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Wikileaks reveals Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian emailed with Stratfor (wikileaks.org)
76 points by ockla 1310 days ago | hide | past | web | 33 comments | favorite

I used to be a subscriber to Stratfor, and have enjoyed George Friedman's books. He presents a very interesting, Geopolitical perspective.

A bit of Friedman's personal political leanings "leaked" into his books/essays, but they are interesting enough that I was able to ignore it.

I don't see anything in the info on Wikileaks that makes me consider Ohanian's conduct remotely inappropriate.

FWIW the Geopolitical perspective Friedman advocates in his books is perfectly useful as a tool for analysis and does not dictate any particular approach to governance or diplomacy.


No business is intimated by the mail chain. Is there a problem with simple networking? Because as far as has been revealed, that's all this was. Ohanian and Stratfor briefly met one another, exchanged pleasantries, and went on their separate ways.

Unless you read Friedman's emails where he elaborates on his personal approach of bypassing multiple nation's laws via paid inside informants.

Undermining governance, diplomacy, while promoting corruption.

But by all means take the public facing statements as they are crafted.

My comments are as a reader of Friedman's writing (his books and via his subscription-only website).

I really don't see the big deal. Alexis is just sending a nice follow-up email to someone who wanted to chat with him. This is grasping for straws.

EDIT: My comment was previously under the assumption that Wikileaks was posting linkbait, but that role falls to the OP of this submission, not Wikileaks. Sorry!

In the spirit of total transparency, I have published all of my own emails for the meeting with Stratfor and all subsequent emails: http://imgur.com/a/oZHt1

What you'll find will bore you:

RECAP: I have never worked for Stratfor, I've tweeted screenshots from my inbox with every exchange -- they invited me to their office during SXSW, I got a tour and they asked me for a quote to consult, so I gave it to them, but it went nowhere. We hadn't talked since. https://twitter.com/alexisohanian/status/372033348052340736 https://twitter.com/alexisohanian/status/372028024532643841 https://twitter.com/alexisohanian/status/372008427528396801

I'd been a big fan because no one else reported on Caucasus as well and I was living in Armenia at the time. When the Wikileaks revelation happened years later, I did not renew my subscription.

Here's a bonus upload of a program from a panel at Booz Allen I was on (that was a paid gig) in 2007. http://imgur.com/MXtxvEZ

Nonetheless, Adrian Chen wanted an interview, so here it is: http://imgur.com/MVZR0ay

Love your Small Empires show. Most people when interviewing entrepreneurs don't go into how their product/service looked like at the very beginning. It gives great insight. Keep it going!


Thank you very much, MysticFear! It's been loads of fun to do and the Verge production team is top shelf. I'll keep focusing on those early days, been hearing that a lot -- there's a lot more additional footage I hope makes it into a VHX bundle when the season is done.

Could this be an elaborate conspiracy? I doubt it. Wouldn't it be nice to see WikiLeaks say something just isn't that big of a deal for a change?

You are mistaken.

This is the landing page for the leak: http://wikileaks.org/the-gifiles.html

Linkbaiting is on the submitter. Wikileaks has done no disservice here.

Alexis appears to be heavily denying it on his twitter [1] along with releasing subsequent e-mails [2][3]. Looks like this is another Wikileaks publicity stunt.

[1] https://twitter.com/alexisohanian

[2] http://imgur.com/ZPLyoiP,KnwpYHc#0

[3] http://imgur.com/hl8lpMY

Then why would the mods remove it from r/worldnews?


Because it's their subreddit and they can do what they like? Maybe they didn't consider it worthy to be called "world news". Maybe they saw his denials, realised it's a false story and deleted for that reason. Or maybe they did it to protect him, which would be wrong, but doesn't mean he is "guilty" of consulting for them.

A thousand dollars an hour to speak with him on skype ... I wonder if he gets a lot of calls.

Here's the whole collection. http://imgur.com/a/oZHt1

I met George(Stratfor founder) in the greenroom at BloombergTV, I told him how much I enjoyed his reports on Armenia while I was living there for three months and he invited me to their offices in Austin. Keep in mind this was all before the wikileaks revelation -- at the time I was just so thrilled SOMEONE in the world was writing about economic + political news in the Caucasus in a smart timely manner.

As I've said elsewhere throughout the day, I did not do any business with stratfor whatsoever.

If I understand, he's saying that he didn't end up doing consulting for them, not denying that he talked to them.

On the whole, a mildly interesting non-issue.

I'm not OK with stealing state secrets, but I enjoy reading them on Wikileaks, but stealing and leaking private correspondence? That's plain wrong, especially when Stratfor is being presented as a shadowy CIA-like organization.

> bring in the social media dollars

What does this mean in the context of Stratfor? Selling psyops?

Could someone elaborate on the significance of this?

