Entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian has his own platform to push before the election. And it involves a crowdfunded bus.
While President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney hit the road to campaign for their respective platforms, Reddit founder and angel investor Alexis Ohanian has planned an election road show of his own. His key issue: Save the Internet.
On Thursday Ohanian launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise $40,000 for what he has dubbed The Internet 2012 Bus Tour, Forbesreports. The plan is to drive the bus from the first debate between the candidates in Denver, Colorado, to the first debate between the vice presidential candidates in Danville, Kentucky, in September.
“We want to embark on an ‘Internet 2012’ campaign-style bus tour where we’ll talk to local start-ups, college students, media, politicians, and grassroots organizations about the power and promise of the Open Internet,” Ohanian wrote on the Indiegogo site.
Ohanian has been an outspoken figure for Internet freedom since January--prompting Forbes to dub him "The Mayor of the Internet." The 29 year-old first spoke out against government Internet regulation when he went to Congress in January. Since then, he has gained a following of people who support his mission against the Stop Online Piracy Act, the Protect IP Act, and the Cyber Intellgence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
In the last six months, Ohanian has staged a number of boycotts against the proposed legislation. He has organized a Reddit blackout on January 18, signed petitions, vowed in a CNN interview that he would not invest in Facebook due to its support of CISPA, and in May teamed with the nonprofit Fight For The Future to form The Internet Defense League.
“Now,” Ohanian writes, “we want to meet you--the awesome Americans using the Internet to start businesses, sell your crafts on Etsy, build manufacturing studios in your garage, launch political campaigns, raise money for teachers. We want to tell your stories and find out what you think.”
Reddit plans to provide the bus, gas, and driver for the trip, raising money on Indiegogo in order to host events on the trip, decorate the bus, and document the multi-state campaign.
“From taxes, to health care, to immigration--Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on anything,” he said. “But there’s one thing no one’s really talking about that both sides should be championing: The Open Internet.”
MAEGHAN OUIMET is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in Boston Magazine and Rolling Stone. She covers technology start-ups and innovations from the San Francisco bureau for Inc.com. @MaeghanO