Reid Hoffman

Reid Garrett Hoffman CBE[3] (born August 5, 1967) is an American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist 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. On the Forbes 2019 list of the world's billionaires, Hoffman was ranked #1349[4] with a net worth of US$1.8 billion.[4]

Reid Hoffman
Reid Hoffman in SF 2011
Hoffman in 2011
Reid Garrett Hoffman

August 5, 1967 (age 51)
ResidencePalo Alto, California, U.S.[1][2]
Alma materStanford University (B.S.)
Oxford University (M.St.)
OccupationExecutive Chairman, LinkedIn
VC Partner at Greylock
Board member at Microsoft
Net worthIncrease $1.9 billion USD (Forbes 2019)
Michelle Yee (m. 2004)

Early life and education

Hoffman was born in Palo Alto, California, to Deanna Ruth (Rutter) and William Parker Hoffman, Jr., and grew up in Berkeley, California. His paternal great-great-great-grandfather was Theophilus Adam Wylie, a Christian Presbyterian minister and Indiana University president pro tempore.[5][6][7] Reid's uncle Eric Hoffman is a writer.[8][9]

Hoffman described himself an avid tabletop roleplaying gamer as a child.[10] His first paid job (at age 12) was as an editor at the game company Chaosium, then based in Oakland near his home.[11] 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.[12]

Hoffman attended high school at The Putney School,[13] where he farmed maple syrup, drove oxen and studied epistemology.[14] 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.[15] He went on to earn an M.St. in Philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford University in 1993 as a Marshall Scholar.


Early years

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.[14] He saw academia as an opportunity to make an "impact," but later realized that an entrepreneurial career 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 realised academics write books that 50 or 60 people read and I wanted more impact."[16]

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.[17] He later joined Apple Computer in 1994, where he worked on eWorld, an early attempt at creating a social network. eWorld was acquired by AOL in 1996.[18] He later worked at Fujitsu before co-founding his first company – in 1997. It focused "on online dating and matching up people with similar interests, like golfers who were looking for partners in their neighborhood."[19] Peter Thiel has said was "literally an idea before its time. It was a social network 7 or 8 years before that became a trend."[18]


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.[19] 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."[18] Hoffman was responsible for all external relationships for PayPal, including payments infrastructure (VISA, MasterCard, ACH, WellsFargo), 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."[19][20] At the time of PayPal's acquisition by eBay for $1.5B in 2002, he was executive vice president of PayPal.


Reid Hoffman speaking
Hoffman speaks at an event.

Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn in December 2002 with two former colleagues from SocialNet (including Allen Blue), a former college classmate and a former colleague from his time at Fujitsu.[14] It launched on May 5, 2003, as one of the first business-oriented online social networks.[21] Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois, colleagues of Hoffman's at PayPal, invested in LinkedIn.[14] By November 2014, LinkedIn had over 332 million members in more than 200 countries and territories.[21] 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."[22]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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".[25]

Microsoft proposed to acquire LinkedIn on June 13, 2016 for $26.2 billion in cash.[26] Hoffman became a Microsoft board member on March 14, 2017.[27]


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."[28] Dave Goldberg, former CEO of SurveyMonkey, said that Hoffman "is the person you want to talk to when you are starting a company."[18] In 2010 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners and runs their $20 million Discovery Fund.[29] 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.[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]

Hoffman's current venture capital investments include Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Blockstream, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Gixo, Nauto, Xapo.[33]

Past investments include 3DSolve,, Digg, Edmodo, Flickr, IronPort, Knewton, Kongregate,, Nanosolar, One Kings Lane, Permuto,, Shopkick, SixApart, thesixtyone, Swipely, Tagged, Technetto, TrialPay, Vendio, VigLink, Viki, Wikia, and Wrapp.[34] He served on Zynga's board of directors from March 2008 to June 2014, and on shopkick's board of directors from its foundation in July 2009 until its acquisition by SK Telecom in October 2014.

Public intellectual work


Hoffman has spoken at the XPrize Foundation's conference and the TED conference in Long Beach in 2012. He is a frequent lecturer at Stanford University, Oxford University, Harvard University, MIT's 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.


