Reid Hoffman
Hoffman in 2011
Born
Reid Garrett Hoffman

(1967-08-05) August 5, 1967 (age 56)
EducationStanford University (BS)
Wolfson College, Oxford (MSt)
Occupation(s)Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
VC Partner at Greylock
Board member at Microsoft
Spouse
Michelle Yee
(m. 2004)
Websitereidhoffman.org

Reid Garrett Hoffman[1] (born August 5, 1967) is an American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist, podcaster, and author. Hoffman was the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, a business-oriented social network used primarily for professional networking. He is currently a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners and a co-founder of Inflection AI.[2]

Early life and education

Hoffman was an avid tabletop roleplaying gamer as a child[3] and worked as an editor at the game company Chaosium, then based in Oakland, California near his home.[4]

Hoffman attended high school at the progressive The Putney School in Vermont,[5] where he engaged in farming activities.[6] He graduated from Stanford University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Symbolic Systems and Cognitive Science.[7] He was awarded a Marshall Scholarship for graduate study abroad,[8] on which he earned a Master of Studies in Philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford, in 1993.[9]

His paternal great-great-great-grandfather was Theophilus Adam Wylie, a Christian Presbyterian minister and Indiana University president pro tempore.[10][11][12] Hoffman's uncle Eric Hoffman is a writer.[13][14]

Career

Early years

Hoffman joined Apple Computer in 1994, where he worked on eWorld, an early attempt at building an online service. AOL acquired eWorld in 1996.[15] He later worked at Fujitsu before co-founding his first company, SocialNet.com, in 1997. It focused "on online dating and matching up people with similar interests, like golfers who were looking for partners in their neighborhood."[16]

PayPal

While at SocialNet, Hoffman was a member of the board of directors during the founding of PayPal.[17] In January 2000, he left SocialNet and joined PayPal full-time as the company's COO.[16][18]

LinkedIn

Hoffman speaks at an event.

Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn in December 2002 with two former colleagues from SocialNet (including Allen Blue) from his time at Fujitsu.[6][19] LinkedIn launched on May 5, 2003 as one of the first business-oriented online social networks.[20] Peter Thiel, a colleague of Hoffman's at PayPal, invested in LinkedIn. At the time of LinkedIn's IPO on May 19, 2011, Hoffman owned a stake worth an estimated $2.34 billion, not including any potential benefits from Greylock Partners, where he was named a partner in 2009.[21]

Microsoft proposed to acquire LinkedIn on June 13, 2016 for $26.2 billion in cash.[22] Hoffman became a Microsoft board member on March 14, 2017.[23]

Artificial Intelligence ventures

Hoffman was a founding investor in the artificial intelligence research company OpenAI.[24]

In March 2022, it was announced that Hoffman was co-founding a new startup, Inflection AI, with his long-time friend and Greylock colleague Mustafa Suleyman, the co-founder of DeepMind. CNBC reported that "Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Inflection will aim to develop AI software products that make it easier for humans to communicate with computers."[2]

On March 3, 2023, Hoffman resigned from his board seat at OpenAI, citing a desire to avoid conflicts of interest between his board seat at OpenAI, investments in AI technology companies via Greylock Partners, and role as founder of Inflection AI.[25]

As of May 2023, Hoffman and Greylock Partners have invested in at least 37 AI companies.[26] For example, they were an early investor in Tome, makers of productivity software driven by AI. The company claims it is the fastest productivity software maker to reach 1 million users.[27]

Hoffman has dismissed calls to “pause” the development of advanced AI systems, calling such ideas “foolish” and “anti-humanist.” Instead, he has called for the pace of development to be accelerated to help humans solve societal problems.[28]

Investing

After the PayPal sale to eBay, Hoffman became one of Silicon Valley's most prolific angel investors.[29] Dave Goldberg, former CEO of SurveyMonkey, said that Hoffman "is the person you want to talk to when you are starting a company."[15] In 2009, Hoffman joined Greylock Partners.[30]

According to David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect, Hoffman arranged the first meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel, which led to Thiel's initial $500,000 angel investment in Facebook. Hoffman invested alongside Thiel in Facebook's first financing round.[31][32]

Since 2009, Hoffman has provided venture capital to dozens of businesses across industries, including consumer and transportation technology, finance, and artificial intelligence. Examples include Airbnb, Aurora Innovation, Taptap Send, and Helion Energy.[33][34][35]

He served on Zynga's board of directors from March 2008 to June 2014[36] and currently serves on several public boards, including Aurora, Joby Aviation, and Microsoft.[37][38][39]

