6-Month Paternity Leave Is For 'Losers,' Said Venture Capitalist. Alexis Ohanian's Rejoinder

"Any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser," wrote Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir Technologies

6-Month Paternity Leave Is For 'Losers,' Said Venture Capitalist. Alexis Ohanian's Rejoinder

Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams welcomed their daughter, Olympia, in 2017

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the husband of tennis star Serena Williams, has joined the raging debate around paternity leave by saying that no one should have to choose between keeping their job and taking care of their newborn babies. Mr Ohanian's sharply-worded tweet came in response to a venture capitalist who suggested that any man taking six months of paternity leave is a "loser".

Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir Technologies Inc and a prolific venture capitalist, started a debate on Twitter when he replied to a tweet criticising US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for taking time off after the birth of his twins. Mr Lonsdale was responding to a tweet about podcast personality Joe Rogan slamming Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave. 

"Wow. Great for fathers to spend time with their kids and support moms, but any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser," wrote Mr Lonsdale. "In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future - that's the correct masculine response," he added. 

Alexis Ohanian, who welcomed his first child in 2017, offered a slightly different take on what the "correct masculine response" after having a baby should be. "The correct masculine response is to do whatever it takes for your family + newborn," he wrote. "No one should have to choose between the ICU/NICU and keeping their job."

The Reddit co-founder also explained that parental leave at Reddit and at his venture capital fund, Initialized Capital, is structured in a way that new families can decide what is best for them. "The leave isn't straight, it's flexible," he wrote. "The way we built the plan at Reddit and Katelin Holloway brought it to Initialized was so that it would work for families based on what they needed. Need 4 weeks up front and then take off every Friday until you use it? Great," Mr Ohanian explained. 

He was supported in his argument by Initialized co-founder Garry Tan, who said he took all four months of paternity leave that his company offered because "there is more to life than work and money".

In the ensuing discussion with Mr Tan, Joe Lonsdale admitted he would rethink his use of the word "loser". 

Alexis Ohanian has been an advocate for a national paid family leave law in the US since the birth of his daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. 

"The US is the only industrialized country without guaranteed family leave. The government needs to set the standard, and businesses will follow," he wrote in an Instagram post shared this morning - the latest of many such posts where Mr Ohanian has called for parental leave to be mandated by law. 

In another, shared last week, he had written: "I have been fighting for #PaidFamilyLeave for all Americans since Olympia Ohanian was born. It's been 4 long years and we're SO CLOSE. Do not stop."

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