Reid Garrett Hoffman
August 5, 1967
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
|Education||Stanford University (BS)|
Wolfson College, Oxford (MSt)
|Occupation||Executive Chairman, LinkedIn|
VC Partner at Greylock
Board member at Microsoft
Reid Garrett Hoffman (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. On the Forbes 2021 list of the world's billionaires, Hoffman was ranked #1580 with a net worth of US$2.4 billion.
His paternal great-great-great-grandfather was Theophilus Adam Wylie, a Christian Presbyterian minister and Indiana University president pro tempore. Hoffman's uncle Eric Hoffman is a writer.
Hoffman described himself an avid tabletop roleplaying gamer as a child. His first paid job (at age 12) was as an editor at the game company Chaosium, then based in Oakland near his home. Although he was only 14 years old at the time, Hoffman's name was featured on the box of Chaosium's RuneQuest role-playing game release Borderlands (1982), receiving equal billing with game designers Steve Perrin, Sandy Petersen and Greg Stafford.
Hoffman attended high school at The Putney School, where he farmed maple syrup, drove oxen and studied epistemology. He graduated from Stanford University in 1990, where he won both a Marshall Scholarship and a Dinkelspiel Award, with a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and Cognitive Science. He went on to earn an M.St. in Philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford in 1993 as a Marshall Scholar.
While in college, according to Hoffman, he formed a conviction that he wanted to try to influence the state of the world on a large scale. He saw academia as an opportunity to make an "impact," but later realized that the business world would provide him with a larger platform. "When I graduated from Stanford my plan was to become a professor and public intellectual. That is not about quoting Kant. It's about holding up a lens to society and asking 'who are we?' and 'who should we be, as individuals and a society?' But I realized academics write books that 50 or 60 people read and I wanted more impact."
With that in mind, Hoffman pursued a career in business and entrepreneurship. His first job was an internship at Inglenook, a winery in Napa Valley. He later joined Apple Computer in 1994, where he worked on eWorld, an early attempt at building an online service. AOL acquired eWorld in 1996. 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." Peter Thiel has said SocialNet.com was "literally an idea before its time. It was a social network 7 or 8 years before that became a trend.". Philosophy still greatly influences Hoffman's worldview as he wrote the foreword to the book, The Entrepreneurs Weekly Nietzsche which came out in May 2021 and laid out why he believes that a fundamental understanding of philosophy can be a powerful tool for entrepreneurship in an episode of the Greymatter podcast called "The Philosopher Entrepreneur".
While at SocialNet, Hoffman was a member of the board of directors during the founding of PayPal, an electronic money transmission service. In January 2000, he left SocialNet and joined PayPal full-time as the company's COO. Allen Blue, whom Hoffman hired at PayPal, said that "PayPal had to scratch and claw for every advantage it had, and Reid became an expert at competing effectively in an extremely competitive environment." Hoffman was responsible for all external relationships for PayPal, including payments infrastructure (Visa, Mastercard, ACH, Wells Fargo), business development (eBay, Intuit, and others), government (regulatory, judicial), and legal. Peter Thiel, Hoffman's boss at PayPal, has said that Hoffman "was the firefighter-in-chief at PayPal. Though that diminishes his role because there were many, many fires." At the time of PayPal's acquisition by eBay for $1.5B in 2002, he was executive vice president of PayPal.
Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn in December 2002 with two former colleagues from SocialNet (including Allen Blue), from his time at Fujitsu. It launched on May 5, 2003, as one of the first business-oriented online social networks. Peter Thiel, a colleague of Hoffman's at PayPal, invested in LinkedIn. By November 2014, LinkedIn had over 332 million members in more than 200 countries and territories and now has nearly 800 million members. The site allows registered users to create professional profiles and connect with each other. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. According to Forbes, "LinkedIn is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today."
Hoffman was LinkedIn's founding CEO for the first four years before becoming chairman and president of products in February 2007. He became executive chairman in June 2009. With the IPO of LinkedIn on May 19, 2011, Hoffman owns a stake worth an estimated $2.34 billion, not including any potential benefits from Greylock Partners, where he was named a partner in 2009. Hoffman believes that many people still do not know how to use its service and it is LinkedIn's job to help them out. In an interview, Hoffman said that "you have to think proactively about how to use a tool that enables your ability to move in ways that you weren't able to move before, and most of people are not very good at that".
Microsoft proposed to acquire LinkedIn on June 13, 2016 for $26.2 billion in cash. Hoffman became a Microsoft board member on March 14, 2017.
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."