Hoffman has made multiple investments in transportation technology companies, including Aurora, Convoy, Nauto, Nuro, and Joby Aviation, among others.[40][41]

An early advocate for cryptocurrency,[42] Hoffman led Greylock's 2014 Series A financing round in Xapo, a company that developed a bitcoin wallet product.[43]

In August 2023, Hoffman said he will not serve as a general partner for Greylock's upcoming funds.[44] He invested in California Forever, a company developing a planned city in Solano County, California.[45]

Teaching

Hoffman teaches the free Stanford University class, "Blitzscaling".[46][47]

Publications

The Start-Up of You

Hoffman is co-author, with Ben Casnocha, of the career book The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career.[6]

The book was released in the United States on February 14, 2012. It argues that individuals should think of themselves as businesses-of-one – the "CEO of their own career" – and draws many parallels between lessons learned from the stories of successful Silicon Valley technology companies and an individual's career.[48]

Publishers Weekly reviewed the book positively, saying, "with plenty of valuable guidance relevant to any career stage, this book will help readers not only survive professionally in times of uncertainty but stand out from the pack and flourish."[49] The Economist said that "Hoffman and Casnocha make a number of astute observations about shifts in the world of work."[50]

It became both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.[51][52]

The Alliance

Hoffman is co-author, with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, of the management book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.[53]

The book was released in the United States on July 8, 2014. It argues that previous career models of lifetime employment and free agency no longer work in a business world defined by continuous change. Instead, it proposes that employers and employees should think of each other as "allies" and move from a transactional approach to employment to a "relational" one.[54]

The book became a New York Times bestseller.[55] Arianna Huffington named The Alliance "the must-read book of the summer" in 2014.[56] A Financial Times review was mixed, noting that those who aren't well-versed on the changing nature of the workplace may find the book useful, but readers looking for more surprising or in-depth insights will be disappointed.[57]

Blitzscaling

Hoffman is co-author, with Chris Yeh, of the book Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies.[58] The book was released in the United States on October 9, 2018. It argues that the secret to starting and scaling massively valuable companies is "blitzscaling", a set of techniques for "scaling up at a dizzying pace that blows competitors out of the water."[59]

Impromptu: Amplifying Our Humanity Through AI

On March 13, 2023, Hoffman released the book "Impromptu: Amplifying Our Humanity Through AI." Hoffman claims to have written the book using the large language model GPT-4.[60]

Podcasts

On April 25, 2017, Reid Hoffman announced the launch of a business and finance podcast called Masters of Scale, with the first episode of the podcast launching on May 3, 2017. The podcast is produced by WaitWhat, a media company led by former TED executives June Cohen and Deron Triff and hosted by Hoffman who interviews notable entrepreneurs and business and political leaders.[61] The Masters of Scale podcast has featured interviews with well-known founders and leaders including Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Huffington Post & Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington, Imagine Entertainment founders, Brian Grazer & Ron Howard, Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson, and President Barack Obama. Since its launch, Masters of Scale has won several Webby and Signal awards.[62][63][64]

In March 2023, Hoffman and his Chief of Staff Aria Finger began hosting a podcast called "Possible". According to its creators, the podcast "sketches out the brightest version of the future—and what it will take to get there". The first episode featured an interview with Trevor Noah.[65]

Honors and awards

Personal life

In 2004, Hoffman married Michelle Yee.[80] The couple resides in Seattle, Washington. Hoffman is an avid player of board games, including Settlers of Catan, and has said that such games are good training for business.[81]

Hoffman helped fund E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit for defamation and battery against Donald Trump.[82] On May 9, 2023 a jury found Trump liable and awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.[83]

In September 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hoffman visited Jeffrey Epstein's private island for a weekend in 2014. Hoffman claimed that the purpose of the meeting was to raise funds for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and that he regretted interacting with Epstein.[84]

Philanthropy

Hoffman currently serves on the boards of Kiva.org (peer-to-peer microlending pioneer that allows people to lend money via the internet to low-income/underserved entrepreneurs and students),[85] Endeavor Global (an organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets),[86] and New America (a think tank that focuses on a range of public policy issues, including national security, technology, health, gender, education, and the economy).[87] He's also the founding donor and board member at Opportunity@Work, an organization that seeks to eliminate the opportunity gap and provide millions of highly skilled but under-credentialed Americans (often from marginalized, rural and racially diverse backgrounds) better pathways to higher-paying jobs and careers.[88]