There isn't anything significant about this, except that STRATFOR is disliked by some people in the various technical communities.

But, in fact, STRATFOR wears several hats, some I find good and some I find less than tasteful. This doesn't implicate Alexis in any unethical activities imho.

There is none based on the evidence presented. The implication is that because Ohanian met with Stratfor, reddit may be compromised and feeding back intel to Stratfor and its partners. There is absolutely zero intimation of anything like this in the mail chain posted except the fact that Ohanian met with someone who works at Stratfor.

This is the type of invalid extrapolation everyone is worried the NSA will make since they have access to our mail. Let's try to remain calm here.

So the question that immediately rises from this mess is that didn't WL have the rest of the mails (which were pasted upthread), or did they intentionally release these without context?

Though surprised by the proof, I'm not surprised by the gist.

Apart from Ohanian whoring himself out as a "something with social media" consultant, there seems to be nothing here.

Personally, I regurarly read the free releases from Stratfor and they are usually well written and insightful, in a very factual stlye, a far cry from the hyper-partisan incomplete information presented by NYT and others. Wikileaks beef with them just seems completely misplaced; a desperate attempt to hype the material that has been given to them.

Haha. Thanks. Yeah I really enjoyed those Stratfor reports while I was in Armenia. I published everything in my own inbox on twitter, shared to reddit/fb/evenG+ and now here... https://www.facebook.com/alexis.ohanian/posts/10101092121771...

I noticed on his signature that he writes: Hipmunk: principal, marketing

What does principal mean in this context?


Does this mean Reddit is tampered?


Remember "Stratcap" folks. The organization made to funnel insider info into other nations where it would be profited off of, I believe JP Morgan or some other shady company was to be the financial backer.

Then the "terrorists" wikileaks helped expose it all.

Bonus snippet from the leak:

On Jul 23, 2011, at 11:41 PM, Don Kuykendall <kuykendall@stratfor.com> wrote:

"We blamed everything on the lawyers. The result will be a frustrating StratCap and Service agreement that you and Bruce will vomit over. So be it. George, Shea and I are on the same wave length and are willing to have loose ends in the contract to get the business deal done. The three of us have an understanding that goes beyond whatnots in the future that might happen. If we can't trust each other, then things are going to fail regardless what the contract reads. StratCap and STRATFOR are the same investment to Shea, George and me."

[1] http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/releasedate/2012-02-27-00-strat...

edit: I cannot for the life of me figure out why this would be down-voted. Was it the syntax, grammar? Was it highlighting one of Stratfor's own emails about StratCap and Stratfor being considered one and the same? The cultivation of insider info paid for, then 'laundered' offshore for for-profit use while those involved also get a cut of the profits?


edit edit: I would honestly appreciate input to whoever does the negative votes, sometimes sprees. In some instances in which I vote down myself I cannot fathom down-voting without adequately explaining why the to user.

This post was certainly not worth a downvote, but the details are a little fuzzy. Perhaps it was the because your second sentence seems to assume nefarious intention on Stratfor's part. I'm upvoting, for the sake of discussion.

StratCap was an attempt by Stratfor to start their own hedge fund of sorts, funded by Shea Morenz, previously a regional director for Goldman Sachs.

Morenz, "proposed a new venture, StratCap, which would allow us to utilize the intelligence we were gathering about the world in a new but related venue-an investment fund. Where we had previously advised other hedge funds. We would now have our own, itself fully funded by Shea. Shea invested over $2 million in Stratfor and more in StratCap. In return he took a seat on Stratfor's board and a minority position in Stratfor, whose control remains in Don's and my hands. It was a good deal for Stratfor, a good deal for StratCap, and since the deal closed officially on August 1, we now have the task of doing what we all want-building Stratfor and StratCap." [1] email from Friedman to Stratfor employees

As I understand it, the deal never took flight, and caught a lot of clouded press after the leak.

I'm not sure what you mean by: >organization made to funnel insider info into other nations where it would be profited off of

Statfor deals with off-the-shelf OSINT available to you and me. StratCap was Stratfor's attempt to profit FROM a hedge fund "Where [they] had previously advised other hedge funds." [1]

If you have any info on StratCap having 'insider trading' intentions, I'd love to hear about it.

[1] - http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/2312421_re-fwd-labor-day-r...

This is easily the most insightful post in this thread, it is unfortunate that anyone downvoted you.


Sorry for not fully elaborating on the subject as it is convoluted and mostly easily searchable with the keywords I've already listed.

To further discussion, what did you find insightful in context to this parent thread's topic? I can only begin to imagine the possibilities to access what is moderated and what is not. What is your opinions?

edit: How is consonants doing? I am a bit down at seeing the same actors in the news again doing their same shifty acts. I have always assumed headlines like NSA/Snowden would have a damper on the will to start-up business or innovate a new industry but never considered the change in tone it would have on HN users in general.

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