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Reddit was more than just a social news startup to co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Freedom from the 9 to 5, and support from his business partners helped him through some of the darkest days of his life, he wrote in a very personal post on his website.

His girlfriend’s hospitalization after a five-story fall, his mother’s battle with a deadly form of brain cancer, and the death of his dog all took place during the first few months of Reddit’s existence.

Reddit, a Digg-like social news site which lets users submit and vote on links, was started in 2005 by Ohanian and Steve Huffman, and was purchased by publishing giant Condé Nast in 2006.

During his girlfriend’s ordeal, Reddit was going through a program with seed-stage VC firm Y Combinator. And later, Ohanian spent much of his time in Maryland, where he was able to work remotely by his mother’s bedside.

“[Mom] gave me all the inspiration I needed to wake up every morning and kick some a**, because that’s what you have to believe as a startup founder,” he wrote.