Christopher Slowe

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Christopher Brian Slowe (born November 8, 1978, Boston, MA) is an American businessman. He gained his PhD in Physics from Harvard, went on to co-found Reddit, with Aaron Swartz, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman. He later departed reddit and began work for Hipmunk, where he has been Chief Scientist since 2010. Since 2017 he has been the CTO at Reddit.[20]


Slowe was awarded his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard for his thesis "Experiments and simulations in cooling and trapping of a high flux rubidium beam". [2] His thesis advisor was Prof. Lene Hau. During his time as a research assistant at Harvard, he also began to devise computer programs. Whilst studying, in the final year of his PhD he and fellow student Zak Stone gained startup monies from Y Combinator for their company Memamps. "I just wanted to design something to make it easier to work on my thesis," Slowe explained. "And I'll still be happy if that's what I end up with." [3] Memamps failed as both Google and Apple introduced software similar to that which Slowe was seeking to develop.


Immediately upon graduating, in what has been considered a startling departure from expectations, Chris left academia to co-found Reddit, [4] a social news website where users can post links to content on the web. Other users may then vote the posted links up or down, causing them to appear more or less prominently on the reddit home page. [5] Of this change in direction, Slowe explained that "(my) career path may have veered away from the original degree, but that's the nice thing about start-ups - they're usually built around an idea that nobody has previously thought of. In these situations, past experience may not help. What is needed most is insane determination to see something through when failure is a more likely result than success.". [6] Of his decision to move away from science and into in an entrepreneurial direction, he notes “I can’t think of another decision that has affected me more". Slowe had realised that academia was not the road for him. “I got into physics because I liked hard problems, and I enjoyed the process of discovery in solving them. Though the types of problems are drastically different, startup life is structured much the same way.” [7]

reddit became a successful enterprise, calling itself “the front page of the Internet”, although it attracted its share of negative news, some of which arose from its "hands off" editorial approach of allowing content voted as worthy of retention to remain on its site. reddit's core values include anonymity and protecting identity, and these values center on the concept of open, free and protected speech on its website. [8] Reddit was acquired by Condé Nast Publications, the owner of technology Magazine WIRED in October 2006. Conde Nast wanted reddit to "just focus on building out, which may involve adding to the current staff of four (all co-founders), who will all move from Boston to San Francisco and work at Wired's office." [9] A long-standing rivalry also developed between reddit and Digg, a competing site, and a hostile feud with Gawker, a separate internet comment site, which remains at the time of writing, but by the time of the Violentacrez incident, Slowe had moved on.

Fellow co-founders at reddit departed after the Conde Nast acquisition, Aaron Swartz resigning, and Huffman and Ohanian seeing out the legal duration of their contracts, before moving immediately to Hipmunk, [10] an online travel startup service founded by Adam Goldstein. Slowe remained reddit's longest standing employee, and CEO, until 2010, when he left to become Chief Scientist at Hipmunk. [2] There was much speculation as to the terms of his departure, but Slowe remained diplomatic, despite rumours of underfunding and understaffing by new owners Conde Nast. In an interview with TechCrunch he stated: "I decided to leave mostly because it was time to do something new. Five years in technology is a long time anywhere, and, without suggesting that reddit is a completed project or anything but a continuously moving and evolving target, it was time to move onto something that is less fully formed with room to explore." [2] Returning again to the theme of solving hard problems, Slowe took on the job of troubleshooting most of the Hipmunk travel software. His rise as an internet personality, entrepreneur, social networking site founder, and member of the so-called "technorati" has been a very different path than the one initially travelled.

Personal life

Chris currently lives in San Francisco, is married to Apple's Monogram [2] co-founder Kristen Slowe, and they have one child.

Academic publications

A High Flux Source of Cold Rubidium [2]

and Lene Vestergaard Hau: Ultraslow Light & Bose-Einstein Condensates:Two-way Control with Coherent Light & Atom Fields [2]

The Art of Taming Light: Ultra-slow and Stopped Light [2]

Observation of quantum shock waves created with ultra-compressed slow light pulses in a Bose-Einstein Condensate [2] (doi:10.1126/science.1062527)

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