founders: YOU are the investment,” Ohanian wrote.
Like Ohanian’s previous firm Initialized Capital, which he co-founded with Garry Tan and left earlier this year, Seven Seven Six appears to be focused on investing in early-stage startups such as photo app Dispo, which the firm invested $4 million in a seed round in October. Founded by David Dobrik, a Slovakian Youtube personality, Dispo is an app that mimics disposable cameras by “developing” photos and giving access to them the following morning. Ohanian characterized Dobrik and Dispo as “[reinstalling] authenticity into social media and [creating] a safe and fun internet for all” in a press release, saying “we couldn't have invented a better first investment for Seven Seven Six.”
Ohanian’s emphasis on treatment of founders and employees comes a month after a public falling out with fintech startup Coinbase, which Ohanian’s former firm Initialized invested in and which his wife, Serena Williams, has a stake in through another fund. Coinbase drew negative attention last month when CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong penned an internal memo characterizing the company as “an intense [and] apolitical culture,” which caused the departure of 60 employees. The memo appeared to stand at odds with Williams’ and Ohanian’s public activism and Ohanian’s stated mission to “create healthier, more equitable systems with the rest of my career.”