Reid Hoffman — Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Reid Hoffman speaking

Reid Hoffman — Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

You may not know Reid Hoffman’s name, but it’s highly likely that you use LinkedIn, the business-oriented online social network that he co-founded in 2002. After all, over 137 million U.S. members use the platform every day.

Prior to co-founding LinkedIn, Hoffman had a stellar academic career that included obtaining a master’s degree from Wolfson College in Oxford and receiving a Marshall Scholarship, an honor that’s only bestowed on the country’s best students.

Quick Facts

Full Name
Reid Hoffman
August 5, 1976
  • Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship 
  • Golden Plate (American Academy of Achievement)
  • Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Place of Birth
Palo Alto, CA
Fields of Expertise
LinkedIn, Stanford University, Wolfson College
PayPal Mafia, co-founder of LinkedIn, Partner at Greylock, Board member of Microsoft

Hoffman’s career began at Apple in the mid-1990s. In 1997, he founded SocialNet.com, a website that matched people of similar interests and also had an online dating element. Next, he co-founded LinkedIn. But this was just the beginning of his remarkable business achievements!

Find out what Reid Hoffman did next in his career, personal life, and more.

The PayPal Mafia
Hoffman is part of the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” and was one of the first employees at the payment company that was later sold to eBay. Before PayPal, Hoffman created the (failed) dating site SocialNet, which some regard as the first online social network.

Who Is Reid Hoffman?

Reid Hoffman is a highly successful American businessman and entrepreneur. He has been involved with two of the most successful business ventures of the past twenty years: PayPal and LinkedIn. His experience in PayPal’s early days would prove to be foundational for his business success, and Reid would eventually be able to call himself a member of the famed PayPal Mafia.

In his later years, Reid would strike it rich as a venture capitalist. He would form Greylock Partners and further grow his fortune. Reid would turn his success into a successful speaking career. Reid still actively writes, speaks, and hosts a podcast.

Early Life

Reid was born to Deanna Ruth and William Hoffman and grew up in California. During that time, Hoffman pursued typically academic and somewhat “nerdy” pursuits. This included heavy investment in role-playing and tabletop games. In later interviews, Hoffman would credit the lessons he learned during his time playing board games — which included pattern and strategy — for much of his business success.

Hoffman’s education was nothing short of sterling. His high school education took place at the Putney School, a private school in Vermont. Hoffman would continue his education into college, earning a Bachelor of Science from Stanford in Symbolic Systems and Computer Science. He would then earn a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Wolfson College in Oxford. Hoffman was a Marshall Scholar during this time — Marshall Scholarships are only given out to the best of the best students in the country.


Various Technology Pursuits

Hoffman graduated from Wolfson in 1993 and went to work in the technology sector. He worked at Apple in the mid-1990s and spent time there working on the eWorld project, a proto-social network that the company was working on during this time period. This experience unquestionably influenced his later years at LinkedIn. 

Hoffman founded SocialNet.com in 1997, a website dedicated to matching people of similar interests. It also had an online dating component. While the website would not ultimately be successful, Reid would learn many lessons he termed critical to his eventual business success at both PayPal and LinkedIn.

During this time, Hoffman served on the board of many organizations and businesses — including PayPal.


Reid left SocialNet in 2000 to join PayPal, where he served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he served until co-founding LinkedIn in 2002. He eventually became the company’s Executive Vice President, a position he held until eBay purchased PayPal on October 3, 2002. 


In December 2002, Reed would cofound LinkedIn, the business professional social network. Taking the lessons, he learned from his time at eWorld and SocialNet.com. Reed would turn the company into one of the biggest successes in the social networking world, making himself a legendary entrepreneur in the process. 

LinkedIn, like many other start-ups, owes its success to venture capital investments, and many of these investments came from Reed’s former colleagues at PayPal, further cementing his presence as a member of the PayPal Mafia. 

Reed owns billions in LinkedIn stock and has served as the Chairman, President, and Executive Chairman of the company at various points. 

Investing and Crypto

Next, Hoffman became a successful venture capitalist. In 2009, he joined Greylock Partners, a venture capital fund that focused on investment in Silicon Valley firms. He has helped to turn Greylock Partners into a wildly successful fund and a must-have on a company’s investment portfolio. Reid has made major investments during his time at Greylock and helped to reap the profits of many companies, including Airbnb, Helion Energy, and more. He also runs Greylock’s $20 million discovery fund, which invests in brand-new firms. 

Like many other members of the PayPal Mafia, Hoffman has also invested heavily in crypto. In 2014, he invested in Xapo, a business that engaged in bitcoin vaults and wallets. He has repeatedly discussed his support of the currency in interviews. 

What Is Reid Hoffman Best Known For?

History of LinkedIn
Reid Hoffman’s most well-known personal success has been as the founder of LinkedIn


©Clara Murcia/Shutterstock.com

PayPal Mafia

Hoffman’s time at PayPal would lead to him becoming one of the most successful members of the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” the group of men who were involved in the founding and initial IPO of PayPal. These men, headed by Peter Thiel, would become wildly successful, forming new businesses and making billions in Silicon Valley. 


Hoffman’s most well-known personal success has been as the founder of LinkedIn, which is now one of the world’s most successful social networks and the most popular business social network in the world. It was Hoffman’s vision and techniques that turned LinkedIn into the success that it is today.