Hoffman also serves on the advisory council of the MIT Media Lab and is a supporter and chair of the advisory board for QuestBridge (a provider of talented low-income students to top colleges/universities).[89] Hoffman was also the first major funder of Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 crisis service via SMS in the US.In 2013, Hoffman provided a $250,000 matching grant (equivalent to $311,200 in 2022) to Code for America.In July 2016, Hoffman funded the $250,000 cash-prize (equivalent to $300,400 in 2022) MIT Media Lab MIT Disobedience Award,[90] an award created by Hoffman and Joi Ito to honor and recognize acts of disobedience resulting in positive social impact.[91] In November 2016, Hoffman and his wife, Michelle Yee, donated $20 million (equivalent to $24,030,000 in 2022) to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charity dedicated to eradicating disease by 2100.[92] Hoffman and Yee's donation was for the Biohub, the Initiative's San Francisco laboratory. Hoffman also joined the board of the Biohub project.[93] In May 2018, Hoffman and Yee joined the Giving Pledge, "a global effort to help address society's most pressing problems by encouraging the wealthiest individuals and families to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes."[94]

Hoffman is also a long-time supporter of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. In 2021, in response to the massive increased need due to the pandemic, he offered to match any donations to the food bank, up to $2 million (equivalent to $2,141,000 in 2022).[95]

Artificial Intelligence

Hoffman is one of the backers of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, a joint venture between the MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.[96] He is on the board of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), whose mission is to "advance AI research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition",[97][98] and launched the institute's Hoffman-Yee Research Grants to "fund interdisciplinary teams with research spanning HAI's key areas of focus: understanding the human and societal impact of AI, augmenting human capabilities, and developing AI technologies inspired by human intelligence".[99] In 2018, Hoffman made a gift to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information, to endow a chair "to study how the new era of artificial intelligence (AI) will affect our lives."[100]

Politics

Hoffman (back left) serves as a member of the US Defense Innovation Board.

Since at least 2011, Hoffman has been a member and regular attendee of the Bilderberg Group, which gathers 120–150 North American and European "political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media"[101] for an annual invitation-only closed-door conference.[102][103][104] Hoffman is also listed as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which he was elected in 2015.[105]

In April 2013, a pro-immigration lobbying group called FWD.us was launched, with Reid Hoffman listed as one of the founders. In 2014, Hoffman donated $150,000 (equivalent to $183,500 in 2022) to the Mayday PAC.[106] Also in 2014, Hoffman contributed $500,000 (equivalent to $611,800 in 2022) toward David Chiu's State Assembly campaign by funding an independent expenditure committee devoted to negative campaigning against his opponent: San Franciscans to Hold Campos Accountable—Vote No for Campos for State Assembly 2014.In 2016, Hoffman contributed $220,000 (equivalent to $264,300 in 2022) in support of Democratic candidate for Vermont governor Matt Dunne, according to a mass-media disclosure filed at the Vermont Secretary of State's Office.[107]

In 2016, Hoffman created a card game modeled after Cards Against Humanity intended to poke fun at US presidential candidate Donald Trump.[108] In December 2018, the New York Times broke a story alleging that Hoffman had "put $100,000 into an experiment that adopted Russia-inspired political disinformation tactics on Facebook" during the 2017 special Senate race in Alabama, which allegedly targeted Roy Moore voters. Hoffman did not immediately respond.[109] He apologized later that month, also stating he was unaware what the non-profit—Washington, D.C., based American Engagement Technologies, or AET—had been doing.[110]

In 2018, Hoffman helped fund Alloy, a company founded to legally exchange data with affiliated Democratic groups like super PACs. Hoffman supplied half of the 35 million dollars to start it.[111] The company shut down in 2021.[112]

Hoffman has been an outspoken proponent of democratic institutions and voting rights and in 2021 published a piece on LinkedIn entitled Protecting Voting Rights: Good for America, Good for American Business. In this piece he discusses how "former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier led corporate America to take an active role in this situation, by explicitly advocating for the rights of all American citizens to make their voices heard through the core democratic act of voting".[113] In 2020, Hoffman also penned a piece that argued for making Voting Day a holiday.[114]

Hoffman gave at least $500,000 to the Mainstream Democrats super PAC, which was founded in February 2022 and has since spent more than $1 million supporting the campaigns of moderate Democrats Henry Cuellar and Kurt Schrader.[115][116][117][118][119]

In October 2022, Hoffman joined the Defense Innovation Board, an independent advisory board for the United States Department of Defense.[120]

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