Reddit's cofounder took out ads in a nearly empty Times Square urging people to stay home

AdQuickOhanian sign Times Square.
  • The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has killed 6,500 people worldwide and infected more than 169,000, according to recent totals.
  • The US has reported more than 3,800 cases and 69 deaths.
  • Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian bought billboards in Times Square over the weekend urging people to stay home and not spread the virus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Reddit cofounder and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian bought a billboard in Times Square, the heart of New York City tourism, on Saturday, urging people to stay home, Forbes reported. The worldwide death toll of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, that originated in Wuhan, China, is now more than 6,500, and the virus has infected more than 169,000 people.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic. The virus has disrupted travel worldwide, leading to flight cancellations, quarantines, and other breakdowns in movement. New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington state, among other US locations, have closed bars and restaurants except for takeout as experts warn about the importance of social distancing in slowing the spread of the virus.

Ohanian told Forbes that the idea of advertising on a billboard like this “just kind of popped in my head.” Here’s what it looked like.

Times Square sees nearly 380,000 tourists on a typical day, with as many as 450,000 on a busy day.

REUTERS / Stephanie KeithTimes Square.

Source: Times Square

On March 14, as COVID-19 spreads in New York, Times Square was much less crowded than usual.

REUTERS/Eduardo MunozTimes Square.

Some people were still out to see Ohanian’s billboard, though, which he bought through startup AdQuick.

AdQuickOhanian sign Times Square.

His signs urged people to stay home and “flatten the curve” by not spreading the virus and overwhelming the medical system.

AdQuickOhanian sign Times Square.

Source: Business Insider

“It was a deliberate approach to think what is one of the densest populations of people in the U.S. and on a normal day that would be Times Square,” Ohanian told Forbes.

AdQuickOhanian sign Times Square.

Source: Forbes

He also said he considered other phrases, including “Why are you even looking at this?” and “Why are you even in Times Square right now?”.

AdQuickOhanian sign Times Square.

Ohanian’s VC firm, Initialized Capital, closed its office last week and will allow employees to work remotely for at least the next six to eight weeks.

Noam Galai/GettyAlexis Ohanian.

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