After the PayPal sale to eBay, Hoffman became one of Silicon Valley's most prolific and successful angel investors. According to venture capitalist David Sze, Hoffman "is arguably the most successful angel investor in the past decade." Dave Goldberg, former CEO of SurveyMonkey, said that Hoffman "is the person you want to talk to when you are starting a company." In 2010 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners and made his first, early investment in AirBNB. His areas of focus at Greylock include consumer and services, enterprise software, consumer Internet, enterprise 2.0, mobile, social gaming, online marketplaces, payments, and social networks.
In 2020, Greylock, the venture capital firm where Hoffman is a partner, created an ongoing partnership with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) to get more Black, Latino and Indigenous people into tech startups. As part of this partnership. Greylock’s partners also donated $5 million to anchor MLT’s first-ever impact fund, which allows MLT to participate as a limited partner in Greylock’s latest $1 billion fund.
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.
Hoffman's current venture capital investments include Aurora, Blockstream, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Joby Aviation, Nauto, Neeva, Nuro, Taptap Send and Helion Energy.
Past investments include 3DSolve, Airbnb, Coupons.com, Digg, Edmodo, Flickr, Gixo, IronPort, Knewton, Kongregate, Last.fm, Nanosolar, One Kings Lane, Permuto, Ping.fm, Shopkick, SixApart, thesixtyone, Swipely, Tagged, Technetto, TrialPay, Vendio, VigLink, Viki, Wikia, Wrapp, and Xapo. He served on Zynga's board of directors from March 2008 to June 2014 and currently serves on several public boards including Aurora, Joby Aviation and Microsoft.
Hoffman is arguably one of the most important investors for the future of transportation, making investments in Aurora (autonomous trucking), Convoy (trucking logistics marketplace), Nauto (AI software for driver safety), Nuro (autonomous, zero-occupant delivery vehicles for goods) and Joby Aviation (electric, aerial ride-sharing) among others.
An early advocate for cryptocurrency, Hoffman led the 2014 Series A financing round in Xapo, a company that created a combination between a bitcoin vault and a bitcoin wallet and was an early supporter of Celo, an open platform that makes financial tools accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. In 2015, he was interviewed at Davos and said crypto “could open up the advantages of banking to regions of the world that do not yet benefit from the banking system” and then wrote an article in WiredUK evangelizing for why the blockchain matters. In 2019, Hoffman created a "Bitcoin Rap Battle Debate: Hamilton vs. Satoshi" and posted it on YouTube, racking up over 2 million views.
Hoffman teaches the free Stanford University class, "Blitzscaling".
Hoffman has spoken at the XPrize Foundation's conference, the TED conference in Long Beach in 2012, and Fast Forward's Accelerate Good Global in 2020. He is a frequent lecturer at Stanford University, Oxford University, Harvard University, the MIT Media Lab, and others. He has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, Fareed Zakaria's Global Public Square on CNN and other current affairs television programs.
In 2021, he appeared at TechCrunch Disrupt in September to talk about blitzscaling and Greylock's new $500 million seed fund among other things, at the Bloomberg Equality Summit in October to talk about the important of diversity in tech and at the Knight Foundation Symposium Lessons from the First Internet Ages in November to discuss what we've learned from web 1.0 and 2.0.
Hoffman has published a variety of posts as a "LinkedIn Influencer" on LinkedIn. He published an essay proposing a new form of credentialing for university students and professionals entitled "Disrupting the Diploma." On his personal website, he published "LinkedIn's Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs," in which he analyzed LinkedIn's 2004 Series B venture funding pitch deck and offered advice to prospective entrepreneurs on how to formulate a pitch deck.
Hoffman has also written op-eds in the Washington Post, including one published in 2009 entitled "Let Startups Bail Us Out" encouraging funding for grassroots innovation in the wake of the financial crisis and another in June 2013 entitled "Immigration promotes entrepreneurship and prosperity" advocating for immigration reform. He has written for Strategy+Business on professional networking and is an "Influencer" on LinkedIn where he posts original written content.
Hoffman has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans.
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.
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.
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." The Economist said that "Hoffman and Casnocha make a number of astute observations about shifts in the world of work."
As of September 2012 it had sold more than 100,000 copies. It became both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Business Insider republished visual summaries of The Start-Up of You, which have received over 13 million views.
Hoffman is co-author, with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, of the management book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.
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. It proposes a new framework for managers and employers to organize their work, described as "tours of duty." Further, it argues why managers should encourage their employees to gather "network intelligence" and why companies and managers should maintain a lifelong relationship with former employees via a corporate alumni network.