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."[35] 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.[36]

Hoffman has also written op-eds in the Washington Post, including one published in 2009 entitled "Let Startups Bail Us Out"[37] 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.[38] He has written for Strategy+Business on professional networking and is an "Influencer" on LinkedIn where he posts original written content.[39][40]

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.[14]

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.[41]

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."[42] The Economist said that "Hoffman and Casnocha make a number of astute observations about shifts in the world of work."[43]

As of September 2012 it had sold more than 100,000 copies.[44] It became both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.[45][46] Business Insider republished visual summaries of The Start-Up of You, which have received over 13 million views.[47]

The Alliance

Hoffman is co-author, with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, of the management book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.[48]

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.[49]

The book became a New York Times bestseller.[50] Arianna Huffington named The Alliance "the must-read book of the summer" in 2014.[51]

Masters of Scale

On 25 April 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.[52] The official podcast launched on 5 May 2017 on the Entrepreneur Magazine website but is now hosted at Episodes so far feature guests such as Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Chesky, John Elkann, Sheryl Sandberg, Stewart Butterfield, Diane Greene, and Nancy Lublin.


Hoffman is co-author, with Chris Yeh, of the book Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies.[53] 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.”[54]

Honors and awards

  • In 2017 he was appointed an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), "For services to promoting UK business and social networking and the Marshall Scholarship scheme".[55]
  • In September 2014, the American Academy of Achievement awarded Hoffman with the annual Golden Plate award, which honors accomplished individuals "for significant achievement in their fields."[56]
  • In April 2014, President Barack Obama named Hoffman as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship "to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs."[57]
  • In April 2014, Hoffman received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club.[58]
  • In May 2012, Hoffman was ranked third on the Forbes Midas List of the top tech investors.[59] Forbes described Hoffman as "Silicon Valley's uber-investor" and said Hoffman "has had a hand in creating nearly every lucrative social media startup."[59]
  • In 2012, The Martin Luther King Jr. Center honored Hoffman with their "Salute to Greatness" award which "recognizes individuals and corporations or organizations that exemplify excellence in leadership and a commitment to social responsibility in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr."[60]
  • In 2012, Newsweek and The Daily Beast released their first "Digital Power Index," a list of the 100 most significant people in the digital world that year (plus 10 additional "Lifetime Achievement" winners), and Hoffman was ranked No. 3 in the "Angels" category.[61]
  • In 2012, Hoffman, along with Salman Khan of Khan Academy, was honored by the World Affairs Council and Global Philanthropy Forum in 2012. The council recognizes and honors remarkable leaders who have effected and will continue to effect social change through their private enterprise and social action. The awards in 2012 were dedicated to celebrating Technology for Social Impact.[62]
  • Hoffman was awarded the 2012 David Packard Medal of Achievement Award by TechAmerica for his contributions and advances within the high-tech industry, his community, and humankind.[63]
  • Hoffman received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson in 2012.[64]
  • In 2011, Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn shared the EY U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Award.[65]
  • In 2010, Hoffman was named No. 17 on Fast Company 's list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.[66]

Personal life

In 2004, Hoffman married Michelle Yee.[67] The couple has resided in Palo Alto, CA for 10 years.


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."[18] Hoffman currently serves on the boards of (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), Opportunity@Work (a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to re-wiring the U.S. labor market through innovative technology and education financing),[68] and Do Something (an organization motivating young people to take action around social changes). Hoffman also serves on the advisory council of the MIT Media Lab (an interdisciplinary research laboratory), and is a supporter and chair of the advisory board for QuestBridge (a provider of talented low-income students to top colleges/universities).[69] Hoffman is one of the financial backers of OpenAI, a non-profit company aimed at the safe development of artificial general intelligence.[70] Hoffman is also a primary funder of Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 crisis service via SMS in the US.[71] 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.[72] 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."[73]


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"[74] for an annual invitation-only closed-door conference. Since then he has attended every year with the exception of 2013.[75][76] Hoffman is also listed as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which he was elected in 2015.[77][78]

In April 2013, a pro-immigration lobbying group called was launched, with Reid Hoffman listed as one of the founders.[79] In 2014, Hoffman donated $150,000 to the Mayday PAC.[80] 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.[81]

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.[82]

In 2016, Hoffman created Trumped Up Cards, a card game modeled after Cards Against Humanity intended to poke fun at US presidential candidate Donald Trump.[83] 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.[84] 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.[85]


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External links

Alice Bentinck

Alice Yvonne Bentinck (born 23 July 1986) is a British entrepreneur. Along with Matthew Clifford, she is the co-founder of Entrepreneur First, a London-based company builder and startup accelerator. Based in London and Singapore, EF funds ambitious individuals based across Europe and Asia to create startups. In 2017, it was announced that Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and Partner at Greylock, was leading a $12.4million investment into Entrepreneur First.Bentinck and Clifford are also the founders of Code First: Girls, an organisation offering free web programming courses for women in university. An advocate for the entry of more women to the tech field, Bentinck was named one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech by the Inspiring Fifty organisation in 2015.