LinkedIn also made Hoffman a very rich man. In addition to his stock ownership, Hoffman reaped profits when Microsoft purchased LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion.

Speaking, Writing and Podcasting

Reed has published four books and constantly gives speeches about his entrepreneurial success. He has also turned to Podcasting. Hoffman’s Podcast, Masters of Scale, interviews CEOs and uses this platform to allow the CEOs to share the lessons they have learned from their time in the business sector.


Like many multi-billionaires, Hoffman has turned to philanthropic giving. Hoffman has invested heavily in various programs that also encompass his tech interests, including Kiva (peer-to-peer lending) and the Crisis Text Line for suicide prevention.

Reid’s philanthropic involvement has earned him numerous awards. His wife, Michelle, is also heavily involved in guiding his philanthropic investments. 

Reid Hoffman: Marriage, Children, Personal Life

Net Worth

As of December 2021, Hoffman’s net worth was estimated to be $2.4 billion dollars. Such a net worth places him among the fifty richest people in the United States.


Hoffman married his wife, Michelle Yee, in 2004. Yee is a speech pathologist who stopped seeing patients in order to become more active in philanthropic endeavors. 


Hoffman and Yee have no children and have decided against having any.

Reid Hoffman: Awards

As a prominent American businessman, Hoffman has won many awards. Recent ones include:

  • Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2017)
  • Golden Plate (American Academy of Achievement, 2014) was awarded for “significant accomplishments in his field.”
  • Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, 2014, President Barack Obama. Given as part of Hoffman’s efforts to create the next generation of global entrepreneurs. 

Reid Hoffman: Books

Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs

Masters of Scale was Sack’s first book. In this book, Reid discusses lessons learned from his time interviewing CEOs on his podcast, as well as the things he learned from his time in business.

Best for Scaling a Company
Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs
  • Written by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and investor at Greylock
  • Provides insight into the entrepreneurial mindset
  • Shares wisdom from leaders of iconic companies such as Apple, Nike, Netflix, Starbucks, Google, and more
  • Combines storytelling with incisive analysis
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 01:26 pm GMT

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies

In this book, Hoffman discusses his technique known as “blitzscaling,” which involves setting up techniques that allow for a business to be scaled up at remarkable speed. In doing so, a company can destroy its competition by simply outworking them and getting off of the ground faster than it ever could.

Best for Building Successful Companies
Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
  • Written by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and Chris Yeh, investor, and Entrepreneur
  • Provides insight into how to take a company for one to one billion quickly
  • Learn how to navigate shifts and weather challenges, how to design business models to ignite and sustain growth, and more
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03/10/2024 01:26 pm GMT

The Alliance: Managing Talent in a Networked World

The Alliance: Managing Talent in a Networked World encourages business leaders and entrepreneurs to rethink their relationship with employees and fundamentally alter the power dynamic between them. Reed argues that business leaders need to think of employees as “allies,” or people who can help create a new and better company.

Best for Employee Relations
The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age
  • Provides real guidance to establishing a realistic loyalty pact between employer and employees
  • Encourages employers to think of employees as allies
  • Learn how to develop trust between employer and employees
  • Co-authored by the founder of LinkedIn
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03/10/2024 01:26 pm GMT

The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career

InThe Start-up of You, Reed (and his co-author, Ben Casnocha) argues that you have to treat yourself as a start-up. This means constant investment, planning, networking, and risk-taking. 

Best for Personal Career Development
The Startup of You (Revised and Updated): Adapt, Take Risks, Grow Your Network, and Transform Your Career
  • Teaches readers how to accelerate their career in today's competitive business climate
  • Learn how to manage your career as if it were a startup business
  • Includes best practices of the most successful startups and how to apply them to your career
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03/10/2024 01:26 pm GMT

Reid Hoffman Quotes

“If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”

“The person passionate about what he or she is doing will outwork and outlast the guy motivated solely by making money.”

“Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Reid Hoffman?

Reid Hoffman is an American businessman, technological enthusiast, speaker, podcaster, and venture capitalist. He is also one of the richest men in the country.

What did Reid Hoffman invent?

Hoffman is arguably best known for his success as being one of the co-founders and inventors of LinkedIn, the business-facing social network. In fact, Hoffman founded one of the first prototype social networks, Socialnet.com, in 1997. He also worked on Apple’s eWorld, an early attempt at a social network.

Does Reid Hoffman have kids?

Reid Hoffman and his wife, Michelle Yee, have no children. The decision was intentional: Hoffman called it a “reasoned decision” in a 2015 interview.

How did Reid Hoffman start LinkedIn?

Hoffman took much of his team from SocialNet and PayPal and set about creating the technological infrastructure and financial backing to create the website. It can be safely said that Hoffman’s entire career prepared him to ultimately found LinkedIn.

What boards is Reid Hoffman on?

Hoffman is on the boards of many prominent businesses and charities. The most notable business board he sits on is Microsoft. He also sits on the boards of Neeva, Aurora, Coda, Convoy, Kiva, and more.

According to Crunchbase, as of December 2021, Hoffman sits on 19 different boards.

How old was Reid Hoffman when he invented LinkedIn?

Hoffman was 26 when he founded LinkedIn.

What is Reid Hoffman's net worth?

Hoffman’s net worth is $2.4 billion as of December 2021.

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