The book became a New York Times bestseller. Arianna Huffington named The Alliance "the must-read book of the summer" in 2014.
On April 25, 2017, Reid Hoffman announced the launch of a new podcast called "Masters of Scale." In each episode, Reid acts as the host, introducing a counterintuitive business theory and proving it out through the episode through a series of conversations with successful entrepreneurs. Masters of Scale is committed to a 50-50 gender balance. The official podcast launched on May 5, 2017, on the Entrepreneur Magazine website but is now hosted at mastersofscale.com. Masters of Scale Episodes so far feature guests such as Mark Cuban, Sir Richard Branson, Beth Ford (CEO of Land O'Lakes), Jessica Alba, Sheila Lirio Marcelo (Care.com), Ray Dalio, Brian Chesky (AirBNB), Tory Burch, John Elkann, Tyra Banks, Daymond John (FUBU, Shark Tank), Stacy Brown-Philpot, Sheryl Sandberg, Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Mark Zuckerberg, Shellye Archambeau, Diane Greene, Indra Nooyi (former CEO Pepsi), Sara Blakely (Spanx), Robert Reffkin (Compass), Robert F. Smith (investor) and Barack Obama.
Hoffman is co-author, with Chris Yeh, of the book Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies. 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.”
Blitzscaling isn't simply a matter of rapid growth. Every company is obsessed with growth. In any industry, you live and die by the numbers—user acquisition, margins, growth rate, and so on. Yet growth alone is not blitzscaling. Rather, blitzscaling is prioritizing speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty.
In 2004, Hoffman married Michelle Yee. The couple resides in Seattle, Washington.
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's CEO, has said that "Reid's true north is making a positive and lasting impact on the world, in a very profound way." Hoffman currently serves on the boards of Kiva.org (peer-peer microlending pioneer that allows people to lend money via the internet to low-income/underserved entrepreneurs and students), Endeavor Global (an organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets), 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). 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). 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 to Code for America. In July 2016, Hoffman funded the $250,000 cash-prize MIT Media Lab MIT Disobedience Award, an award created by Hoffman and Joi Ito to honor and recognize acts of disobedience resulting in positive social impact. In November 2016, Hoffman and his wife, Michelle Yee, donated $20 million to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charity dedicated to eradicating disease by 2100. Hoffman and Yee's donation was for the Biohub, the Initiative's San Francisco laboratory. Hoffman also joined the board of the Biohub project. 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."
Hoffman is also a long-time supporter of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and in 2021, in response to the massive increased need due to the pandemic, offered to match any donations to the food bank, up to $2million
Hoffman is included in many efforts around the future AI and is one of the financial backers of OpenAI, a non-profit company aimed at the safe development of artificial general intelligence as well as the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, a joint venture between the MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University . He is also on the Board of HAI (Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence) at Stanford University whose mission is to "advance AI research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition" and launched the 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". In 2018 made a gift of to the University of Toronto's iSchool to endow a chair "to study how the new era of artificial intelligence (AI) will affect our lives.". Hoffman has also mentioned many times that when one must have Spiderman ethics as a tech leader - "With great power, comes great responsibility."
To increase diversity and inclusion in the start-up ecosystem Hoffman is a donor and advocate for HimforHer, which aims to accelerate diversity on corporate boards and All Raise, whose goal is to create a tech culture where women are leading, shaping, and funding the future. He’s also the founding donor and long-time 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. On the hot button issue of the death penalty, Hoffman has also argued for its abolishment on moral grounds and because of racial biases and other instances of unequally applied justice. Hoffman is also a strong supporter of Shaka Senghor, the writer, mentor, and motivational speaker whose story of redemption after he was sent to jail for murder has inspired many to become more involved with criminal justice reform.
Since 2011 Hoffman is a member of the Bilderberg Group, which gathers 120-150 North American and European "political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media" for an annual invitation-only closed-door conference. Since then he has attended every year with the exception of 2013. Hoffman is also listed as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which he was elected in 2015.
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 to the Mayday PAC. Also in 2014, Hoffman contributed $500,000 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 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.
In 2016, Hoffman created a card game modeled after Cards Against Humanity intended to poke fun at US presidential candidate Donald Trump. 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. 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.
In 2018, Hoffman helped fund Alloy, a company founded to legally exchange data with affiliated Democrat groups like super PACs. Hoffman supplied half of the 35 million dollars to start it. The company shut down in 2021 after failing to live up to its promise.
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.". In 2020, Hoffman also penned a piece that argued for making Voting Day a holiday.
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.
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