Convoy (company)

Convoy is a Seattle based trucking startup co-founded by CEO Dan Lewis and CTO Grant Goodale.

On 25 July 2017, the company raised $62 million in Series B funding led by Y Combinator's Continuity Fund. Other new investors included Cascade Investment CEO Bill Gates, Mosaic Ventures, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, and Barry Diller. This round of funding brought Convoy's total amount raised to $80 million.They joined existing Convoy investors Greylock Partners (the VC fund of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman), CEO Marc Benioff, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos via Bezos Expeditions, former Starbucks President Howard Behar, founders Hadi and Ali Partovi, and the founders & CEOs of eBay, Instagram, KKR, and DropBox, among others. Convoy was awarded GeekWire's 2017 Startup of the Year.In 2018, Convoy raised $185 million led by CapitalG at a $1 billion valuation.

John D'Agostino (financial services)

John Joseph D'Agostino is an American business executive and entrepreneur. Currently, D'Agostino is a Managing Director at the world's largest fund governance firm DMS Offshore, where he also serves on the board of hedge funds providing independent oversight. He was previously a managing director at Alkeon Capital Management, a multibillion-dollar registered investment adviser. Prior to this, D'Agostino was known primarily for his involvement in the early development of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange.His story was the focus of the book Rigged, the True Story of an Ivy League Kid who Changed the World of Oil by New York Times best-selling author Ben Mezrich. Summit Entertainment acquired the screen rights to Rigged and the book has been optioned for film adaptation.D'Agostino was featured in "The Startup of You" by Reid Hoffman in 2012. He is the founder of Dagger LLC, a strategic consulting and advisory services. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences and meetings on business topics such as negotiation, markets, and hedge funds.

June Cohen

June Cohen is an American producer and entrepreneur. She is currently the CEO of WaitWhat, a media company she co-founded with Deron Triff. WaitWhat creates the podcast Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman. Cohen is also host of the podcast Sincerely X. Until December 2015, she was the Executive Producer of TED Media for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). She led the effort to bring the conference online, launching the podcast series TEDTalks in 2006, the redesigned in 2007, the TED Open Translation Project in 2009, the TED Open TV Project in 2010 and TED Conversations in 2011. Cohen joined the TED staff in 2005. She also produced TED's year-round salons, edited the TED Blog, and co-curated and co-hosted the annual conference in Long Beach, with TED curator Chris Anderson. She lives in New York City.

Masters of Scale

Masters of Scale is a business and finance podcast hosted by Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn. The show is created and owned by WaitWhat. In each episode, Hoffman introduces a theory on how successful businesses scale, and tests its validity by interviewing founders about their path to scale. Guests have included Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Starbucks founder and former CEO Howard Schultz, Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings, FCA and Exor Chairman John Elkann and others. Episodes also feature brief "cameo" appearances from other founders and experts in different industries who build on Hoffman's theories.Masters of Scale was the first American media program to commit to a 50/50 gender balance for guests. Hoffman told Quartz: "Silicon Valley prides itself on being a meritocracy, but the data shows it's not. [Masters of Scale] launched with and maintained our commitment to a 50/50 gender balance of guests on each season. It's important to not just talk about this topic, but to take action ... set an example."

PayPal Mafia

"PayPal Mafia" is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies such as Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer. Most of the members attended Stanford University or University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign at some point in their studies. Six members; Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, and Keith Rabois; have become billionaires.

Scott Samuel

Scott Samuel is an American entrepreneur, early internet adopter and investor. He was the founder of Speakeasy chat system in the 1980’s. He founded, served as CEO of Ethical Technologies, LLC, as Chief Community Officer of Andale Inc. and created the popular auction listing tool for eBay. LinkedIn's founder Reid Hoffman credits Samuel's early internet pioneering work in his book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.

Win the Future (group)

Win the Future (WTF) is an American political organization. It was co-founded in 2017 by Reid Hoffman, Mark Pincus, and Adam Werbach following Donald Trump's election to the U.S. Presidency.

Companies founded
or co-founded

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