Reid Hoffman

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Reid Hoffman
Reid Hoffman in SF 2011.jpg
Hoffman in 2011
BornReid Garrett Hoffman
August 5, 1967 (1967-08-05) (age 47)
Stanford, California
Alma materStanford University
Oxford University
OccupationExecutive VP of PayPal
Founder of LinkedIn
VC Partner at Greylock
Net worthIncrease$4.4 billion USD (September 2013)[1]
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Reid Hoffman
Reid Hoffman in SF 2011.jpg
Hoffman in 2011
BornReid Garrett Hoffman
August 5, 1967 (1967-08-05) (age 47)
Stanford, California
Alma materStanford University
Oxford University
OccupationExecutive VP of PayPal
Founder of LinkedIn
VC Partner at Greylock
Net worthIncrease$4.4 billion USD (September 2013)[1]

Reid Garrett Hoffman[2] (born August 5, 1967) is an American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author. Hoffman is best known as the co-founder of LinkedIn, a social network used primarily for business connections and job searching.

Early life and career[edit]

Hoffman was born in Stanford, California to Deanna Ruth Rutter and William Parker Hoffman, Jr. and grew up in Berkeley, California. His paternal great-great-great-grandfather was Christian Presbyterian minister and Indiana University president pro tempore Theophilus Adam Wylie.[3][4] Reid's uncle Eric Hoffman is a writer.[5][6] He attended high school at The Putney School,[7] where he farmed maple syrup, drove oxen and studied epistemology.[8] He graduated from Stanford University in 1990 (where he won both a Marshall Scholarship and a Dinkelspiel Award) with a BS in Symbolic Systems and Cognitive Science.[9] He went on to earn an M.A. in philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford University in 1993.

Hoffman says that in college he formed a conviction that he wanted to try to influence the state of the world on a large scale.[8] 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."[10]

With that in mind, Hoffman pursued a career in business and entrepreneurship. Hoffman 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.[11] Hoffman 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.”[12] 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.”[11]


While at SocialNet, Hoffman was a member of the board of directors at 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.[12] 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."[11] He 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, “he was the firefighter-in-chief at PayPal. Though that diminishes his role because there were many, many fires.”[12] At the time of PayPal's acquisition by eBay for $1.5B in 2002, he was executive vice president of PayPal.


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.[8] It launched on May 5, 2003 as one of the first business-oriented online social networks.[13] Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois, colleagues of Hoffman's at PayPal, invested in LinkedIn.[8] As of November 2012, LinkedIn has more than 187 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories.[13] The site allows registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of relationship, called Connections. 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."[14]

He was LinkedIn's founding CEO for the first four years before becoming chairman and President, Products in February 2007. Hoffman became Executive chairman in June 2009.[15] 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.[16] 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”.[17]


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."[18] Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, says that Hoffman “is the person you want to talk to when you are starting a company.”[11] He made 80 angel investments in technology companies. In 2010 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners and runs their $20 million Discovery Fund.[19] His areas of focus at Greylock are consumer and services, enterprise software, consumer Internet, enterprise 2.0, mobile, social gaming, online marketplaces, payments, and social networks.[20]


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 the company. Hoffman invested alongside Thiel in Facebook's very first financing round.[21][22]


Hoffman personally invested and joined the board of directors in Zynga's first round of funding. Hoffman and Zynga CEO Mark Pincus co-own the Six Degrees patent.[23] Zynga is now a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $2.48 billion as of August 2012.[24]

Other investments[edit]

His other investments include Wikia, Permuto, SixApart, thesixtyone, Tagged, IronPort, Flickr, Digg,, Nanosolar,, Knewton, Kongregate,, Technetto, OneKingsLane, Wrapp, Edmodo, Vendio, VigLink and shopkick.[25] In late 2013 Viki, a company Hoffman invested in through Greylock Partners, was acquired by Japanese firm Rakuten.[26]

Hoffman is known in Silicon Valley as a person who has sat at every seat at the table. He has been a junior product manager (Apple and Fujitsu), an executive at a hypergrowth company (PayPal), an angel investor, an institutional investor, founder and CEO of a venture-backed company (LinkedIn), and independent board member of both private and public companies.

Public intellectual work[edit]

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's appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, Fareed Zakaria's Global Public Square on CNN and other current affairs television programs.

Personal life[edit]

In 2001, Hoffman married Michelle Yee, his high school sweetheart of many years. The couple has resided in Palo Alto, CA for 10 years.


Hoffman has written a variety of original written content on his personal website,, including an essay proposing a new form of credentialing for university students and professionals entitled “Disrupting the Diploma”[27] and “LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch To Greylock: Pitch Advice For Entrepreneurs” in which Hoffman analyzed LinkedIn’s 2004 Series B venture funding pitch deck and offered advice to prospective entrepreneurs on how to formulate a pitch deck.[28]

Hoffman has also written op-eds in the Washington Post, including one published in 2009 entitled “Let Startups Bail Us Out”[29] 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.[30] He has written for Strategy+Business on professional networking and is an "Influencer" on LinkedIn where he posts original written content.[31][32]

The Start-Up of You[edit]

Hoffman is co-author, with Ben Casnocha, of the business book The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career.[8]

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.[33] As of September 2012 it had sold more than 100,000 copies.[34] It became both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.[35][36]

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.”[37] The Economist said that “Hoffman and Casnocha make a number of astute observations about shifts in the world of work.”[38]


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.”[11] He serves on the boards of (a micro-finance organization), Mozilla (creator of Firefox),[39] Endeavor Global an international non-profit development organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and Do Something, (an organization for young people taking action). Hoffman is also a supporter and Chair of the Advisory Board for QuestBridge, a provider of talented low-income students to top colleges/universities.


In April 2013, a lobbying group called (aimed at lobbying for immigration reform and improvements to education) was launched, with Reid Hoffman listed as one of the founders.[40]

In 2014 Hoffman donated $150,000 to the May Day PAC[41]

Honors and awards[edit]

In May 2012, Hoffman was ranked third on the Forbes Midas List of the top tech investors.[42] Forbes described Hoffman as “Silicon Valley's uber-investor” and said Hoffman “has had a hand in creating nearly every lucrative social media startup.”[42]

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.[43]

Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn shared the Ernst and Young U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011.[44]

In 2010, Hoffman was named No. 17 on Fast Company 's list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.[45]

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.[46]

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.[47]

Hoffman received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson in 2012.[48]


  1. ^ Forbes The World's billionaires: Reid Hoffman September 2013
  2. ^ Reid Garrett Hoffman. Quora. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  3. ^ Louise Wylie Hoffman. (2013-10-15). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  4. ^ Wylie House Museum. (2010-11-16). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Lacter, Mark (May 2009). "Reid Hoffman LinkedIn". Inc. 31 (4): 83. 
  8. ^ a b c d e The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career. New York: Crown Business. 2012. ISBN 978-0307888907. 
  9. ^ Reid G. Hoffman: Chairman and Co-Founder, LinkedIn Corporation. Bloomsberg Business.
  10. ^ Cree, Richard (July 2009). "Well connected". Director magazine. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Reid Hoffman Revealed: Bloomberg Gamechangers". Bloomberg Television. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Rusli, Evelyn (November 5, 2011). "A King of Connections Is Tech's Go–To Guy". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "LinkedIn: About". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Your LinkedIn Intervention: 5 Changes You Must Make". Forbes. July 6, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ "LinkedIn: Reid Hoffman". Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ Levy, Ari (May 19, 2011). "LinkedIn's Biggest Backers Will Own $2.5 Billion Stake After Initial Sale". Bloomberg. 
  17. ^ "Fireside Chat With Reid Hoffman". August 2012. 
  18. ^ TechCrunch - The latest technology news and information on startups. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  19. ^ Greylock Gives Super Angel-Turned-VC Reid Hoffman A $20 Million Seed Fund. TechCrunch (2010-09-27). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  20. ^ "Endeavor's Board of Directors: Reid Hoffman". Endeavor Global. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  21. ^ The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World: David Kirkpatrick: 9781439102114: Books. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  22. ^ Meet Facebook's (Soon-To-Be) Billionaires. Business Insider (2010-05-13). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  23. ^ The Zynga Influence. AllFacebook (2009-09-25). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  24. ^ Zynga Inc: NASDAQ:ZNGA quotes & news - Google Finance. (2013-07-25). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  25. ^ LinkedIn
  26. ^ The Wall Street Journal |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  27. ^ Hoffman, Reid. Retrieved 4 February 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ Retrieved 4 February 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Hoffman, Reid (March 3, 2009). "Let Start-Ups Bail Us Out". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  30. ^ Hoffman, Reid (June 28, 2013). "Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  31. ^ Hoffman, Reid. "Connections with integrity". Strategy + Business. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  32. ^ Retrieved 4 February 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "LinkedIn co-founder on "The Start-Up of You"". CBS News. 
  34. ^ Takahashi, Dean. "Crunchfund founder quizzes Reid Hoffman about what it's like to be 'ridiculously wealthy'". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  35. ^ Cowles, Gregory. "Best Sellers – The New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Best-Selling Books, Week Ended February 19". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Nonfiction Review: The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Becoming a social worker: What finding jobs and founding businesses have in common". The Economist. April 7, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  39. ^ "About the Mozilla Corporation". Retrieved 204-03-28.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  40. ^ "Our supporters". Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  41. ^ "MAYDAY.US - Our Top Sponsors". Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  42. ^ a b "Reid Hoffman – Forbes". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  43. ^ "The Newsweek Daily Beast Digital Power Index". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 14, 2012. [dead link]
  44. ^ "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year". Ernst & Young. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  45. ^ "The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2010". Fast Company. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  46. ^ "2012 Awards Dinner Technology for Social Impact". World Affairs Council. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  47. ^ Foremski, Tom (October 10, 2012). "LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman Awarded David Packard Lifetime Achievement Medal". Silicon Valley Watcher. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  48. ^ "Honorary Degree Candidates and Speakers". Babson. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 

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